One month ago, yesterday, I was passed out in Austin, Texas, the morning after a bachelorette
party when I was rudely woken up by an alert on my phone reminding me to call and make a
dinner reservation at a restaurant my Dad had read about in the New York Times.
I am going to interject and give myself a little pat on the back for the smart thinking on that little
iCal reminder. If we had missed the chance to get a reservation and I had never experienced the
meal I had last night, I would never have been able to forgive myself. Well, except for the obvious
fact that I would never have known what I was missing, but that is besides the point I'm trying to make.
After a long hard weekend completing my very first triathlon, nothing sounded more fitting than a
nice hearty Italian dinner. Thanks to my Father for the New York Times Review, my friends,
my coworker and even a client who recently had the chance to dine there, I had the perfect meal
planned at Carbone.
Carbone, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi's new Italian eatery in Greenwich Village opened
about three months ago on Thompson Street. Nestled in a great location, formerly Rocco's,
on a neighborhood tree lined street and is within walking distance of central SoHo and most
of the prime NYC downtown hot spots.
We headed out the door on the earlier side thinking we might saunter our way uptown or perhaps
even hop on the subway. Sauntering did not last long and we were quickly picked up by a cab and
standing outside of Carbone ten minutes early. We figured there would be no problem as being
early is not a common habit for most people. Unfortunately, did we not only wait standing up for those
ten minutes, we also waited another thirty minutes to be seated. Our wait turned out to be quite
eventful with a gracious chat with the chef's parents and their friends in town from Long Island and
a VW sighting (if anyone doesn't know who that is, too bad).
After some cocktails, with delicious olives said my Dad, we were finally seated at a four top banquette
in the entrance room. As a designer, my eyes were darting back and forth, up and down, trying to
catch every little detail I could. There were so many to look at including the architecture and design,
the wonderful old-school Italian waiters dressed in their fancy two toned maroon suites, polished shoes
and bow ties, and you can't forget the interesting people watching of your fellow diners.
Before we could even open our menus, a nice dapper fellow stopped by our table with the largest
wheel of Parmesan cheese and simply laid Parmesan chunks on our side plates. Mine was gone
before the second round, a plate of savory and smoky aged ham is laid down before me. Before I
could even steal a slice, a second plate consisting of baked bread with a light spread of sweet
tomato sauce is placed before my Mother. I now knew what it felt like to be in heaven.
Our server, Jason, Justin, something with a J, came over and sat down with us exclaiming it was easier
for him if it was alright with us, to which a manager came over and made another joke about his cocktail
order. He was smart, witty and knew exactly what he was talking about. We liked him immediately.
After a brief explanation of how everything worked, an overview of the menu and answers to our
questions, he told me he would "bring me a Caesar salad if it was what I really wanted but, I should
definitely go for the Caprese salad as they won't be serving it after September," we were pretty
much eating out of his palm.
After our wine order, a Red Zin, there was another little joke by Jason that if we receive our
Caprese before our wine it is because had to run down the street to get it. Their wine cellar was
down at the end of the block. My Mother and I were laughing as we always use the joke, what
is taking so long did they have to kill the cow? or run down the street to get it?
Why yes, yes actually they do this time....
We obviously went with his recommendation of the Caprese Salad, would have been stupid not to, and
decided to forgo the Caesar. Our Caprese was served simultaneously with a delicious bread basket
filled to the rim with garlic toast, Italian bread and bread sticks. The server cut the house made
mozzarella in fours and delicately laid them on top of the tri colored work of tomatoes followed
by the drizzling of the mozzarella oils. The olive oil tasted like it was mixed with a creamy
butter sauce, which it wasn't, but that is the only way I can explain the heavenly goodness
which was filling my mouth. It took every bone in my body not to pick up the plate and start
lapping it up.
My Mother and I already knew our orders before we sat down at the table. This is one perk of waiting to
be seated for forty minutes. All eyes were on the Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, and for good reason. This dish
had some red hot flare with a side of zing!
My entree of the evening was the second pasta dish I laid eyes on during one of my few walks
throughout the restaurant while waiting. It was love at first sight. The only disappointing feature
about theTortellini al Ragu was its portion size. It was exactly half the size of the other pasta dish.
Other than that, this little dish had class; Pure traditional old world Italian class.
My Father ordered his all time favorite Italian meal, the famous Veal Parmesan. He is typically
disappointed in the flatness of the veal, the flavor or lack their of, or just the overall whole dish.
There was a lot to live up to in this order. When his entree arrived we were all in shock as this
baby weighed in at the same size as your typical brick oven pizza. If I had not already stuffed
myself from all three bread baskets, the three of us might possibly have been able to finish this
dish. Just possibly. My Dad, even today, still regrets not bringing a doggy bag home.
To top dinner off, a round of limoncellos and a slice of traditional New York Cheesecake and we were
still discussing our amazing meal including a quote by my Father who mentioned this might have been
one of the best meals of his life. Definitely one of our new favorite restaurants.
The restaurant never quieted down. There was constant chatter, laughter and the music was almost as
loud as the concert we went to later. People were standing at every angle, in every corner and niche
trying to stay out of the way of the busy house hold while waiting for the highly anticipated table. We
very much enjoyed our wonderfully fun experience at Carbone and all hope to visit again soon.
To end our evening, Harper Blynn at Rockwood Music Hall with pretty much my favorite people in
all of NYC. It was a great end to a great evening.