Let me start off by saying this - I'm usually on a full RFB comp whenever we're in Vegas - and for the last several years, Carnevino - along with Bouchon and the original, now closed Andre's downtown - was one of the few restaurants in Vegas that I've gladly been willing to pay my "own" money to eat at over and over again, if that gives you any indication how good I think Carnevino is [though this time it was finally on a comp]. And let me continue by saying that I travel a lot for business - so I've eaten [literally] hundreds - if not thousands - of meals at steakhouses all over the US & Canada on a regular basis since I get to write the dinners off - so when it comes to steakhouses, I've been to them all - the highest-end of the high, the mid-and-south-western honky-tonk sawdust ones that are casual but serve up some killer beef, all the top chains and probably ever major city's "signature" unique steakhouse as well - and I still look forward to my dinners at Carnevino more than at any other single steakhouse I've ever been to that I can think of. So what makes Carnevino so great, you ask? Is it just that they dry-age their beef in a city [and country] where inferior wet-aging has sadly become the norm? Yes, but that's just one part of it - what truly makes Carnevino stand head & shoulders above the rest is that while technically it's a steakhouse, it's also an Italian place - and we're not talking Olive Garden Italian, either - we're talking seriously authentic Italian, from a menu put together by one of the country's pre-eminent authorities on Italian cuisine, Mario Batali. Got a wife [like mine] who isn't a big steak eater? Take her to Carnevino - if she's anything like my wife, she'll absolutely go nuts for Carnevino's pasta dishes - and you'll still get to have that steak you're craving at the same time - it's a kill two birds with one stone restaurant in that respect. The setting is great, too - a big, high-ceilinged room with more than adequate spacing between the tables so you don't feel like the people next to you are eating on top of you and eavesdropping on your conversation. And then there's the fact that while Carnevino is still a white-tablecloth joint with the excellent service you'd expect when dining at this price point - it isn't in any way stuffy - rock music plays in the background, and the servers are refreshingly laid-back and unpretentious, yet still knowledgeable and schooled in the art of great service. But anyway - I'm sure you're thinking by now - but Jilly, how's the food? Well, let's see - on this visit for starters, we split a plate of the Iberico ham - if you like things like Prosciutto and Serrano ham, you definitely have to get a plate of the Iberico - trust me, it will knock your socks off. Next, I went with the grilled octopus - beautiful big pieces of octopus with just the right amount of char yet still incredibly tender - the wife went with the arugala salad - a refreshing change from just your ordinary salad, as she put it. Then came the main event - a beautiful, 2-inch thick "riserva" bone-in ribeye that had been dry aged for an incredible 9 months [if you want to get a "riserva" steak, you need to call ahead the night before or morning of your dinner and reserve one - they go fast - and also be warned they cost $100+ an inch, which is how you order them - by the inches of thickness you want]. Oh my god I was in heaven - my "riserva" ribeye was seriously phenomenal & worth the near-pornographic fantasies I'd been having about it for weeks leading up to our trip - perfectly cooked the way I like it, "black & blue" [charred on the outside, very rare - almost raw - on the inside] and exploding with so much flavor that I wasn't sure if I was going to cum in my pants or burst into tears of joy at the taste of it - if I still smoked, I would've needed a cigarette afterwards, that's how good it was [another note: Carnevino is one of those steakhouses that will normally slice your steak up before they serve it to you - but if you're like me and prefer to dig into that charred, beautiful hunk of meat with your own fork & knife, just make sure you let them know and they will leave it whole for you to cut as you go yourself while eating it] Meanwhile - LOL - the wife went with a dinner portion of her favorite Carnevino pasta dish, the black fettucine with crab & jalapenos - I've tasted it when she's had it before, and it is really different - tons of fresh dungeness crab meat served over luscious black squid-ink-dyed fettucine - and just the right amount of jalapenos for some kick. Just as we were finishing up dinner, my host showed up & joined us for dessert - he & I both had the warm chocolate cake [get it!], while the wife got the peanut butter tart - which is served with a whimsical smear of grape jelly. Finally, I finished off the meal with a glass of 1990 Signatory-bottled Laphroaig single-malt Scotch, chosen from an extensive menu of liquors & cordials - and it was exceptional - if you're a Scotch aficianado who particularly likes Islay malts - definitely find your way to Carnevino to try a glass of this - it's still smoky & peaty, but also with a complex layer of vanilla nutiness rarely found in younger Islays - to say it took my breath away is an understatement. [Side note: we're not big wine drinkers - but if you are, Carnevino has an extensive wine list with one of the largest selections of Italian wines in the country]. I know Carnevino has its detractors on here - and I'm sure this review will bring them out of the woodwork to tell you how much they didn't like it. Personally, this always shocks me when I think about the consistently excellent experience we've always had while eating there. I don't know if people have gone on off nights or what - maybe the fact that we're almost always in Vegas Sunday through Friday has something to do with it, maybe when things aren't as rushed they do things better - maybe the staff at Carnevino gets flustered on busy weekend nights. Maybe some people go to a Vegas steakhouse and expect [or actually want] the same boring menu - comically oversized seafood towers, a bunch of big but characterless slabs of beef, the same boring armada of hash browns and other sides - and aren't receptive to or appreciative of a steakhouse that mixes up the formula by serving food with an Italian flair from a menu that is missing many of the tired old steakhouse standbys and instead offers up something unique - and perhaps even a little challenging - in their place. Or maybe some people have just gotten so used to the bland, flavorless wet-aged beef that is offered up at ridiculous prices by pretty much every other one of Vegas's "top" steakhouses that they've actually come to prefer it that way - and when given a piece of truly dry-aged beef - beef done the right way, the old-fashioned way, the more expensive way - they are taken aback by the complexity and almost blue-cheese like flavor profile of prime beef that has been hung to dry for several weeks or longer - who knows. I guess it has to be one or the other - because once again the place exceeded our already high expectations - a truly fabulous meal & great service as always. Carnevino may not be for everybody - but if the next time you're in town you want steak but have tired of the same old steakhouses and are willing to dine with an open mind - you really should check Carnevino out.