Let's talk Carbone.

The anticipation surrounding this Greenwich Village temple of vintage Italian-American cooking was as lively as a roiling sea of red sauce. As the third project from the Torrisi and Parm team, there was much to look forward to. If only Carbone lived up to its promise. 

The restaurant's mystique is admirable. Carbone's dining room is curtained tight from prying eyes. Inside, a brigade of waiters preens in maroon tuxes, the floor is gorgeously tiled, and menus are big enough to hide a toddler behind.

Hospitable bites, in the form of nuggets of Chianti-washed Parmesan, tomato-licked grandma bread and whorls of prosciutto, appear as soon as you sit down.

Meatballs ($15), beef carpaccio ($23) and a Caesar salad ($17)--made tableside, with the innovative addition of green peppercorns, Pecorino and ricotta salata--are all superb.

But many dishes, with gasp-worthy prices, gave meh-level performances, including Bass Alison ($30), Chinese chicken ($29), and servings of tortellini al ragù ($40.50 for three) and penne primavera ($42 for three). For a place with such outsize physical charm, the flavors of these dishes were awfully meek.

We were even ambivalent about carting our (ample) leftovers home after our meal. But knowing full well the perfection these guys can wreak with a turkey sandwich, we hope that, in time big brother Carbone will be as reliably delicious as its sandwich-shop sister, Parm.