Carbone wasn’t my thing either, to be honest. It’s the only meal in New York City that I’ve ever walked away from feeling like a total sucker. That’s not to say the food wasn’t good, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to justify the beyond stupid prices for simple red sauce dishes. It was really no better than the Italian home cooking I’ve enjoyed at my friend’s nono’s when I’ve been invited over for family spreads. I would never consider going back unless it was on someone else’s dime.
As for Maialino, I’ve been a couple of times with friends and family, but I don’t think I’ve ever had anything other than their suckling pig dishes. Are the standard pastas and antipastis on their menu worth exploring?
I’ve spent a lot of time around NYC growing up (family and friends, incl. wife, have lived in and around the city at various times) so I’ve been to my fair share of Italian restaurants in Manhattan; the majority seem to have either closed up shop or fallen out of vogue for one reason or another.
I’ve always really enjoyed McNally’s restaurants though. My favorite by a long shot is Minetta Tavern, which I generally make a point of visiting whenever we’re in town. It’s not so much the food (though I’ve no complaints in that regard!) but the whole time warp experience; the dim lighting and intimate booths and that wonderful back-room atmosphere which conjures up the ghost of Franz Kline and Joe Gould, the original mayor of Macdougal St. It’s quite possibly my favorite dining room in the city.
I’ve been to Balthazar a handful of times as well, but not in recent years, and I have little recollection of much beyond the company I was with- typically family brunches in the late-90’s. I’ve also been to The Odeon once on a date night, and I remember having a great time, although as a native Montrealer, I guess I’ve been pretty jaded when it comes to French bistros. I think I had the steak-frites, which was probably fine as it’s straightforward enough. It was around holiday time, so the dining room was really festive and we drank a lot wine, which always helps. Browsing Yelp photos/reviews doesn’t really excite me much, but I would gladly return under similar circumstances to try it again.