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You know how it goes when they can’t get a reservation up in CarboneDrake in Spin Bout U
They gon’ tell you it’s a chill night, tell you how they’d rather stay home, yeah
I have something in common with Drake. I, too, can get a reservation at Carbone Las Vegas. After trying to get a reservation on my last couple of trips, I finally secured the coveted resey to one of the more popular spots in Vegas. It’s not our first time at Carbone Vegas, but it’s been a few years & it was time to try again.
Our reservation was on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at 8:30 PM after arriving from the Midwest in Vegas around 6 PM, so it had been a long day & we were hungry! Our party included just two of us, my wife & myself. We each got one drink, split an appetizer, pasta, & main dish while finishing our dinner with a cappuccino & dessert. After-tax, our bill came out to $251 + $50 in gratuity & we had a $50 dining credit with our hotel stay.
If you’re not aware, Carbone is an Italian-American restaurant started in New York by Mario Carbone & opened a second location in the Aria Resort in Casino in Las Vegas. It is a favorite of celebrities & food critics alike, winning multiple awards & earning shout-outs by many of the most famous people in the world. It is one of the toughest reservations to get in Vegas (and even more challenging in NYC), so we were excited!
To set the stage, Carbone is on the promenade level of Aria Resort in Casino in Las Vegas near Bardot. It is a beautifully designed restaurant with red velvet booths & a very noticeable buzz. The wait staff is incredibly attentive & multiple dishes (and the dessert cart) are presented tableside to give a very interactive feel to the dining experience. When you’re dining at Carbone, you feel like you’re at THE place to be, and you’re probably right.
Throughout our meal, it was obvious that this was a well-run machine. The wait staff was attentive & our water never emptied. We were greeted quickly & overall, the service was impeccable throughout the evening. This was all expected, but having such a positive overall experience was good. There was only two of us at our party, including my wife & myself.
The Drinks: The White Lady ($22) & Manhattan ($22)
Since this was our first night, we decided to go with cocktails rather than wine for our Carbone experience. My wife ordered the White Lady ($22) & I had the Manhattan ($22). After much debate, my wife decided to be adventurous & try the White Lady (gin, orange liqueur, vanilla and egg white w/lemon zest). It was a bold choice for her because of the egg white, but her gamble paid off! It was fabulous. It was a creamy & slightly sweet (but not too sweet) gin martini. A great choice to start the meal.
I had a more traditional Manhattan (Woodinville Rye, Cherry, Cinnamon). It had a distinct cinnamon flavor was a classic and sophisticated drink that embodied the elegance and timeless charm of this renowned restaurant. I always enjoy rye bourbon & this was very smooth & flavorful. Cinnamon was the dominant flavor which I really enjoyed. Overall, this simple, solid drink started my meal on a great note.
Would we order it again? Yes! Both drinks were keepers & I wouldn’t hesitate to order either again. The White Lady stood out & would be a heavy contender to order next time we go. The Manhattan was solid & would be in the rotation, but I would likely try another drink next time.
The Appetizers & Complementary Dishes: Bread, Pepperoni, Cauliflower, & Tuna Calabrese ($29)
First, the “freebies”. The bread. Oh, the bread. While it’s hard to say the complementary bread is the star of the show, it’s at least winning for best-supporting cast. The bread basket includes three types of bread, each better than the last. Starting from good to great, the sesame seed would have been solid anywhere else, but honestly should be saved to soak up the unused sauce during the pasta course. The soft garlic bread was outstanding. It would have been the best bread I’ve had at an Italian restaurant if not for… the tomato focaccia. This elicited an audible “omg” from us both on the first bite because it was so good. I don’t think I’m overstating: it was the best appetizer bread I’ve had.
The bread basket also came with some additional goodies including spicy pepperoni & Italian cauliflower. I was a bit scarred by cauliflower in my younger days, but it was actually quite delightful. And the spicy pepperoni was perfect for adding to the bread or eating alone. My wife is not a huge fan of charcuterie-esque meats, but she even enjoyed the pepperoni. Overall, the complementary appetizers & bread started the meal on the right foot.
We started with the Tuna Calabrese ($29) appetizer special after much debate. We love tuna, but it is not typically what you expect at an Italian restaurant, so we were intrigued. Big eye tuna on an eggplant puré with lemon zest, garlic, & mint. Overall it was flavorful & tasty. The eggplant puré was a nice complement to the bold flavours of the sauce & the tuna pieces were pretty large for this type of dish. We enjoyed the appetizer, but it wasn’t something we’d have to get the next time we go. But if it’s available, it’s a solid choice if you want something different.
Would we order it again? The bread is the star of the show & included, so it’s a no-brainer. The Tuna Calabrese was good, but I would likely skip the appetizer completely next time & go for a full pasta course if I felt I needed the food. We had too much food & the app course is what I would cut! That said, if I was going with a larger party, I would consider the tuna calabrese for the table.
The Pasta Course: World-Famous Spicy Rigatoni Vodka ($34)
Next was our favorite course & probably the most popular & famous dish at Carbone, the Spicy Rigatoni Vodka ($34). We split this course & each got a small but appropriately sized portion for a middle course. That said, we might skip the app and each get our own Spicy Rigatoni next time because it is fantastic.
The Spicy Rigatoni Vodka is the signature pasta dish offered by Carbone. The dish starts with rigatoni pasta, a large tube-shaped pasta with ridges that help hold the sauce. The pasta is perfectly cooked, achieving a tender yet slightly al dente texture.
The sauce is where the dish truly shines. The Spicy Rigatoni Vodka sauce is a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce with a delightful kick of heat. It is made with tomatoes, cream, vodka, spices, and seasonings. The vodka helps enhance the sauce’s flavors and create a unique taste profile. The sauce is simmered until it reaches a thick and luscious consistency.
