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Carbone's Needs A Bar And A New Paint Job: Everything Else Is Good

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Did you recognize it? I wouldn't have had a friend not pointed it out while dining at Carbone's, the subject of this week's review. He turned a painting on the wall into a bit of movie trivia at my table and we all failed miserably.

On the back wall of the white-washed restaurant a medium sized painting of a man sitting in a boat with two dogs pops out in color from the other black-and-white family portraits and other photos. It's pulled from a scene in the movie Goodfellas where Tommy, Jimmy and Henry enjoy a late night supper with Tommy's mother. The meal is sandwiched between two gruesome scenes that end in the demise of Billy Bats.

I bring this up because it highlights the only issue I have with Julian Barsotti's new addition to the Highland Park neighborhood. For all the red sauce, meatballs, chicken cutlets and other Italian-American classics they offer on the menu, most of which are quite good, the space couldn't feel any less Italian. It's full of light when I want dark and cozy tones. There's no bar to sit and and enjoy a glass of vino while you wait for your tortellini.

To be honest, the place feels like it could sell high-end leather goods if you took away the sparsely merchandised cans of tomatoes and pasta on the shelves, and that massive porchetta hanging in the meat refrigerator and dripping on a sheet pan just behind the counter.

I mean no disrespect. I'm not asking for red-check table cloths and a portrait of Old Blue Eyes hanging on the wall. And I don't want to end up with a pen in my neck, or at the bottom of the Trinity River wearing cement shoes. (Is it even deep enough to drown a man?) But I can't help but think something is left on the table the way Carbone's is laid out presently. Still, it's a nice followup for Barsotti on the heels of Nonna, which has earned consistent praise for its delicate pastas and freshly baked bread. And it brings a level of execution to a comforting style of cooking Dallas has desperately needed.

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