An Incredibe Meal at Carbone

It's so wonderful when a restaurant meets each and every expectation.  Especially when the stakes are so high; a Michelin starred, Saturday night 50th wedding anniversary kind of high.  But from the moment we walked in the door of Carbone, this mobstyle red sauce Italian joint decked out with brass chandeliers and tuxedo clad waiters hit the mark in every possible way.

To begin a few gratis bites from the kitchen including a big bowl of rustic Italian bread, tomato focaccia and buttery garlic toasts...

...followed by ribbons of salami, bowls of pickled cauliflower and hunks of parmigiana cheese taken straight from a hollowed out wheel.  This was a delightful way to begin the special occasion and helped ease the hunger pains as we debated just about everything on the Flintstone sized menus.

We finally decided on Baked Clams prepared in three different styles; classic oregano with breadcrumbs, "casino" topped with a slice of lardo and an absolutely stunning clam topped with a dollop of sweet delicious uni.

They were out of the regular scampi that day so we ordered the grilled prawns served with cherry tomato instead alongside the incredible  ZZ Cesar Salad prepared table side with white pickled anchovies and thick semolina croutons that were deceptively soft and warm in the center. 

I usually don't have pasta for my main even at an Italian restaurant.  I grew up in a family of spaghetti lovers and at least two times a week my mom would pour a big green box of Creamette Pasta into a pot and top it with whatever new jar of sauce my Dad thought looked interesting that week.  My brothers absolutely loved it and would ask for seconds while I quietly tried to hide as many noodles as possible among the lettuce in my salad bowl.  Needless to say pasta has never been high on my wish list but after this Spicy Rigatoni Vodka all of my pedestrian thoughts of pasta have been obliterated.

Perfectly al dente shells layered with a rich spicy sauce of onion puree, cream, tomatoes, pecorino cheese and Calabrian chilies.  I'll admit the dish doesn't look like much to the naked eye but this is one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.  Words can't describe the luxurious texture and subtle spicy flavors. Even with the hefty price tag just shy of $30 this is worth each and every penny.

I had a few bites of Mr. T's Veal Marsala, a delicious choice but hard to enjoy fully while devouring my magical bowl of rigatoni.

For dessert an array of cakes including a creamy lemon cheescake, a rich cherry chocolate torte and a gorgeous Nutella tiramisu topped with a buttery Madeline.  

In addition to the incredible desserts the waiter dropped off a plate of exquisite Rainbow Cookies and bottles of Sambuca and Anisette for after drinks; another wonderful perk to top off a fabulous dinner.

With all the wonderful food, decor and service it's worth to note that a meal at Carbone isn't cheap.  A few bottles of wine hovered around $100 but most rose quickly into northern territory with glasses ranging from $14 to $40.  Reservations are also incredibly hard to attain.  Emails are accepted exactly 30 days in advance for dinner or take your chances on a spot opening up for an early weekday lunch. This is worth the money and worth the wait; an absolute stunner in the West Village and a place I vow to return to before 2016 ends.

181 Thompson Street between West Houston & Bleeker
New York, NY 10012