I dined at Carbone, the Italian restaurant beloved by Rihanna and the Kardashians, and I get why it's a celebrity hot spot

Overall, I had a great night — but I thought the food could have been better.


I had lots of leftovers to take home.

Rachel Askinasi/Insider

My takeaway from this first Carbone experience is really that the food is good, it's just not all great. There are plenty of eateries that serve up good food and have a wonderful atmosphere to make up for the lack of awesomeness, and I think that's what's happening here. 

If I'm spending money at a Michelin-starred restaurant with prices like Carbone's, then I'm expecting the meal of a lifetime. But the food I ordered didn't live up to those expectations — especially given all the added hype surrounding the rigatoni and veal parm.

However, I am well aware that I didn't try everything on the menu and maybe there are some really wonderful dishes with the thoughtfulness level of the baked clams that I'd be more satisfied with. 

But for the rich and famous, I get it. If the $300 check for two doesn't feel like a lot to you, I could totally see why you'd visit again and again. 

The great thing about Carbone is the atmosphere. It feels like it's been around for a century, but it only opened nine years ago — and I think that's the point. Maybe Carbone isn't an NYC dining giant because of the food. People want to go there because they want to feel like they're in it. They want to nonchalantly dine next to Rihanna or a Kardashian or, in my case, Kathy, Nicky, and Rick Hilton. 

So if that's your thing, sure, try your best to get a reservation and get all dressed up for what will surely be an entertaining evening. Just don't expect too much from the food.