First-Take Restaurant Review: Carbone’s

Cannolis (photography by Desiree Espada)

Carbone’s, a week-old Italian restaurant, is already turning into a neighborhood destination for Park Cities residents eager to try Julian Barsotti’s interpretation of Italian-American food. Customers have been trickling into this part-grocery store, part-deli in a steady stream ever since Barsotti’s grand opening last Tuesday, keeping his staff on its toes. “It’s been very busy. I didn’t anticipate being this busy right off the bat,” says Barsotti.

When I visited Carbone’s on Wednesday, it was 1 PM and all the tables (save two, maybe) were taken. Barsotti was crouched down next to an elderly couple, easy to spot in his Adidas shoes and red plaid shorts, and probably on the receiving end of the couple’s congratulations for the elegant layout of his store.

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Olive oil bottles (left); Diners enjoying lunch (right)

Family photos of Julian’s maternal side adorn the same wall that sells American wine by the bottle and by the glass. To the right is a small section where you can buy dried penne pasta in sealed brown bags, Louisiana hot sauce, and olive salad in jars. Big glass windows cover the front of Carbone’s, letting natural light bathe the simple wooden tables and chairs in warm April sunshine. A small cactus plant spruced up the table where I munched on my Italian combo hero (mortadella, soppressata, and coppa meats with light vinaigrette, fresh onion, and chopped lettuce). It came with a side of crispy homemade potato chips (you can order a side of salad greens if you prefer), but I was a tad disappointed that the meatball shortage that day meant, well, no meatball hero for me.

At that point, the DMN hadn’t written a word about Julian’s meatballs yet, and Julian had only figured out his meatballs were popular because he was running out of them so quickly.

The deli counter where you can buy meats and cheese

“I didn’t anticipate the demand being that high,” Barsotti admits, “But we’re going to up our amount, for sure.” This means more labor for Julian since grinding the meat from a Berkshire pork shoulder in-house is a long, drawn-out process. But this isn’t the only change that Julian will be making to his menu. For one thing, the bread he was using for his heroes is going to go. Though the bread was dense and perfect for dipping into olive oil, it was too tough for the likes of a lunchtime sandwich. Something lighter will take its place, but Julian isn’t sure what it will be yet. The potato chips might make an exit as well, although I’m firmly opposed to this consideration. Those salty chips with the slightly burned edges beat the pants off bagged potato chips from any source. The fact that my leftover chips were still crunchy and relatively unaltered after three hours in my stuffy car means they’re champions. Chip champions.

Spaghetti and meatballs

“My motto is to evolve and improve,” says Barsotti. He aims to be as hospitable as possible to every customer who walks through the door. Before Carbone’s had even opened, two teenage boys came in asking for a glass of water. Julian walked to the back for the glasses and came back to find his phone and the kids both gone. Not only does that explain why Barsotti wasn’t answering my photographer’s texts and phone calls, this incident also explains what Carbone’s is all about: a neighborhood place where residents can flock and rest assured that Julian Barsotti will most certainly care for them. Even if that means losing his phone again.

Julian Barsotti packing orders (right)

17 comments on “First-Take Restaurant Review: Carbone’s

  1. ate there on saturday. fantastic soup and salad. but the best part? i took home a bag of dried pasta and frozen bolognese sauce. sunday brunch at my house was like eating at Nonna…in my robe. less than 10 min prep for one of the best bowls of pasta i’ve had in a long time. and i “made” it!

    Carbone’s rocks.

  2. “At that point, the DMN hadn’t written a word about Julian’s meatballs yet” – uh, ever hear about the online version? Kim’s piece was up on Tuesday night….word was out…

    nice try

  3. Nice try, what is your point? Carol was relating to the demand such a post would cause and he was selling out before anyone had written about them.

  4. Nice try, get off your high horse.

    this place sounds AMAZING! Cannot wait to try!

  5. A friend who went twice last week took me Sunday evening for her third trip, but we were turned away from the half-full restaurant by one of Julian’s staffers because they were “just trying out Sunday dinner.” Very disappointing and a little puzzling. Unfortunately we did not Julian, or else I don’t think this blunder would have happened.

  6. what a drag that his phone got stolen. i sure wish dallas could tolerate real bread – in the real world, there is no bread that’s too tough for a lunchtime sandwich. nice report!

  7. On the East coast, making a hero sandwich with the type of chewy baguettes that Julian want’s to remove, wouldn’t be any problem whatsoever. I would of easily preferred it to the “soft” baguette my (delicious) salumi hero was made with.

  8. Clinton, it isn’t unusual for an operator to limit service. It’s a soft opening and it was their first dinner service. The blunder would be if they let you in and you had a bad experience. Cut them some slack.

  9. Went in around 2:45 in the afternoon. Looked up at the menu above the counter. Sorry they said, we don’t make any sandwiches after 2:30. uh, really? 3 people standing around behind the counter chatting, but they can’t make me a sandwich???

    saw a couple of already made sandwiches in the case. “What are those?” I asked. “We make those into paninis, but not after 2:30″. uh, OK. goodbye!

    I’m sure I’ll go back someday, but to say they were very unaccomodating is an understatement.

  10. Pingback: First-Take Restaurant Review: Carbone’s | Rome Restaurants

  11. It all sounds pretty white bread average at best. Jimmy’s is not that far away and makes this place look like a 7-11.

  12. Just went for lunch. The sandwiches were outstanding! Additionally, the finish-out is really nice.
    We’re looking forward to having dinner / wine there.
    JB

  13. Agreed , beautiful space
    Upscale clientel
    However, my first Italian meat sandwich was too much bread that was not great for $11 bucks
    I must try others items on the menu before I see any value at these prices

  14. The $10 brown paper sacks of pasta are a bit pretentious, though I haven’t tried them and will likely not at that pricepoint. I saw no problem with the bread, though my gruyere pannini was seriously lacking in flavor. Hopefully just rookie issues – I wish them the best and hope that Dallas will support them.

  15. Ate there several times, good not as good
    as Nonna yet. Think we should give them some
    time to get squared away. It is pricey and
    well gonna keep my mouth shut and follow
    my own advice…

  16. nothing I have read here would make me want to try this place, sounds average and over priced.