Date Night - Carbone
We've been really good at choosing restaurants lately, because once again we had an absolutely amazing experience at Carbone!
I am not one to just go to the Strip and am just as happy at local hidden gems, but I am certainly glad we decided to eat at Carbone. This was our first date night after baby was born and my Mom was nice enough to babysit so we could enjoy a few hours out of the house. We were also celebrating my birthday and I was excited to be able to enjoy a glass or 2 of wine with dinner.
We both love Italian food and were excited to try out this restaurant. We made our reservations via OpenTable and notated that we were celebrating 3 special occasions - Rosslyn's birth, our recent nuptials, and my birthday. I guess we like to cram all of our celebrations into 1 dinner!
Carbone is located on the 2nd level promenade of the Aria Hotel and Casino, adjacent to the buffet. If you are staying on the Strip, I suggest walking or taking a cab, because Aria does now charge for parking and the restaurants do not offer validation, even if you are a local resident. This restaurant is an import from New York City, where they've had a popular location in Greenwich Village.
This is New York inspired Italian food and not what you would find in Italy. But don't let that scare you off, this food is AMAZING! When booking our reservation, I specifically requested a quiet table in the "red room," which is located in the back of the restaurant. This is a more romantic area and it didn't disappoint. We were seated in a small booth and felt tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the casino.
We decided to start with a bottle of wine and chose a reasonably priced red. I think the Sommelier was silently judging us, but isn't that what Sommelier's do?! The servers are called "Captains" and ours was fantastic. He suggested quite a few of his favorite dishes and explained what their signature items were.
The server's assistant brought out a small bowl with various pickled vegetables and also a selection of breads, along with oil and vinegar. This was a great start to the meal and a strong indicator of what was to come.
We decided to share everything, starting with the Caesar Alla ZZ salad, which is something they are known for and is prepared table side. Let me tell you that this salad did not disappoint! Both John and I agreed that this was by far the best Caesar salad we'd ever had. I am fairly positive they put crack in that dressing - it was so delicious!! It was fun to see it prepared right at our table as well.
Next, we went with a pasta course - the spicy rigatoni vodka. This was a tough sell for John because he is not typically a fan of vodka sauce. Well, Carbone hit it out of the park and earned a fan! The sauce was creamy with just a touch of spice and perfectly distributed through the rigatoni. It was a small portion, and perfect to share, but we still found ourselves wanting more. Luckily, we had another course on it's way.
Our final course was a meat dish. Another signature dish, we chose to try the veal parmesan and added a side of mushrooms. This veal cutlet was HUGE! By now, we were starting to feel pretty full and we knew it wasn't likely that we would finish this behemoth! As great as everything else was so far, this was definitely the highlight of the meal. I am not normally a huge fan of veal, but Carbone may have changed my mind. The cutlet was perfectly breaded and cooked and the sauce was delicious. We could only manage to eat about half and took the rest home.
As if it couldn't get much better, the restaurant decided to surprise us with complimentary dessert! One was a lemon cheesecake and the other was a carrot cake with ginger ice cream. Both were phenomenal and more than half of both also came home with us. I believe John enjoyed the rest of the lemon cheesecake for breakfast the next day.
I've had dreams about this meal since then. I'd heard a lot of things about Carbone - the food isn't that great, the prices are too high, etc. Neither of those things are true at all. Not only was the food fantastic, our meal was less than $200. Yes, that is a lot of money, especially for new parents, but it was well worth it and included a $90 bottle of wine. This isn't the kind of meal that you eat every week or maybe even every month, but it was the perfect night for our special occasions and a wonderful 1st night out without baby. It's not often that we'll get to experience something like this and I am really happy that we splurged. It was a very intimate and romantic dinner, we both shut off our phones and neither of us took any pictures of the meal (this is a small miracle)!
There are a lot of great dining options in Las Vegas, but Carbone gets "it." All of their attention to small details really set them apart from other restaurants - from just acknowledging our special night out, to the complimentary desserts, to a shot of limoncello at the end of the meal, to boxing up our food and holding it at the host stand so we didn't forget it - all of these things made a lasting impression. We've been telling everyone about this meal and I hope we can return very soon!