Back in January 2008, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich opened their third Las Vegas restaurant, an ode to the Italian steakhouse with a name that blends the meats and wines within. Carnevino, one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas and a regular on the Eater 38, became a must-eat with its steaks dry-aged for at least 90 days (and sometimes up to 240 days), veal, pork, and lamb dishes, along with poultry and seafood specials. Of course, handmade pastas also make the menu. Here, director of operations Zach Allen talks about all that makes Carnevino at the Palazzo still relevant after 10 years.
How did Carnevino come together 10 years ago?
In 2007, Mario and Joe set out to create the ultimate steakhouse with an Italian flair. We connected with Adam Perry Lang– the foremost expert on American beef– to help source product and create a dry aging program unlike any that Vegas had seen before.
What made you decide to experiment with 240-day dry-aged steaks?
When we were building the dry aging program, I tasted the meat weekly to see how its flavor developed. We started with the industry standard of 21 to 28 days, but settled on a standard 90-day age because we loved the depth of flavor of the extra age. Once we got a feel for the aging process, we decided to see how far we could push the envelope. So we took a very small percentage of our highest-quality product to its farthest limit… the 240.
What have you learned running the restaurant over the years?
When we opened, the eating public was unfamiliar with dry-aged beef. We’ve learned that when we educate diners about the process of aging, they're more willing to embrace the product. And in the intervening years, the process has grown exponentially more popular.
What were you thinking about in terms of design of the restaurant?
Everything at Carnevino is larger than life. From the soaring ceilings of the main dining room to the Fiorentina steak.
Has Las Vegas embraced the restaurant?
With open arms. We are tremendously proud to be part of the Las Vegas community.
What changed at the restaurant over the years?
Each of the three executives chefs who has led the kitchen at Carnevino has added a few of his or her own dishes that have helped make Carnevino’s menu what it is today.
What's the must-order dish of the moment?
The bone-in tomahawk rib-eye is a standout.
What's on tap for the future?
In the next decade, we’re going to stay true to the DNA of the restaurant and continue to maintain the high high standards of meat and preparation that make this restaurant special. (But you can also expect a few never-before-seen pastas come January.
What made you decide to go with the chef lineup for the anniversary dinner?
We chose our dearest friends who love cooking with steak as much as we do. They’re the people with whom we most want to celebrate this milestone. And we figured the people of Vegas would feel the same way.
• All Coverage of Carnevino [ELV]