I sit here right now eating lunch as I update my web site. What am I having for lunch? Leftovers. Glorious leftovers! Leftovers are glorious when they come from a place like Carbone. I just finished up my leftover veal parm and a leftover meatball. If you had asked me if I’d ever eat again when I left the restaurant last night, I would have said no. But here I am… And if someone invited me there tonight (and I could get a reservation), I’d be back again. I could eat at Carbone every night…
I’ve met Mario Carbone both times I’ve gone. He is a humble guy considering the fact he has revolutionized classic (rustic) Italian fare like no one else has. It’s hard to describe why the food is so good…it just is. You know there is something different but you can’t quite figure it out. You don’t even want to figure it out. You just want to eat as much of it as you possibly can. You don’t want the meal to end until you are in physical pain as a result of how much you have eaten.
The rooms are great…small and almost cozy. The place feels like some combination of a supper club, an Italian social-athletic club, a speakeasy, your grandmother’s basement, and a five-star hotel. The staff is focused, professional, and dressed for the part. One of the servers (we call her “Red”) could not be more in tune with the needs and desires of her patrons. Having someone like Red orchestrate your experience is critical. The place is a scene, which usually detracts from my enjoyment…but not here. The bar is small, with a small list of delicious cocktails. The Gibson is made with Plymouth Gin, and has a sprig of rosemary to accompany the onion. I’ve always wanted to try a Stinger…and they have one on the menu.
So, let’s stop setting the stage, and get to the Meal of My Life. We had a great group of four…hosted by one of my closest friends (who has happened to host more Meals of My Life than anyone). A couple other buddies joined and we were celebrating. We put ourselves in Red’s capable hands and the rest is history.
- Tomato/garlic dusted focaccia
- Garlic bread, breadsticks, and country bread
(Note: while this sounds boring and simple, everything above was extraordinary)
- Clams roasted 3 ways (lardo, sea urchin, and oreganata)
- Scampi in the shell roasted with garlic and olive oil
- Sweetbreads Milanese
- Carpaccio Piemontese (with truffles and mushrooms) [Ultimate List]
- Octopus Pizzaiolo
- Prosciutto (again) with melon
- Spicy Rigatoni a la Vodka [Ultimate List]
- Calamarata Calamari
- Caponata Ravioli
- Veal Parmesan [Ultimate List]
- Pork chop with peppers [Ultimate List]
- Lobster fra Diavolo [Ultimate List]
- Steak Delmonico alla Chianti
- Cherry Pepper Ribs
- Corn with bacon and truffles [Ultimate List]
- Charred broccoli
- Can’t even remember…couldn’t even touch it by this point
- 1997 Sassicaia
- 1997 Ornelaia (x 2)
Simply put, this was one of the greatest meals I have EVER had. I will never forget it. Yes, we were over the top in every way imaginable, but you don’t have to go this crazy to love Carbone!