I’ve become a BIG fan of Mario Batali since trying Osteria Mozza.  So after hearing we would be going to Carnevino during Triple F’s bachelorette party in Vegas, I was pretty excited.  Eating out in Las Vegas always brings much anticipation and excitement.  I can’t think of any other city, besides NYC, that has such a concentration of fine dining establishments from so many well renowned chefs.  One day, I hope to work my way up to a night at Joel Robuchon, but a Mario Batali restaurant is more than enough for now.

Carnevino is an Italian steakhouse created from the culinary minds of Mario Batali and his partner Joe Bastianich.  Granted Batali does not really cook at all his restaurants, I was still expecting great things.  Nobody has ever seemed to convey any sort of disappointment after dining at one of his outposts.  It seems like he, unlike many other chefs that slap their name on various restaurants across the country (I’m looking at you, Michael Mina), has been able to maintain the quality and integrity of food while bringing fame and glory to his name and furthering the brand.

Amuse Bouche

These were some cheesy bread balls, served piping hot.  They had a slight crunch to the exterior which revealed a slightly chewy and cheesy texture within.  I’m not sure what cheese was used, but it was a little bit too salty. 

Grilled Octopus pickled vegetables, limoncello

I love octopus, and this was a very different take on a very familiar protein in an Italian restaurant.  The prominent flavor in the dish was the acid from the limoncello and pickled vegetables.  It was very interesting, but became overwhelming.  It was good we all shared this dish.  The octopus was tender yet chewy, with just a slight char.  It was served on a bed of thinly sliced octopus, which I thought brought a different texture.  The pickled vegetables were really tart and somewhat distracting.  I never knew Italians ate pickled vegetables.

We decided to go family style between 5 girls.  TUMmy said the bone in rib eye was a must have, and that it would be plenty big for 5 people even though its intended for 2.  We ordered some sides and pastas to compliment the meal.

Italian Broccoli house smoked pork

I apologize for the blurry picture.  I was running out of batteries and was hurrying to get pictures of all the food.  These were pretty standard.  The stand out element was certainly the smoked pork which really tasted like bacon in the end.  I didn’t get much of the pork in my bites, but the flavors permeated throughout the veggies.

Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms spring onions

Another standard side dish.  The mushrooms were a various assortment, sauteed with onions, well seasoned.

Garganelle Pasta chanterelle mushrooms and corn

The pastas were perfectly made.  I wish I could have had a whole plate of the pasta dishes to myself.  I love the texture of garganelle pasta which is made by rolling square pasta into a tubular shape.  The subtle ridged texture of the pasta created a nice party in my mouth.   Paired with the mushrooms and fresh sweet corn made for a winning dish.

Orecchiette sweet sausage and broccoli rabe

I’m starting to believe that you can never fail to win me over if you add corn to anything or if you have the pairing of sausage and tomatoes.   I don’t know what is so special about orecchiette since its very much like a shell.  I think it must be the word orecchiette.  It just sounds so much more special and fancy.  I am easily romanced by packaging.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was all here.  The sweet sausage was well balanced by the broccoli rabe and the delicious tomato sauce.

Dry Aged Bone In Rib Eye for 2

From the menu:

Our all natural BBL beef is hand selected and aged in our meat chamber by our man Adam Perry Lang.  BBL beef is often beyond regular USDA prime standards for marbling and flavor and is hormone and antibiotic free.  We rub all of our beef with sea salt, black pepper, fresh rosemary, to get a delicious and slightly charred crust.

This has to be one of the most delicious cuts of meat I’ve had.  I’ve been to a few steak houses, Flemings, Ruth Chris, Mortons, Maestros, and Cut.  Carnevino may rival Maestro’s as my favorite steakhouse.   The rib eye had a hearty meaty quality, enhanced by the generous marbling of fat, and topped off with the beautifully charred crust of seasoning.   I thought the bone-in cut brought a wonderful flavor to the meat as well.  The bone was seriously over a foot long.  The meat on the bone did not go to waste.  It had to be the best part, but consumed in small quantities because of the fat content.

drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with extra sea salt

Don’t be fooled.  You make think there was more bone than meat, but the cut provided 2 full plates of medium rare meat.  It was perhaps a little more rare than I would like, but it was more than enough.

Strawberry Panna Cotta whole wheat biscuit

After clearing up every single morsel of food left on the plates, and cleaning the rib eye bones bare, we moved on to dessert.  I am so predictable and ordered the panna cotta to share.  It was creamy, smooth, and topped with a healthy helping of macerated strawberries.  On the side were some lightly sweetened, buttery biscuits, that were unique in their use of whole wheat flour.  So with every bite, there was that grainy wheaty texture which was different and delicious.   It was a great way to finish the meal.

I think everyone else was pretty satisfied with the quantity of food.  I forgot to take my Nexium, but it turns out I wasn’t painfully stuffed as I had anticipated.  In fact, I felt just right.  Perhaps next time I would order just 1 more pasta dish, since I love Batali’s fresh pasta and can never get enough.  I would love to come back to Carnevino, for the food and for the incredibly young, handsome waiters.  Batali, you know how to win a girl over!


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