EDITOR’S NOTE: A rep for Aria has confirmed that, as of 9 a.m. May 13, “Carbone is coming … this October.”
Vegas Seven broke the news in July that Major Food Group’s A-list Manhattan eatery Carbone would take over the shuttered Sirio space in Aria. At that time it was just a distant rumor, a faint hope and a rumbling in my belly when I remembered with glee chef Mario Carbone’s spicy rigatoni. But it did seem totally possible that, in this town of reinvention, we would replace one New York City icon with a newer one.
Months prior to the gossip, on a snowy night in December 2013, I snagged a reservation at the original Carbone in Greenwich Village. This was no easy task. Reservations can only be made 30 days in advance, and they go faster than you can hit refresh on Opentable.com. The hostesses are relentless, there are no changes or additions permitted, and you have to put down a credit card to guarantee your table.
So, why all the hype? Well, first of all it’s New York, and all the good restaurants (and even the bad ones) come with it by nature of fierce competition. And Carbone, after all, was one of the hottest restaurant openings of 2013, helmed by Major Food Group’s wonder-boy restaurateur partners Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick.
It’s Italian-American through and through, and that heritage is expressed in its classic dishes, ambience and waitstaff, clad in Zac Posen tuxedos. Spending a night in Carbone is like walking into an elegant mid-century film: The food is sumptuous, the atmosphere thick with innuendo and it’s impossible to tell if everyone is playing a character or if they are really that way. It’s a scene from a Coppola film, right before someone’s blood ends up in the grout of the geometric black-and-white floor tile—oh, yeah, Carbone has that exact tile, too.
I revisited Carbone New York in late April, and yes, I again ordered the spicy rigatoni, which I do believe to be the best pasta dish in the universe. And upon my return, the Carbone Las Vegas rumor has resurfaced. Aria has yet to release an official statement, and I still have far more questions than answers.
This much I do know: Carbone is the ultimate in experiential dining. It creates burning anticipation, and it’s just as exciting after the meal to tell everyone you were there. Can we capture all those special qualities in Las Vegas within a more-than-10,000-square-foot space will be much larger than the intimate original? Where will they find waiters with thick New York accents capable of Carbone banter? Will I still dream of spicy rigatoni when it’s only a short car ride away? On a noodle and a prayer.