Caviar Affair Interviews Chef Mario Carbone:
Carbone, the Greenwich Village sensation that made waves in New York City’s dining scene, made its debut in Las Vegas, as it officially opened its doors at ARIA Resort & Casino.
Partners Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick recently introduced their awards-winning concept of classic Italian-American cuisine with a sense of fun to a city known for its playful liveliness.
For those who have eaten at Carbone in New York, the Las Vegas Carbone reflects the same New Yorksense of theater, and of fun. Chef Mario Carbone enlisted San Francisco-based star designer Ken Fulk to create an atmosphere that transports dining guests into an inviting, yet vintage Las Vegas swagger.
Carbone’s Spicy Vodka Rigatoni, Veal Parmesan, Lobster Fra Diavola and Meatballs are on the menu now, but the menu plans to evolve and introduce dishes entirely exclusive to the Las Vegas location.
Carbone also brings its iconic waiters – known as “Captains” to Las Vegas to guide guests through the Carbone dining experience with an undeniable New York edge. Each waiter was personally selected by the Carbone family to ensure the service caliber that is synonymous with the restaurant’s standards.
As regards libations, Chef Carbone’s collecting vintage rum enlivens the after-dinner experience. Guests can try Black Tot British Royal Naval Rum, the last rum ration ever issued aboard ships of the British Royal Navy; or the Appleton 50-Year Rum, created when Jamaica its best barrels to age for five decades, celebrating 50 years of independence.
Finally, Carbone’s wine selection is comprised of 550 labels, and explores the best-of-the-best from Italy, America, and France. This includes legendary vintages that extend back to 1929.
We were fortunate to be able to interview Chef Carbone, before the opening of Carbone Las Vegas
Caviar Affair: When did you first start to cook? Was it out of interest which came to be passion, or necessity? I had read your grandfather was a great cook – what did he teach you? What kind of dishes did he prepare?
Chef Carbone: I began to cook when I was very young, and always with my grandfather. He always had an apron on. My grandparents lived in the northeast part of Italy, so there were some Slavic influences also when I was growing up, not just Italian.
Caviar Affair: You have received many accolades within the past few years – what was the most meaningful to you and why?
Chef Carbone: We have received many awards, but the one I found most surprising and meaningful was our first Michelin Star at Carbone almost when it first opened. It was a four-table restaurant in those days. We were so gratified. We knew we were on the right track.
Caviar Affair: What is one of the favorite dishesyou never tire of cooking or creating for family and friends?
Chef Carbone: Surprisingly, I never get tired of cooking pasta in all forms! So, I go to the market, get the freshest things possible, make a bowl of pasta and salad.
Caviar Affair: When you were growing up, were you a picky eater? Many chefs we have interviewed said they were.
Chef Carbone: No, I wasn’t a picky eater. I liked some things more than others, but I ate everything. I had no problems with different textures and colors either. I was pretty easy to please.
Caviar Affair: You have made your mark on the NY Restaurant scene, and now in Las Vegas. You and your partners have said Carbone will be reflective of the Sands Hotel, Rat pack era of the 50’s and 60’s Las Vegas.
Chef Carbone: Well, that era of the 50’s and 60’s in Las Vegas seemed to us to define a sense of ease, of fun, of a kind of lightness of heart and soul. Our restaurant will reflect this sense of fun, in the sense it will be FUN fine dining, not serious fine dining.
The food will be serious, but the environment will be fun.
Caviar Affair: Where do you see Carbone in a few years? Will you expand more internationally? Could you eventually see one in Tuscany?
Chef Carbone: We will be right here in Las Vegas, but I hope someday to expand our brand to Havana! I think that would be such a great place to have Carbone. Just a dream right now…. but then, at one time, Las Vegas was also. But now here we are. Dreams do come true.