Of all the restaurants that opened last year, few got as much buzz as Carbone. A restaurant from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, parts of the team that brought us Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm (which are two places that New York holds dear but I, sadly, haven’t had the opportunity to try yet).
We actually live across the street from the OTHER Carbone (I blogged about it years ago) which caused a good deal of confusion and made headlines for having a few rather famous people waiting in the completely wrong restaurant in the completely wrong side of town (for the record, that Carbone is “Carbone Ristorante Italiano” in the Garment District but THIS Carbone is in Greenwich Village on Thomson between Bleecker and West Houston. Their website URLs are even nearly identical as CarboneNewYork.com and CarboneNYC.com)
We found ourselves in the dining room after making a reservation exactly 1 month (to the day) ahead of time. The restaurant has a combination of old world Italian and trendy industrial, thanks to the steel doors, in combination with the elegant yet simple decorations. It was elegant but a little edgy, and I liked it. The only thing that was a bit tough for me (and now for you) is that the lighting wasn’t great for photos, so apologies ahead of time that these aren’t my best work.
I was especially amused by the rooster paraphernalia.
Even in the bathroom.
(Another note on the bathroom… there was an interesting piece of art there that I actually returned to take a picture of. This is a piece of white paper in a lit white box with a candle on top… W… T… F…)
As soon as we ordered, we were served some starters from the kitchen, including a nearly transparent, thinly sliced place of prosciutto that tasted as flavorful as it was delicate in texture. It almost melted in porky fatty goodness right on your tongue.
We were also provided some cauliflower (which Mike said was great, but I couldn’t have due to my allergy to peppers) and a bite each of one of the best pieces of crystally parm I’ve ever tasted. It was nutty and rich and was lovely with the prosciutto.
And some incredible bread, that was fresh and flavorful, with a bread “stick” that had all the flavors of pizza but in a soft, doughy bread.
For being a huge fan of wine, and traveling to three different areas in Italy, I still feel utterly clueless when it comes to picking out Italian wines. French wines, I know exactly what I like, but for some reason, I cannot get Italian wines to stick in my head. So we relied on their sommelier to pick one out for us, and he did a damn good job with this gem of a bottle.
We began with the Fettuccini con Funghi, and even though we ordered one dish to split, they nicely divided it in half and provided us with our own plates.
This was really aromatic, with the deep, rich mushrooms complimented effortlessly with fresh herbs and spices. And that pasta was perfectly cooked and textured to support all the components of the dish.
We also had to try the infamous veal parmesan which was rumored to be served on a pizza tray (it wasn’t) and very large (it was, though I guess my expectations were a wee bit grander).
Luckily, the flavors didn’t disappoint. It was a full, very vealy flavor with the right amount of breading and cheese to be slightly crispy but very moist and cheesy.
The sauce was classic and a perfect foil to the richness.
Mike really appreciated that they included the bone and went to down scraping off each delectable morsel.
As much as we loved the veal, however, at $54 (yes… fifty four dollars) I feel like it just didn’t live up to expectations and price. I’m glad we split both the pasta and the entree so the expense for both of us wasn’t too crazy, but at $54, that should be the best damn veal parm I’ve ever had. And it wasn’t. It was damn good. But it just wasn’t $54 good. But I’m glad we had the opportunity to try it.
We were then given lovely biscotti as we decided on dessert.
And shown a lovely dessert tray to choose from.
We went with the chocolate cake (may have been chocolate cherry, not sure). It was epically moist, rich, and flavorful. I’m not a cake fan but this was very nice. Then again, it didn’t make me into a cake fan. I wished it had some crunch to it, like some chocolate pieces.
As we went out, we saw them preparing a basil and persimmon dish table side. The smell of the fresh basil and precision of preparing this dish in front of us was pretty amazing. I have no idea what dish it was, but I wanted to sit down again to try it.
Overall, our meal was really fantastic. Everything was flavorful, prepared well, and a little different from the typical. But now that I’ve tried the $54 veal parm, I don’t think I need to have it again, and I can’t even say I would recommend it as a “must.” But the food we had was really great and I would go again in a heart beat to try some of their less famous dishes. Especially some more pasta dishes because ours was really phenomenal.
Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10 (docked a half point or so because that veal parm is just too expensive for what it was)