3/25/2013 11:54:00 AM

First Bite at Carbone: Inside the Torrisi Boys' High-End Ode to Red-Sauce

Chicken Scarpariello...worth every penny
The Torrisi boys (Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi) have already explored their love for red-sauce nostalgia with their lunch counter joint, Parm, but their latest project, Carbone, takes the kitsch to a whole new level. The early buzz about this joint (located in the former Rocco's space) has focused mostly on the prices, and we're not going to lie to you - this place ain't cheap. Entrees range from $29-$140. Yes that's $140 for mixed grilled cacciatore, with many or most in the $40-50 range. The restaurant is supposedly family-style, but the portions for most dishes aren't really big enough to be shared with large group. The pastas, for example, feed one or two people max, and most of the entrees would feed two to three (depending how many dishes you order).
The space itself consists of three rooms - one Siberia area by the front door and bar, another main dining room and one in the back. The dark green walls are lined with various artwork, the ceilings adorned with vintage-looking chandeliers and the floors are made from Godfather-inspired black-and-white tile. The waiters (average age 65) greet you with "Buona Sera," are dressed in maroon tuxedos and mix up Caesar salad table-side. Dessert trays are whisked about 1960s-style and music straight off the Moonstruck soundtrack blasts in every room ("That's Amore," etc.). Our sommelier was exceptionally friendly, in fact all of the staff was very friendly. Thankfully, there's no pretension going on within these walls, because at these prices, there shouldn't be. The menus are comically large and the cocktail list includes around ten old-school drinks (Mai Tai, Margarita etc.), all of which are $17.

We tried the table-side Caesar, the black tie lobster pasta, the spicy rigatoni with vodka sauce and the chicken scarpariello. With two bottles of wine and the above menu items, our bill was a whopper at $243 pre tip. Oddly, we don't feel any remorse - the food here is ridiculously good, it's just kind of too expensive for most normal humans. (Aziz Ansari was there last night - he can afford it.) If you can score a reservation (right now it's a bit tough) it's perfect for indulging your deep-seated love of Italian-American fare - just be prepared to cough up the scharole.

The Details: 181 Thompson St.; 212-254-3000



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