Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 38: Carbone's

Carbones-bandi.jpg
Lori Brand
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

Would you beliebe that just two years ago the best Italian American restaurant in Dallas was likely Maggiano's Little Italy? It's true. Red sauce joints in this city may have once put together respectable menus, but their offerings have since withered. Thankfully, Julian Barsotti has not only revived this classic American peasant food, he's taken the genre to places it's never been.

Just try and find handmade pasta at your local pizza and pasta joint. It doesn't exist. Handmade pasta is usually reserved for dishes that involve lobster meat and truffles -- that's how Barsotti got his start at his first restaurant, Nonna.

At Carbone's, the same level of craftsmanship is applied to the same spaghetti and meatballs you grew up with. Your childhood memories are in danger of ruin.

So are your lunch plans for next several weeks after you've discovered Carbone's. The sandwiches are simple, but they're all assembled with care and great ingredients. The mortadella in your Italian combo is made in-house, and the chicken parm sandwich is significantly more tender and juicy than other versions in town.

Pick up some Sunday gravy after your meal, take it home, and wait for your kitchen to smell like an episode of The Soprano's. Just like that Barsotti is spreading the prophecy all over town. It's a red-sauce revolution.

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No. 50: Joyce and Gigi's
No. 49: East Hampton Sandwich Co.
No. 48: 20 Feet Seafood Joint
No. 47: Taj Chaat House
No. 46: Mot Hai Ba
No. 45: La Nueva Fresh and Hot
No. 44: Pera Turkish Kitchen
No. 43: Tom's Burgers and Grill
No. 42: Mughlai
No. 41: Russian Banya
No. 40: Off-Site Kitchen
No. 39: Bachman Lake Taqueria


Location Info

Carbone's Fine Food and Wine

4208 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant


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17 comments
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

At the risk of being a pain in the neck, I have to ask if that pasta picture is from Carbone's.  I never heard of anyone making handmade rigatoni.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@Myrna.Minkoff-KatzNo bother. All you need is a pasta extruder -- and maybe a ton of patience. Barsotti uses a heavy duty machine with bronze dies.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@JulianBarsotti @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @primi_timpano 

handmade, machine made, enough already.

all I know is the pasta and the sauces at carbone's are flat out delicious.

and the price points are not bad at all, to me paying $16 or so for a plate with this quality of a product is a reasonable price.

and the desserts...don't miss the desserts!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Twinwillow Fifty years in the druchus, you've lost your edge, bubbeleh.  There was so much dancing around the fact that the rigatoni pictured was overcooked that we could have done a hora. ☺☺☺

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz ~ Remember, this is not Brooklyn. Yes, we don't have great neighborhood mom 'n pop Italian "red sauce" restaurants on every block. And yes, Carbone's is definitely not cheap. Don't forget, they're paying Highland Park rent.

But, it is what it is. And, as an ex Brooklynite Jew as well, living in Dallas now for 50 years this month, I'm happy and very thankful for what we do have here. 

I've seen Dallas come a very, very long way in the past 50 years. And things just keep getting better all the time.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Twinwillow @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @primi_timpano Anyway,  I adore Italian food.  I miss having a dozen places within a few blocks where the food is squisito and cheap.  Dallas is a wasteland in this regard.  If that picture is truly Carbone's rigatoni it is overcooked and unacceptable for the price they charge.  Maybe the chef should spend more time in that kitchen.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @primi_timpano Handmade, shmandmade. I don't give a flying crap how it's made or what anyone has to say about the authenticity of the pasta.  Carbone's rigatoni is fantastic!

JulianBarsotti
JulianBarsotti

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz@primi_timpano 

The above pictured rigatoni is bronze die extruded using fresh milled semolina flour from a small producer in North Dakota. Unlike boxed semolina pasta it is not dried, which gives it a softer texture and a more pronounced semolina flavor.  I like both, they are just different.  We sell an incredible brand of bronze die extruded dry pasta called Afeltra at Carbone's  Also, although it is a good foundation for understanding the differences between southern and northern italian pastas- the rule of not serving egg pastas with oil based sauces and not serving semolina pastas with butter can be broken with delicious results. Example: Scialatielli is eaten on the Amalfi coast with simple oil based seafood sauces and although not traditional, pappardelle is a great pairing for a gelatinous and rich ragu napoletana. One more note. If you want to get really technical garganelli is not completely handmade either.  It is rolled 1st through a pasta roller, then individually rolled on a wooden dowel.  Pici is completely handmade or like Scott mentioned true orecchiette is handmade.  To throw out what I said before about garganelli (and tagliatelle, pappardelle, ravioli.....) it can be completely handmade if it made with a single rolling pin and cut by hand

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I think it is made with Italian flour and water. The other pastas look like flour and eggs. As a Jew from NY you know they are two completely different styles.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Does using a blender in a recipe render it machine made? Food processors, ice cream makers also come to mind. His extruded pasta is made from ingredients in house; very different from even the best boxed pastas.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@scott.reitz Pasta isn't as simple as it seems, is it?  One last note, then I'll leave you alone.  That rigatoni pictured would have to be flour and water pasta, rather than flour and egg pasta.  I don't see how flour and egg pasta, being so delicato, could survive an extraction through the machine.  Also, the sauce couldn't be oil-based if the pasta is made of flour and eggs.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@scott.reitz It's interesting, though.  A Jew growing up in Brooklyn gets to know Italian food almost as well as Italians.  I would say that a pasta, called Garganelli, would be a true hand-made tubular pasta, shaped by rolling the pasta around a wooden dowel.

Oh and (more pain-in-the-neckishness) that rigatoni pictured is overcooked.  It should never collapse on itself.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz@scott.reitz I thought you didn't want to be a pain in the neck. Yes, the rigatoni is machine made. If he rolls out tagliatelle with a rolling pin, I suppose that would be rolling-pin made. Perhaps little orecchiette are one of the few, true hand-made pastas. I will only eat them elusively now to maintain the highest orders of pasta snobbery.

Also: I think we just wrote a Portlandia skit

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