As I said, we took some of Patrick's friends here a few months ago and everything was wonderful. But the meal I want to tell you about took place last Friday night. Patrick and I (once again) both had rough weeks at work and decided we owed ourselves a good dinner date. We chose La Carbonara because we were craving some pasta and we loved it so much the last time we had gone. We were shown to our table by the same man who had served us last time, presumably a manager, an incredibly nice Italian guy with a ponytail and beard. We soon found out he'd be our waiter again, and his service was flawless. He checked on us enough times to be helpful but not so much that it was overwhelming.
Now don't get me wrong, I always have been and always will be Max's biggest fan, but since we moved to Chelsea, the trek to either Tribeca or the East Village seems far when we're craving pasta, so we've found a new home at La Carbonara. Let me break it down for you. The cozy atmosphere gives diners low lighting, a noise level that is never too loud even when the restaurant is packed (and it is always packed), and small wooden tables far enough apart for privacy but close enough together to feel like you're sharing a meal with 100 of your closest friends. The staff is incredibly attentive and welcoming and the decor makes you feel like you're having a comfortable dinner in your Italian grandmother's dining room. This restaurant makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I haven't even gotten to the food yet.(photo credit: La Carbonara)
We decided to split the Oven-Baked Eggplant with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella to start. I love that this dish is baked and not fried, and was really in the mood for this savory treat. It arrived to our table in a small bowl and the aroma nearly knocked me out of my chair. I couldn't wait to dig in!The eggplant was both crispy and soft in all the right places, the cheese was melted to perfection and the sauce rivaled the best I'd had. On the whole, we made a phenomenal appetizer selection.
For some reason, I was really craving seafood. While Patrick went with the Rigatoni with Veal Ragu, I scanned the menu and was really hoping there would be a stand-out seafood special. I was not disappointed. Not only did they have a pasta dish with mussels, shrimp AND lobster, the pasta in said dish was black squid ink pasta, one of my favorites! They had it paired with a spicy marinara but I opted for a garlic white wine sauce. I couldn't wait for our food to arrive! While we waited, Patrick sipped on a crisp white wine and I indulged in a glass of Prosecco.
Our food was finally ready, and I knew it was coming because I could see the lobster on my plate from across the room! Patrick's pasta looked great:but I was very happy with the plate that was placed in front of me:And of course when the busboy brought over the chunk of Parmesean with the grater we kept him at our table for a good long time grating cheese over our dishes. What is a plate of pasta without a mound of cheese on top?
I am proud to say I finished every last bite of the incredible dish. The seafood was so fresh, the pasta was cooked exactly to my liking (al dente!) and I always have a good time cracking open lobster (even though, to this day, my dad cracks it open for me when I get lobster with my family.) I was in heaven! I tried Patrick's pasta, and it was also very good, but braised meat is not my favorite. He definitely enjoyed it though.
La Carbonara has quickly become one of our favorite places in the city. When a great atmosphere is paired with both wonderful service and delicious food, you really can't go wrong. We'll be back for sure, and we'll send new customers to this great spot too!
Where is your favorite place to get pasta in the city? Do you like fancy Italian at places like Del Posto? Or do you prefer good down-home pasta at places like Max and La Carbonara? Let me know, I'd love to hear what you think.
-The Fabulous Foodie