EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – Number Five



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Carnevino isn’t just one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas; it might be the best steakhouse in the country. It also might be, on any given night, the best Italian restaurant in Las Vegas. Throw in a killer cocktail program, a warm, spacious and inviting lounge, and a world-class wine list and you have the fifth most essential restaurant in Sin City.

Its sirloins, porterhouses, and rib eyes have caught the attention of Black Angus aficionados the world over, and meat lovers now flock here to get them. There may be a certain civic pride behind my calling Carnevino the greatest steakhouse in America, but I’ll stack the following arguments up against any emporium of prime anywhere. First, there’s the meat: all-natural, hormone-free, and hand-selected by Adam Perry Lang—a professional “meat forager” and a man who Rachael Ray (along with many others) has credited with raising the industry standard for the beef we eat.

In addition, all steaks are dry-aged in Las Vegas by the restaurant itself—not by some middleman—in a climate-controlled, 2,000-square-foot meat locker. This process achieves otherworldly tenderness and taste after two to eight months—the prime amount of time for these beauties and “riserva” cuts to reach their peak, according to Chef de Cuisine Nicole Brisson.

Finally, no other steakhouse in America has such a hands-on, intensive-care selection-and-aging process, and no other purveyor of prime can stake a claim to also being one the great Italian restaurants anywhere.

Thus does this kitchen also dazzle with everything from house-cured salumi, such as coppa, lardo, and lonza, as well as a variety of pastas as diverse as ricotta and egg ravioli, to a black fettucine with crab, jalapeños, and shallots. Put these together with the purest Pennsylvania free-range veal from Marshal Farms, as well as Heritage Foods pork, and you have a steakhouse of uncommon sophistication. The wine list is just as impressive as the steaks are … and just as expensive.

Purists might kvetch that grilling a slab of animal muscle or prepping pasta with pancetta and pecorino doesn’t require the same precision as the pristine preparations purveyed at Twist or Raku, but for all of them we have but two words: Shut the f*ck up.

Max Jacobson: “Initially I thought to exclude Carnevino, but I came to my senses. I don’t agree with John about the ultra-aged beef, but Adam Perry Lang is a fabulous butcher, and the chef here does make the best salumi this side of Bologna.”

Favorite Dishes: All House-Cured Salumi; Carne Crudo Alla Piedmontese (Steak Tartare); House-Cured Pastrami; Grilled Octopus; Shrimp Alla Diavola; Black Fettucine With Crab And Jalapeños; Bucatina All’amatriciana; Ricotta And Egg Ravioli; Grilled Sweetbreads; Veal Chop; Osso Buco Alla Milanese; All Steaks.




10 thoughts on “EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – Number Five

  1. I love Carnevino, but I have one minor quibble about your piece: “Shut the f*ck up” is four words.

  2. One more quibble: Rachael Ray, really. I could care less what Rachael Ray thinks about anything food related or otherwise.

  3. …I am friends with someone who works at one of your top three…we compared notes on Carnevino..when he dines out and the server asks where are you from he always says LA….so as we compared notes there was one item in common….the servers always try and rape you on price….ALWAYS…and not with a kiss- LOL the f ing up sell happens weather you want it or not…my Carevino Yelp review was taken down and had about 15 useful hits…one time I went in there with a couple of high roller foodies and before I knew it the frggin server is grinding truffles all over the table and no one asked…WTF….this is the Batali MO have seen it many times…I am sure Robuchon dreams of the day he can cook a steak as well as Batali….or maybe not…

  4. ELV responds: This is not the first time we have heard of up-selling insults at Carnevino, but it has been years since the last one, and we have sent dozens, if not hundreds, of people there without complaint. Eating Las Vegas would be most interested if others had the same experience as Hector, AND would be willing to post their comments — anonymous or otherwise — on this site.

  5. Was at Carnivino’s last night. Had a great experience. No up sell from any staff last night at all.
    My wife had a ravioli special as her main and she stated it was “orgasmic” Put a lot of pressure on me for later LOL
    I must speak about the steak though. I had a bone-in ribeye for one ($95) It was great but like the last 3 times I have been here the steak was served almost at room temp. It was cooked to my liking, m-r however I like a steak that has at least some surface temperature when it is served. Not sure if anyone else has noticed this with steak meals served here.
    Just spent 10 days in the Grove north of SF drinking some incredible wine so I put a little pressure on the Som. He did a great job picking me a super tuscan that fit our meal very well at a decent price point considering the venue.
    GD…..the panna cotta desert was f… amazing!
    Carnivino’s deserves to be in the top 5.
    Well done JC

  6. …well it gets better…first I would like to remind people that when I use the euphemism up sell- I actually mean the server delivering food that was not ordered…noboday at my table ordered truffles, the oleaginous server just started hammering us…and like I said I have heard that before….so….

    …here is the part where Carnevino really shows that it is nothing more than a two bit steak house…I was dining there late on a very slow night for them as the room was about a 1/3 full and my friends were dropping some serious coin and had ordered a couple of bottles of wine from the wine list and also brought a very expensive bottle as well….and I mean $750 plus….so…as is their custom they told our server that they would like to send a glass of their wine back to the head Chef…two minutes later our ever talented server scurried back in his feral manner and said…Thank you but the CHEF is TOO BUSY…WTF…are you kidding me…you have no idea of the decorum involved with that…REALLY…when my friends go to Picasso’s Julian Serrano greets them with in minutes of them coming in house…either at the bar or their table…would Serrano tell a high end customer he was too busy…F NO…and…my comrade from one of your top three restaurants said his chef would NEVER EVER refuse a glass of wine offered by a customer…NEVER…the fish stinks from the top down…PERIOD…

  7. John, you should ban these Yelp tards from the site. Particularly when it’s someone who appears to be riding on the coin of his high roller friends and not the one who’s paying. He didn’t even comment about the food or wine, just whined. Personally, I’ve always had a great meal at Carnevino and B&B.

  8. Nah, don’t ban the Yelpers. Educate them, debate them, let them learn a thing or two about a thing or two.

  9. I’ve always had fabulous meals and experiences at Carnevino and our dinner there last November was one of my most memorable. I don’t remember his name, but our waiter was a bearded gentleman from Brooklyn–exceptional old-school service.

    The measure of a great steakhouse isn’t just the meat, it’s the side dishes, like the grilled octopus, lobster salad and the aforementioned lardo–pig fat so silky that I thought of slathering it on something other than bread.

    For those of you who haven’t savored the riserva, call Chef Nicole and order one, but be prepared. It’s got a bit of a funky, barnyard, meadow, grassy, mineral aroma, yet a true, deep beef flavor. I laugh at the astronomical prices of the Wagyu and Kobe beef that is shilled in Las Vegas. It’s not worth my money nor does it have the intense flavor of the riserva.

    And should you be so bold, request that the amaro cart be wheeled tableside. Leave the car in the parking garage and take a cab home.

  10. Must disagree on this one. You forgot to mention the overly loud and obnoxious iPod playlist of Mario’s blaring over your meal. Also, I think I know how to cut my own steak. Thank you very much staff for letting all the jus from the steak run out and get cold sooner. All for $700 for 4 with no wine. WOW!

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