At Carbone, New York comes to Vegas
A visit to Carbone is a transportive experience. From the very moment you enter through the replica Greenwich Village storefront, replete with a flickering neon light, you’re conveyed to the boroughs of the Big Apple. This isn’t just some red sauce joint—it’s an authentic New York Italian dining experience.
A night at Carbone is all about the details. Nutty, aged Parmesan carved at your table is offered at the beginning of your meal alongside spicy soppressata and pickled vegetables in a holy trinity of amuse-bouches, while later dishes ranging from the Caesar alla ZZ rife with crunchy housemade croutons to a robust veal Parmesan have Carbone’s famed captains in constant movement throughout the room with myriad tableside preparations. And after dinner, a bottle of limoncello is dropped at your table along with technicolor seven-layer cookies. Don’t be shy—your hosts would like you to drink as much as you’d like!
Carbone’s soundtrack matches the whimsical, frenetic pace of its captains, weaving ’50s hits such as Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman” and Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” with Italian classics such as “Tu Vuò Fa’ L’Americano” and an assortment of Ol’ Blue Eyes hits. If you’re not tapping away with the tunes while dining, you’re doing it wrong.
But lest we forget, the star of the Carbone show is its delectable Italian fare. Begin with the carpaccio Piemontese, a dish combining ingredients hailing from the namesake Piedmont region of northwest Italy—truffles, walnuts and mushrooms—atop thinly sliced beef tenderloin. Brushed with a white truffle emulsion invoking earthiness and umami, the tender meat is contrasted in texture with the addition of toasted walnuts.
Or instead, order the octopus pizzaiolo, where charred cephalopod intermingles with both cherry and Italian hot peppers, delivering more than a hint of heat.
Entrée-wise, the aforementioned veal Parmesan is a hearty hit—don’t forget to gnaw on the cheese-crusted, deep-fried rib that accompanies the dish—but if you’re looking for something a little bit lighter, look to the dover piccata. Prepared in a lemony brown butter sauce rife with capers, the fish—like so much of the Carbone menu—is finished tableside, deboned by a server with surgeon-like precision.
Pair your main with duck fat-fried potatoes Louie, a garlicky treat serving as a foil to both the more acidic red sauce dishes awash on the Carbone menu and vampires alike. With crisped skins giving way to fork-tender interiors, these spuds are a welcome addition to any meal.
While Carbone is clearly an Italian restaurant, chef Mario Carbone’s namesake restaurant boasts an ample selection from a whole other part of the world: rum. For a splurge, finish with a pour of Samaroli 1999 Trinidad rum aged in Scotch barrels from the vintage rum cart. But no need to wait until dessert for a libation; instead, order a house Old-Fashioned or two with your meal as El Dorado 12-year rum stands in for the cocktail’s usual whiskey, endowing the drink with wisps of vanilla.
For dessert, while the bananas flambé capture the room’s attention—when isn’t fire the center of attention?—when the tableside dessert cart arrives, order the lemon cheesecake. A slice of this oversized, almond cookie-crusted treat is just about the right amount of decadence to round out your meal.
Opening four years ago on the Aria restaurant promenade, Carbone is practically a Strip veteran. And as recent meals attest, it has done nothing but get better with age.
Aria, 5-10:30 p.m. daily. 877.230.2742