Carbone is one of the more divisive restaurants in NYC, with many fans as well as many who proclaim it to be a showy/touristy rip-off. The pricey Italian-American restaurant is almost more famous for its prices than its food, but I did find the food excellent on a recent visit.
So was it worth the hefty price tag? I would say that a lot depends on how well you order and how hungry you are, but there are certainly values on the menu.
PARMESAN MARINATED IN CHIANTI
These delicious morsels are provided gratis, and certainly help the value proposition. The bread basket contains garlic bread, regular focaccia, and "grandma" bread (focaccia with a light spread of tomato sauce).
We were indulging that night, and this delicious barolo fit the theme nicely.
BAKED CLAMS ($21)
CAESAR ALLA ZZ ($21)
The huge caesar salad was done in a traditional table-side manner with three anchovy filets on the side. I didn't have any but was told it was very good. The clams and caprese were probably the best values on the entire menu, as they were both delicious and served in sizeable portions. Unlike baked clams I've had at other places, the clams underneath the topping were extremely meaty and juicy, and comparable to something that would be served at a fancy raw bar for $2-3 each as is. The caprese salad just exuded freshness, featuring delicious heirloom tomatoes, aromatic basil, and warm, fresh mozzarella. I could easily see a portion half the size selling for $12 at a "small plates" restaurant, with mozzarella nowhere near as wonderful as the one served here.
SPAGHETTI POMODORO ($25)
SPICY RIGATONI VODKA ($27)
The pasta section was probably the most disappointing section of the menu, based on these two dishes and what I read from other reviews. These weren't bad, but at these prices just pale in comparison to the many great pasta dishes found all over the city.
RIBEYE DIANA ($54)
DOUBLE LAMB CHOPS ($82 M/P)
DOVER SOLE PICCATA ($95 M/P)
The ribeye Diana was awesome, featuring a perfectly cooked medium rare (closer to rare) ribeye steak in a rich, sticky, sweet and herby reduction. The dover sole, expertly filleted at the table, was served with some pickled peppers that had just the right amount of tart and heat to enhance the flavor of the fish without overpowering it. The problem here, is the price, considering one can get a much bigger steak at many fine steakhouses in NYC for the same price, and that the entire dinner prix-fixe at La Grenouille, including the dover sole supplement, costs $126.
CORN TARTUFATO ($15)
CREAMED ESCAROLE ($15)
The corn was the single most revelatory dish of the night, as shaved truffle with corn was a pairing that was hard to stop eating by the spoonful. The escarole, on the other hand, epitomized the "we don't need to order this here at these prices" dish.
The carrot cake, served with ginger ice cream, was delicious, moist, and extremely well made. However, at this price, I wouldn't go out of my way to order it. The weird shape of the cut may have thrown me off, but I also felt that it was a smaller portion than I was expecting.