Calling All Captains: Carbone Creates Classic Experience
At Carbone, the newest addition to the second-floor restaurant promenade at Aria, the meal is about the experience. This is evident from the very moment you traverse the entrance—a replica of the Greenwich Village storefront down to the flickering neon light sign overhead—and approach the hostess stand where a Julian Schnabel painting of Christopher Walken leers knowingly at you. Because Walken knows you’re about to have the time of your life.
You’re whisked away through a bustling front bar area; a stark contrast to the serene dining room ahead. With towering ceilings, expansive booths lining the perimeter and swaths of deep reds, the room manages to be both timeless and contemporary seamlessly. And here is where your evening of pampering awaits, so sit back and enjoy the show.
The famed Captains of Carbone—clad in their Zac Posen-designed uniforms—tend to your every need as a wheel of Parmesan arrives at your table and is carved onto your plate. Alongside the Parmesan arrives tart pickled cauliflower and noticeably spicy salami, small tastes to whet your appetite. So begin your meal with an order of octopus pizzaiolo where charred tentacles intermingle with peppers and potatoes; the dish delivers a hint of heat while being undeniably succulent. Elsewhere from the sea, a creative trio of preparations await in the baked clams: classic Casino, Oreganata replete with—what else?—oregano and a sublime little taste called Fantasia topped with uni. And zuppa di pesce combines the sea's finest in a visually stunning dish.
But Carbone is first and foremost an Italian restaurant, so dine on the classics. The amply sized meatballs—a blend of beef and pork—swimming in a vibrant red sauce offer a hearty side, practically a meal in itself. Spicy rigatoni vodka offers plenty of heat in a vodka sauce as good as your Italian grandmother’s. And the grand veal Parmesan is one of the many tableside preparations—the bone-in beast sliced apart in view for easy serving. But don’t overlook the potatoes Louie, crispy while also inexplicably being fork-tender. Prepared with duck fat and an ample helping of garlic, the dish is elevated above any simple potato side dish.
The veal Parmesan is only one of numerous tableside preparations for which Carbone Captains are famous for, turning the restaurant into more of a supper club. The Caesar alla ZZ is prepared in sight of your seat, while you can finish your meal with a theatrical bananas flambé presentation with plenty of fire. If the charred bananas with amaretto aren’t your preference, then maybe a towering slice of carrot cake layered with ginger, both in the frosting and accompanying ice cream, will do.
Carbone creates a comfortable atmosphere practically inviting you to linger. In the background, a soundtrack of Motown hits intertwined with Italian classics streams. “The Shoop Shoop Song” segues into Ol’ Blue Eyes crooning “Luck Be a Lady” before Sam Cooke belts out “Cupid”; you’ll find yourself singing along tune after tune and becoming part of the show. It’s just the way they’d want it.
Aria, 5-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 877.230.2742