Carbone…on Thompson Street

When we first came to NYC we were indoctrinated into a world that neither of us had ever experienced.  We became very good friends with someone who was living with his aunt on the UES who was part of a very chic elite world.  We were introduced to many of the old school Italian places around town.  Those restaurants became part of our culinary history with NYC.  So stepping into Carbone the other night felt familiar and fun at the same time. 

I had spent many an afternoon having a coffee and biscotti at Roccos on Thompson Street over the years so I was looking forward to seeing what the team, Rich Torrisi, Jeff Zalaznick and Mario Carbone, would do with the place.  There are three seating rooms each with a different slant.  I happen to love the rich blue walls, the white table cloths and the old school leather chairs.  The waiters dressed in burgundy tuxedos are priceless.  A nice take on an old school vibe with a new school twist. 

The menu is simple yet extensive and big in terms of physical size which is a nice touch.  Plenty to choose from.  The seafood selections are vast.  Going back to try more of that.  I did not grab this shot but the waiter came out with what appeared to be a huge basket of crumbly bread but was a huge bowlful of hunks of Parmesan for everyone.  That came with a few slices of prosciutto and long pieces of buttery bread pieces laden with tomatoes and herbs.  Quite good. 

The basket of bread is a nice touch too with flavored olive oil on the side.  I am not a garlic girl and I could smell the garlic coming down the street.  The waiter steered us clear of anything too laden with garlic.  I certainly felt a little bit of the after affects the next day but nothing ridiculous so that is a very good thing (at least for me).  The garlic bread here looked delicious but I did not touch it.  On the other hand, the bread sticks were addictive.  Salty, crispy and washed with olive oil. 

We told the waiter to bring us a mixture of the appetizers and we would all order our own main.  The picture if blurry but I love the old school cart with the guy prepping our Caesar salad.  Crispy leaves with a delicious sauce and there is nothing like a good crouton in a salad.  Well done.

Langoustines grilled with a herb sauce.  Nice presentation. 

Grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with a poached egg and shaved Parm.  Classic italian dish. 

Spicy pieces of perfectly cooked buttery octopus.  Really liked this dish.  Combination of spice, tomato, herbs. 

Spicy Vodka sauce over rigatoni was fantastic.  Just the right amount of spice and the cheese melted over the top when sprinkled over the top.  The sauce just took over the pasta but did not overwhelm.  So good.

You can get meatballs on the side and I highly recommend.  They are perfect.  A mixture of meats creating a light yet dense meatball at the same time.  Served with a spicy tomato sauce that is in need of a bread to mop up every drop.

Main courses.  I have to admit that I only tasted mine but I did take pics.  Simple bass served over a nice green sauce.

Cherry pepper ribs.  Beautiful presentation and they were falling off the bone which is a very good sign.

Veal marsala.  I heard the Veal Parm was delicious but I opted for the marsala.  All the veal dishes are cooked on the bone.  Juicy veal chop doused with mushrooms and wine.  Underneath was a roasted oyster mushroom.  I was very full at this point so I did not finish the whole thing.  Splitting some mains might be the way to go. A different twist on this dish which absolutely works.

Chinese chicken.  Who would have thought.  Looks delicious right?

A side order of thinly sliced roasted potatoes.  Love the way it is served in the big Le Cruset pan.

Crispy broccoli rabe.  Nice side vs the standard sauteed rabe with garlic.  This is the Italian take on tempura.

Check out the dessert cart.  Only four options here but there are gelatos too.  I kind of like that.  Not too over the top but each one is a new take on presentation.  Tiramasu, lemon cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake and carrot cake. 

Dessert crisps
A few fried crisps doused with confectioners sugar.  Nice side treat.

Chocolate cake.  Layers of mousse and rich moist chocolate cake with a dollop of whipped cream.  Perfect.

What was more perfect was the banana split.  Classic.  So good. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry gelato with a split banana.  Each ice cream had a sauce over it to highlight each flavor.  Crunchy nuts too.

You can read all the fodder on line about Carbone.  It is not inexpensive so keep that in mind.  The clientelle is all over the place which is kind of great.  Lots of old school Italian NYers.  They have done a great job.  The vibe is great.  The food is vaguely familiar which I like but they have taken it into the next stage keeping with the old school feel.  Hats off to the group.  Starting with a sandwich shop they have morphed into a solid group of restauanteurs who are making their mark in NYC.  Bravo.