Had a terrific meal at L'impero last night. The highlight was definitely the pasta. I had a special of eggplant ravioli that was tender and delicious; my husband had the gnocchi, which were so flavorful, and even meaty because of the abundant mushrooms. Our apps were a perfectly grilled octopus and a salad of mixed greens, beets, and walnuts. We didn't do the four-course prix fixe because we didn't want so much food, so I can't comment on the fish and meats. Our desserts were much better than anticipated--a review I had read had mentioned that the desserts didn't compare to the rest of the meal. However, the waitress mentioned that there was a new pastry chef on board, so I hoped for the best. While not spectacular, we very much enjoyed what we had: apple fritters accompanied by a caramel gelato and vin santo-soaked cherries, and an espresso-chocolate dessert that was kind of like a pot de creme with a think layer of cake underneath.
The service was very good. The ambience was serene but somehow a little bit stodgy. But I would definitely go back.
Curious if anyone has been to the Sunday evening prix fixe meal. The waitress mentioned that it's different than what they serve the rest of the week, more like an Italian country dinner. It sounds appealing.
Thanks for the report. I was the one who commented that, in my view, the desserts didn't measure up to the rest of the meal. I've heard about the new dessert chef. Sounds as though they've made some changes on that menu, so I hope the next time we go there, I'll find my dessert more appealing.
L'Impero has not been re-reviewed since Michael White took over the kitchen this summer, so the review you refer to was written when Scott Conant was still there. I did a quick seach and found a summary of that review. It was by Eric Asimov, and he did, indeed, mention the desserts being "a weak point." Still, he awarded it three stars.
While I liked Conant's cuisine, I think White's is even better! The restaurant remains very popular, so there's no danger of it closing.
hey gab, i'm heading to l'impero sunday night after next. will report back after. i have a good friend who is smitten over white from his days at Spiaggia in Chicago which, according to him is "still the best Italian food west of Rome." though L'Impero is southern Italian.
he's actually banking on Alto being the better of the two places, being that his strength is northern italian...
i digress. talk after the meal.