Ca Ca, Cocky Carbone…

veal parm
Veal Parm

I have been wanting to dine at Carbone for quite a while. I held off because dinner just seemed a tad pricey.

Lunch is now an option at Carbone. A friend was visiting from Australia so I decided that this would be the perfect time to sample the food.

Carbone is an Italian-American restaurant created by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick under the Major Food Group umbrella which includes Parm, Parm Yankee Stadium, Torrisi and ZZ’s Clam Bar.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed my meals at Parm and Torrisi. I was really looking forward to lunch.


The entrance is old world NYC Greenwich Village. Carbone resides in the former 90 year-old dining institution, Rocco Ristorante. Carbone’s interior is attractive. I adore the metal sliding door which divides the two front dining rooms.

Carbone Interior
Carbone Interior

It was a gorgeous summer day. The warmth ended once we stepped inside.

The host must have had an Italian salami stuck up his butt because he could not have possibly looked more constipated or been more unwelcoming…perhaps he just suffers from a run of the mill Napoleon complex. The only person more miserable was the blonde manager who paraded around the room, looking bored and disconnected.

Neither offered salutations or inquired about the meal and at Carbone’s price points, we are all due some love.

cheese carbone

Before the mediocrity and heavy pressure to order, order, order kicked in, we were presented with bland cheese floating in a puddle of olive oil and cold, toasted bread…my bread theory (huge indicator of what a restaurant is about) is not half baked.

Crab Asparagus Salad
Crab & Asparagus Salad

We started our Italian food fest with my dining companion’s choice of crab & asparagus salad  ($26). I found it bland, quite ordinary and the asparagus were far from their pre-game hype.

We initially ordered the homemade spaghetti with uni…I was stoked, but shortly after ordering, the field marshall whispered to the dining maitre d’ that the uni was no longer.

Big secret… instead of whispering to the staff in front of us like it was a middle school playground, address the diners. When I offhandedly said I will have to order it next time she curtly replied, “If we have it. No guarantees. It is hard to get.”

I said that she will have to go to Santa Barbara to acquire some. She seem shocked that I knew where the best uni was culled and that I possessed any brains at all.

Fettuccine Con Funghi
Fettuccine Con Funghi

The substitute pasta selected was a fettuccine con funghi ($28) which lacked flavor and was overwrought with parsley which I detest and has no place in any food except decoration on a seder plate during Passover.

The house speciality, veal parm ($55), was presented beautifully and was definitely the highlight of the meal. It was moist and flavorful with just the right amount of cheese. I loved the presentation with the veal bone.

The maitre d’ reminded me of a luxury car salesman as he kept trying to up sell and was quite persistent about increasing the amount of courses ordered. We stuck to our guns, but finally succumbed when he encouraged us to add a bit of green to the main course.


We ordered the highly touted broccoli ($15) which arrived soaked in garlic and a hideous sauce. It was inedible and we sent it back. When the check arrived, he made a huge deal of not charging for the broccoli.

Carbone was a personality void and generally tasteless with the exception of the veal parm. I guess you have to be a regular like Jerry Seinfeld or Kelly Ripa to get respect or at the very least, good service. I think Lupa, which is across the street, has tastier pasta and veggies at way more reasonable prices.

Carbone is kaput for me. And a word of advice for Napoleon and the field marshall. Think gracious, welcoming and pursue the art of basic conversation. At these prices and the fact that the lunch crowd was minimal, you should serve up some warm Italian hospitality and pretend to tolerate your clientele.

Carbone 181 Thompson between Bleecker and Houston, NYC. Reservations recommended on OpenTable. Dinner: Monday – Sunday: 5:30-11:30pm. Lunch: Monday-Friday: 12pm – 2pm.

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