A report in the Dallas Morning News says that Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine will close on January 1, 2023, change its name, renovate, and reopen anew next year. And the new name will absolutely not be Carbone or anything that sounds like it, per the terms of the deal— though owner Julian Barsotti will reportedly be able to hang family photos and imagery of Carbone’s on the walls. The restaurant is named after his grandfather.
After a decade of offering fine Italian dining, Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine in Oak Lawn filed a trademark infringement lawsuit this summer against Major Food Group after it opened its New York City export Carbone Dallas in the Design District. The restaurant later withdrew the lawsuit, bringing the saga to a close.
Barsotti chalks the name change up to his willingness to compromise and a lack of concern that his longtime customer base is going anywhere. “In my restaurants, we often preach communication is the root of all success, and failure,” Barsotti said in an email to Eater Dallas. “I think this situation is a good example of that gospel. If Jeff [Zalaznick, Major Food Group co-founder] and I had communicated earlier, our issue would have been resolved a long time ago.” He went on to iterate that he has great respect for the hospitality group and that he’s been a longtime customer.
Barsotti’s lawyer Matthew Yarbrough shared with the DMN that Carbone Dallas and its parent company Major Food Group are “assisting” Barsotti in opening his new restaurant, which will also serve Italian food. Yarbrough did not spell out exactly what that means to the DMN and Eater Dallas has reached out for a comment.
Apparently, one of Barsotti’s other restaurants, Odelay, played a role in smoothing things over, too. Barsotti and Zalaznick reportedly went there for a bite after a mediation session and found common ground, according to the DMN. Zalaznick now characterizes their relationship as “a good friendship,” in a comment he gave the DMN.
“We like each other, and made the easy decision that we did not want to fight in court for two to three years,” Barsotti says. “Carbone and Carbone’s are very different restaurants experientially, but the similarity of names was/is confusing.”
Barsotti explains that he signed a 10-year extension on the lease at Carbone’s Fine Food prior to the lawsuit being filed and that a renovation has been in the planning stages for some time. Barsotti notes that his restaurant’s pivot from initially operating as a deli and full-service restaurant to focusing solely on full-service left it “limited” by the design.
“Our renovation will allow us to add a bar, more comfortable seating, and fix inefficiencies that have limited our ability to expand the menu,” Barsotti says. “In the end, given all circumstances, I was willing to compromise on the name.”
And, Barsotti adds, current chef Jonathan Neitzel and pasta maker Juanita Cruz will be staying with the new restaurant. “Carbone’s 2.0 will be elevated, evolved, and rejuvenated,” he says
So, the end of the story is: There’s one more new Italian place in Dallas to look forward to in 2023.
Update: November 21, 2022: 4:04 p.m.: This article was updated to include comments from Julian Barsotti.