figured i'd jot down some quick thoughts since i didn't see anyone else post about this spot just yet.
in case you missed it, carbone is the latest restaurant from the guys that run torrisi italian specialties and parm. it's in the old rocco space on thompson street, across from lupa and tomoe sushi.
decor: dark, swanky. think of a combination of minetta tavern and striphouse. lots of dark walls, dark banquettes. only the white tiles are bright.
service: there is a ton of staff here. 3 people to greet you in the front, captains, waiters, busboys, "wine girls," etc. even though they just opened, service seemed pretty good. however, in their desire to be "authentic," they seem to have hired waiters whose first language is italian, not english. this made it difficult to understand his explanation of a lot of the menu, and it was a bit painful trying to get our order correct with him (for example: we wanted to share 3 pastas, he suggested two 1/2 orders. we didn't realize until we spoke with our captain that he was actually suggesting two 1 1/2 orders, something we didn't know you could order until we were paying the bill). other than that, service was spot on.
menu: their menu isn't online yet, but the items really aren't surprising if you have ever been to a place like don peppe's or roberta's. they have a section of raw items, hot and cold antipasti (including an outrageously priced at $45/pp hot antipasto selection which they didn't have the night we were there), soups and salads (we had an awesome caesar salad made tableside), pastas, fish, meat, and contorni. prices ranged from i think $10-$20 on the appetizers (except for the mixed plates of antipasti), $15-20 on salads, $20 to approx $30 for the pastas, and entrees ranged from about $20 to $100 for a mixed grill for 2.
food: food was generally very good to excellent. they don't seem to want to reinvent the wheel, but instead seem to be aiming to make the best versions of classic "red-sauce" italian dishes. they start by giving you pieces of excellent parmigiana cheese, some cured ham, and warm focaccia bread (given before menus and drink orders taken).
for appetizers, we went with the the octopus pizzaioii, which was incredible - super-soft octopus with excellent peppers and sauce, a nice plate of carpaccio piemontesse - very good, and the caesar salad, which was excellent. they were out of a bunch of things, but i suspect that was because it was opening weekend.
we then split 4 pastas: spicy vodka rigatoni, spinach fettuccine with mushrooms, linguini with clams, and the tortellini al ragu. first off: portion size is a bit skimpy if these are going to be your main courses, and for the price, they should be bigger. there was maybe 8 tortellini, and maybe 2 dozen rigatoni. granted both were delicious (the tortellini is filled with an incredible meat sauce; the spicy vodka rigatoni was the best penne a la vodka you will eat), but for $25 or so for a plate of pasta, they need to give you a bit more; or, conversely, lower the price. the fettuccine was the only dud, a bit overcooked and just eh.
up next: mains. we split the chicken cacciatore and the hub-cap sized veal parmigiana. the chicken cacciatore is a half-roasted chicken with mushrooms and a great earthy sauce. again, this is the best cacciatore you will eat. the veal parm was massive, as it should be at $50(!). it's more of a cross between a veal chop and a veal cutlet, and it's served with a deep-fried bone. yes. highly suggest this dish. it had spicy breadcrumbs, awesome mozzarella, and a really nice tomato sauce. incredible.
before dessert, they brought out some fried zeppole with powdered sugar, although, they tasted more like the wontons you get at parm if you order the chinese dinner special on sunday night.
since we were feeling extra-gluttonous, we sampled 3 of the desserts: carrot cake, tiramisu, and lemon ricotta cheesecake. the carrot cake is a must order. it is truly a work of art (and it is visually stunning). the outside is crispy, the inside is moist. it's awesome. the cheesecake was also very good; the tiramisu was ok and definitely not as good as the one at motorino, which i think is incredible.
in short: the food, scene, vibe are all great. the food is like a cross between parm and torrisi. it's a big pricey for a regular night out, but for a splurge, or a big group, it'd be great. try and go here.
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