What sets this dish apart is the addition of spicy elements. Red pepper flakes or hot peppers are typically incorporated into the sauce, giving it a fiery and intense flavor. The level of spiciness can vary based on personal preference or the restaurant’s interpretation of the dish. I like spicy, but I didn’t think this dish was “spicy” at all. Even if you don’t typically like spicy things, I think this will still be a solid choice.
Our Spicy Rigatoni Vodka was garnished with grated Parmesan cheese, which adds a salty and nutty note to the dish. The combination of the creamy, spicy sauce, perfectly cooked rigatoni, and the touch of Parmesan create a harmonious blend of flavors that made this one of our favorite pasta dishes we’ve ever had.
Would we order it again? Yes! Yes! Yes! This is THE course that I would not miss at Carbone. It is their signature dish for a reason! I’d consider going just for this dish.
The Main Course: Dover Picatta (mp aka $95)
For our main course, we went with the Dover Piccata (mp aka $95), which is finished tableside. This dish starts with fresh Dover sole fillets known for their tender and flaky texture. The fish is typically lightly coated in flour and pan-fried in a combination of butter and olive oil until it becomes golden and crispy on the outside while remaining moist and delicate.
The star of the dish is the piccata sauce. Piccata sauce is a classic Italian sauce made with lemon juice, white wine, capers, and butter. The sauce is vibrant and tangy, with the lemon providing a refreshing acidity that cuts through the richness of the fish. The white wine adds depth and complexity, while the capers contribute a briny and slightly piquant flavor that balances the overall taste.
The Dover sole is cooked to perfection and brought to the table to be expertly deboned by our waitress. It is served with the piccata sauce generously drizzled over the top. The sauce beautifully complements the delicate flavor of the fish, creating a harmonious balance of savory, tangy, and buttery notes.
We split this dish & it was more than enough, especially with the multiple courses we’d already experienced. This was a full fish, so we could have split this between 4 people if we had a larger party & felt like we got plenty.
Would we order it again? Yes, but I’d try other mains first because of the price.
The Dessert Course: Lemon Cheesecake ($17)
We had Lemon Cheesecake ($17) and two cappuccinos ($6×2) for our dessert course. The Lemon Cheesecake from Carbone is a delightful and refreshing dessert that combines the creamy richness of cheesecake with the vibrant and tangy flavors of lemon. Carbone’s version of the lemon cheesecake is known for its impeccable balance of flavors and its smooth, velvety texture.
Starting with the crust, Carbone typically uses a buttery graham cracker or cookie crust as the base for the cheesecake. This provides a crisp and slightly sweet foundation that complements the creamy filling. I love a good graham cracker crust & this was amazing!
The filling of the lemon cheesecake is where the magic happens. Carbone creates a luscious and velvety cheesecake using a blend of cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. Adding lemon zest and fresh lemon juice gives the cheesecake its distinctive citrusy flavor and a bright, tangy kick. The lemon flavor infuses every bite, providing a refreshing and zesty contrast to the richness of the cheesecake.
To enhance the presentation, Carbone garnishes the lemon cheesecake with a sprinkle of lemon zest, adding a pop of citrus aroma. The Lemon Cheesecake is a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors. It offers a decadent and indulgent experience for cheesecake lovers, with the vibrant lemon twist providing a delightful twist to the classic dessert. Again, it was one of the best desserts we’ve had, even though I am not as lemon-crazed as my wife tends to be!
Would we order it again? Yes! All the desserts looked amazing, but this would be on the shortlist to order anytime we wanted a dessert. It was a compromise at the time since my wife LOVES lemon-flavored desserts, but it even hooked me as a fan!
Final Thoughts: Carbone Las Vegas Review
Carbone lived up to its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Vegas and beyond. Dining at Carbone is an experience that encapsulates the best of Italian-American cuisine with a touch of nostalgic elegance. You are transported to a bygone era of glamour and sophistication when you enter the restaurant. The attention to detail in every aspect, from the impeccable service to the thoughtfully curated menu, sets Carbone apart as a destination for culinary excellence.
The dishes at Carbone are a true testament to the mastery of classic flavors. Each bite is a harmonious blend of high-quality ingredients, expertly prepared to create a symphony of taste. Whether it’s their signature Spicy Rigatoni Vodka or their delicate Dover Piccata, every dish is executed with precision and care, showcasing the restaurant’s commitment to culinary perfection.
Carbone’s dedication to creating a memorable dining experience is evident in every aspect, from the elegant ambiance to the impeccable presentation of each dish. Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging in a night of fine dining, Carbone delivers an experience that lingers in your memory long after the last bite. With its timeless charm, impeccable flavors, and attention to detail, Carbone continues to reign as a culinary gem deserving of its well-earned reputation.
Would we go back to Carbone? Of course! This will be one of the places we always start with to try to get a reservation. A visit to Carbone is not just a meal; it’s a journey that indulges all the senses and leaves you with lasting memories of culinary brilliance. We can’t recommend it enough.
The stars of our meal? The bread course, Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, and Lemon Cheesecake are the stars of the show. These all stand on their own as dishes worthy of making that Carbone reservation.
In summary, Carbone delivers a remarkable dining experience combining classic Italian-American flavors and a timeless atmosphere. The culinary expertise, attention to detail, and exceptional service work harmoniously to create an unforgettable evening. Carbone’s reputation as a culinary gem is well-deserved, and it continues to captivate diners with its outstanding dishes, refined ambiance, and unwavering commitment to excellence. A visit to Carbone is not just a meal; it’s a journey that indulges all the senses and leaves you with lasting memories of culinary brilliance.