BY NINA KING
APRIL 28, 2017
Old-school Italian: The phrase conjures up images of 1950s and ’60s New York restaurants, peopled by glamorous stars, with attentive servers hovering nearby. And, indeed, that’s the feel you get at Carbone at Aria, where the “captains” take charge of your table, giving you personal attention and making you feel like you’re a celebrity.
Carbone in Las Vegas, like the New York original, actually was inspired by those old-school restaurants and the Italian-American food served there. Here, Carbone’s swanky interior is divided into two main dining areas: one surrounded by curtained alcoves and with glamorous golden booths in the center space, and a separate room adjacent to the wooden bar. The musical selections here are mainly that Sinatra-style, with some other eras woven in—perfect for the vibe of the room.
As you slide into your seat, your friendly captain will introduce himself and the menu—and he’s knowledgeable, offering up suggestions for you on cocktails, entrées and every other aspect of the menu. (Wink, wink: There’s a magnificent rum selection). Whet your appetite with the seafood tower, a nice chopped salad or beets Siciliana, with capers adding that nice, pickled pop.
For your pasta dish, you can find everything from spaghetti to tortellini, all elevated from the stereotypical Italian dishes. The fettuccine con funghi’s light sauce lets that earthy flavor shine. And lobster ravioli features lumps of the main ingredient both in sauce and stuffing. The addition of squid ink results in a slightly salty bite that goes very well with the creamy, decadent sauce.
You can continue in the seafood vein for your main course, with such items as scallops, shrimp, Dover piccata or a whole branzino, or look to the meat selections, including classics like veal marsala, lamb chops or a bone-in New York strip steak. Huge, beautiful cherry pepper pork ribs have that fall-off-the-bone tenderness, over marinated kale with tomato and sweet onions. Accompany that with the indulgent potatoes Louie, made extra tasty with the addition of duck fat, and you’ll be in heaven. If you happen to be a vegetarian, no worries! Carbone has you covered. Let your captain know, and he may just suggest a cauliflower steak. This is quite the surprise, with a huge slab of tender, flavorful cauliflower—panko-covered, grilled and accented by capers—making an amazing stand-in for a meat dish.
A lot of people will tell you to save room for dessert, but here’s a little secret: There will be room for dessert, no matter what. Carbone’s servers will be happy to roll out a cart with pretty offerings such as carrot cake, zeppole and tiramisu, but for a truly impressive ending, order the bananas Foster, which is prepared tableside. It’s hard to get over the sight of flames shooting up from bananas caramelized with Bacardi 151, and the flavor matches the visual excitement. Pair that with a nice espresso, and your night will be complete.
Aria, 5-10:30 p.m. daily. 877.230.2742