Who is Mario Carbone? Meet every celebrity’s favorite chef

“I mention a lot of different restaurants, and for whatever reason, they just stayed with Carbone, it’s become so synonymous with the account,” one of @deuxmoi’s founders tells me during a phone call. “Is anyone else eating elsewhere? I get so excited when someone sends me a picture of them Hamburger or something, because I feel like I’m just posting Carbone.”

Carbone’s vanished Hollywood take on cooking linguine with clams arrived just as Instagram was taking off. Three months after the restaurant opened its doors in March 2013, the photo-sharing giant allowed users to add video to their feeds for the first time. And Carbone is perhaps best thought of as video streaming on an app, capturing this Sinatra-washed rigatoni fantasy, one that unfolds like in a New York back yard at an LA movie studio populating Greenwich Village.

“Carbone is like a movie set, where every waiter is like an actor,” says Daniel Boulud, who once employed Carbone and Torrisi at his own Café Boulud. “Mario and Rich, they’re New Yorkers, and they have this nostalgia for classic New York, and it gives it this zest for life.”

The makers know this and enjoy it immensely. When we talk about the restaurant, Carbone and Torrisi often bring up a concept they’ve called “The Move.” The Moves are mini renditions with a wink performed by the servers that coalesce into a story, a series of overaccommodation that will charm and overwhelm and crescendo until you’re pomodoro-piled.

“Generally speaking, it means unique service-style moments, whether it’s the verbiage we use, how the captain guides you, the story they use to rattle specials,” says Torrisi. “And people might not notice the Move, and that’s the point – the point is you don’t think about it because we’ve got you, we’ve captured your imagination, we pour wine quickly and we give you a cocktail and you’ve got a great time and that’s why you’re coming back. That’s a move.”

I ate at Carbone on the first Sunday of May, and the main takeaway, aside from the relentlessly euphoric uplifting fare, was something like: This is an unashamedly self-conscious way to eat out. Unlike the guys, it’s not so much a sequence of movements, but a sequence of discrete actions that unfold like a story about the movement. The first move is a meta: she leads us past the large dining room with tiles reminiscent of those in the restaurant in which Michael Corleone accepted his fate in the godfather, through the kitchen à la Scorsese’s direction on the way to the best table at the Copacabana in Goodfellas. Another move is a capitan greeting the table in a tuxedo, handshakes all around, launching an antipasti attack: free salami from Bleecker Street; a Brobdingnagian basket of various carbohydrates topped with a square grandmother bread the size of a stop sign; fatty, pepper-spotted cauliflower giardiniera; and fist-sized chunks of Parmesan cheese. From there comes the Caesar thrown at the table, but also a band-sized dish of extra rich beef carpaccio speckled with ant chives. From there comes the spicy rigatoni vodka, as well as off-the-menu gnocchi slathered with fresh driveway butter. Out comes the lobster fra diavolo but also that famous veal Parmesan chicken, sliced ​​at the table. Coffee comes out, but also a bottle of Sambuca, which is placed at the table so that the guests can skewer as they please.

Also a move: That time the waiter handed comically large menus and then rattled the night’s oysters, a list as long as the names of who fathered who in the Book of Genesis, ending with “New Brunswick—and that’s Canada, not Jersey.” But not offensive to Jersey.” Wink wink One last move: Putting a Tesla-sized basket of chestnuts and other unidentifiable shells on the table – “This is a nutcracker, and ladies, you only use them on this one nuts.”

But then the Move couldn’t explain that in the corner of the back room sat Aviv “Vivi” Nevo, the uber-rich Zelig-esque investor with a cocky mystique — for years his top Google searches said he couldn’t be googled. Or that a table companion returned from the bathroom to announce that he had just met Olivia Rodrigo, the 19-year-old pop star from the stratosphere, who sat at the table with the likes of actor Sebastian Stan and Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli.

However, here are two variables that may bring us closer to solving Carbone’s gravity. Within hours of dinner, the Daily mail and @deuxmoi had both reported that Rodrigo had been at Carbone the night before the Met Gala, complete with photos of Thompson-Street catwalk of her in a sheer chain mail dress. There was no mention of Nevo holding up at a table in the back room.

Unlike your usual celebrity-studded club restaurants – your Taos and your Buddakans and your Catches – Carbone’s cuisine earned three stars from Pete Wells on The New York Times. This kind of critical review is something of an important marker in the evolution of fine dining in New York. Krishnendu Ray, professor of nutritional studies at New York University and author of The ethnic restaurateur, explained that Italian cuisine is becoming one of the dominant forms of haute cuisine, gaining ground over French and Japanese cuisine. If you go to a globalized luxury hotel in Bangkok or Buenos Aires, the restaurant there is more likely to serve Italian food. But this is often Italian Italian food, meaning the rich eat in Milan or Genoa, not Italian American food. Spaghetti and meatballs were invented here by Italians who saw their jobs disappear as the industrial revolution spread across the boot, forcing them to flock to America until the National Origins Act of 1924 restricted immigration. Ray said that, to his knowledge, no one had seriously attempted to elevate this cuisine to the pinnacle of gastronomy and hospitality until restaurants like Carbone did.

“Carbone is very important because it is the food of the poor immigrants and it fights against the Northern Italian disdain,” Ray said.

Mario Carbone has none of this disdain, and despite the high-flying Miami lifestyle punctuated by LeBron’s bro-hugs, he’s still the Queens kid who worked in local eateries during high school. The red sauce joint on Thompson may be just one of more than 30 restaurants on three continents under the Major Food Group umbrella, but Carbone is the flagship restaurant and the one that bears his name.

“The idea of ​​doing what Carbone is, that’s more Mario’s specific dream as a young chef,” says Torrisi, whose name graced their first restaurant, Torrisi Italian Specialties.

On a crisp Texas morning on the last day of March, I sit with Carbone at the new Carbone in Dallas, in the bones of a restaurant that opens unsettlingly that evening. It doesn’t seem ready, but it is. Carbone was born to Italian Americans in a residential area of ​​Queens, and his grandparents, who came from Italy as adults, were always around and always cooking.

“My grandfather would wake up, he would get dressed, and as part of getting dressed, he would put on an apron,” Carbone tells me. “And then, for the rest of the day, he’s in an apron, watching TV, gardening, doing something outside, basically cooking,” continues Carbone. “And my grandmother was his consummate devoted sous chef…. So when they looked at me, I was always in the kitchen.”

Homemade Italian food was part of the culture, but he was also fascinated by the business model of a restaurant, the magic that happens in an invisible back room where you choose what you want and it miraculously appears. He worked at seafood restaurants in Queens to earn pocket money for dates, and after high school decided to bet on cooking as a way to get ahead. He enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, the go-to incubator for kitchen stars.

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