Eat & Gamble, Part 1: The Best Italian American Cuisine on the Strip

Read a Q&A with chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torris, who take the "best Italian American restaurant of all time" to Vegas.

This article, written by Robin Leach, appears on Las Vegas Sun.

One of the most eagerly awaited new restaurants of the fall is set to open Monday at Aria. Food critics and fans alike have described Carbone’s original New York location as the best Italian-American restaurant of all time.

Named the restaurant of the year and the decade, Carbone has received nothing but five-star awards from culinary writers and experts since opening in 2013. It’s like a scene from “The Godfather” come to life.

“The equivalent of courtside Knicks tickets or a private box at the Met,” raved notoriously critical New York Magazine food writer Adam Platt. Bon Appetit and Travel & Leisure named it “Best New Restaurant” in 2013. Chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi call it the resurrection of Italian-American fine dining circa 1958.

Bloomberg News reported a dinner date for two could run $400 without any caviar or foie gras. The veal parm, larger than a brick oven-sized pizza, is $65, and the antipasto is $48 per person. Lobster can run pennies short of $90.

Do the high prices worry Jeff Zalaznick, one of the partners with chefs Mario and Rich, formerly with Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali? Does the awesome responsibility of being named best Italian-American restaurant worry them?

Jeff, who launched after quitting his investment banking position at JPMorgan Chase, gave me a preview of the restaurant that has played host to celebrities including newlyweds George Clooney and wife Amal, and where red tuxedoed captains at each table might sound like Joe Pesci from “My Cousin Vinny.”

It’s an awesome responsibility to be called the best Italian-American restaurant in the country, if not the world. Is that a label that you really wanted to have, or is it one that you say we wish we hadn’t been quite that good?

No — we’re very proud to have that label. When we started, our goal was to take the time and care and attention that fine Italian dining from Italy has and apply that type of quality and perfection to Italian-American food, so that was really one of our goals from the beginning. I think it’s a huge honor that people are saying that — we’re very proud of that. Read more at Las Vegas Sun.

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