A "Red Sauce Joint". I'd first heard this expression a few years back while talking to friend about Italian-American cuisine. For a restaurant to fall in this category, they need to serve familiar “Italian” dishes such as Lasagna, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Veal Parmesan. Italian comfort food at it’s best. Manhattan’s Carbone takes the idea of "Red Sauce" to the next level. Think big flavors and even bigger portions. Keeping up with Italian tradition, everything is served family-style. Perfect for sharing. The vibe is hip and the space almost always packed. The food is decadent and the wine list long.
I took Ryan to Carbone with a few friends for his birthday. We had a fantastic time. The service was standard but good. The food however was very good as was our sommelier who was extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
Let’s get to the food. The must order dishes were the Baked Clams, Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, Veal Parmesan and the Mushrooms (side dish). The mushrooms were the best I’ve had. We also ordered the Prosciutto with Melon (good but you can get in anywhere or easily make at home), the Branzino (also very good but I’ve heard the Scallops Francese are to die for...) and a few desserts (Nutella Tiramisu anyone?). We’re actually going again in a few weeks and I can not wait to try a few new dishes. Carbone has one of those menus where EVERYTHING looks yummy. Additional pasta dishes and the Scallops will be a must.
Make reservations way, way in advance. I had a friend tell me he called and they were booked for months. Yikes. It’s been open for a few years now and it’s still hot. Carbone is under the fabulous Major Food umbrella which also houses ZZ’s Clam Bar (one of my favorites) and Dirty French, their newest opening which I can NOT wait to try.
Our outstanding Baked Clams. This was my favorite appetizer. They came in three variety's,
one topped with fresh Uni. They were delicious.
This was hands down my favorite course. Our Rigatoni with Spicy Vodka Sauce and Carbone's house-made Meatballs. The pasta was, of course, perfectly cooked. The sauce creamy and flavorful. Everything you'd want from a vodka sauce. The Meatballs were perfection. Together, a match made in food heaven.
Our lovely Branzino. Presented whole tableside before being taken to the kitchen and prepared. Very light and flaky.
My portion of their signature Veal Parmesan. Presented as a full dish, then cut into individual servings for each guest. It was excellent.
Nutella Tiramisu. Is a description really needed here? :-)