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Jan 14, 2009 07:59 AM

Thoughts on Convivio?

What are some must-try dishes? And what is the dress code? My husband wears jeans and sneakers as much as possible, but will he be underdressed in that?

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  1. I highly recommend the grilled duck hearts salad, the baked cavatelli with goat ragu, and the roasted squab.

    Jackets are not required. Most diners dress nicely, i.e., business casual. Your husband can probably get away with jeans (nice ones, of course), but he should definitely ditch the sneakers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      I also loved the grilled duck hearts salad, the veal tongue, and the pork shoulder ragu. My squab initially was served RAW, but after it came back outof the kitchen cooked, it was delicious. Service was excellent. The atmosphere is classy and grown-up, definitely not a jeans and sneakers crowd.

    2. My wife & I were in Convivio last weekend. We thought the food was fantastic. Don't worry too much about the dress code - I wore a good pair jeans & sneakers are didn't feel out of place. The only negative we encountered was that the tables around the exterior of the room, beside the windows, are quite cold - my wife & I asked to be moved to a more central table.
      Hope you enjoy - we go back in a heartbeat but it'll probably be another 5 years till we're back in NYC.

      1. My husband and I loved our meal! We spent two weeks in Italy last year and have been really picky about our Italian food ever since, but everything we had at Convivio was phenomenal. Firstly, our server was incredibly welcoming and helpful, and made excellent recommendations. The Restaurant Week menu looked good, but the regular four-course prix fixe menu (still not a bad deal at $59) was more intriguing, so we both went with that one.

        For our antipasti, my husband had a flavorful clam soup, while I really enjoyed my spicy cucumbers and grilled portobello mushrooms. The pasta course was our favorite--the perfectly cooked fusilli with pork shoulder ragu was hearty without being filling, and toothsome gnocchetti with crab and sea urchin had a good balance of flavors and textures.

        The main dishes were also well done. My husband liked his tender tomato-braised short ribs and my seared octopus was a little salty, but it had a good consistency (not rubbery at all) and I really enjoyed the fried cauliflower caponata that came with it. Desserts were good without being over-the-top: a trio of delicious gelatos for my husband, and a not-too-sweet rice pudding tart with candied fruits and grapefruit sorbet for me.

        My husband and I thought this was one of the best Italian meals we've had in New York, and we even got a nice surprise--at the end of the meal, they gave us a $25 gift certificate as a thank you for dining with them!

        1. we went last night and it was, simply, excellent. food, service, ambiance...did i mention the food? four of us, eagerly tasting each others prix fixe - the pastas were ALL delish as were the secondi - and a great wine list. can't wait to go back. have the tortelli!

          1. My thoughts are that I cannot believe the praise this place is getting.
            Is it OK and not really expensive for Manhattan in a nice room, yes.
            Is it great, definitely not.
            One of my dining mates sent his pasta back. He nor I have never done that and even I told him to do the same.While I am very critical, if I am in a high dining joint, I have a certain expectation and even an "off" dish or night cannot be below some standard(below what I expect as its best or usual, of course). This pasta was FUBAR to quite a degree. It returned with a bit of the same problem but definitely better and at least, edible.
            That was the only pasta between the 3 of us. A couple dishes were good, some were non descript and that pasta was just awful.

            That ain't getting it done to have these raves that abound.
            Off night, sure, maybe but again, you don't get to be THAT off. It wasn't just the complete disaster dish, it was also the breadth of mediocre ones. Most of that was in the preparation, not the flavor profiles which I found fine, overall. I can overcook meat and create disastrously gummy pasta at home if I want to. Is it really hard to use enough water to cook pasta in a fine dining Italian restaurant? Well, that is what the problem seemed like but I could be wrong. Doesn't really matter, does it?
            Service was good, overall, not great. Main server I liked well enough. Room is also nice enough. Location, well, that ain't convenient but if the food were great, who cares, it is Manhattan, easy to get around.
            Another new spot Xed off the list.

            8 Replies
            1. re: dietndesire

              What dishes did you like and what dishes did you not like (I assume the one you describe as overcooked meat you disliked)?

              What pasta did you order (the one you say was a "complete disaster"), and what was wrong with it?

              1. re: kathryn

                I wasn't blown away by the pasta I had there - the one stuffed with amatriciana sauce - it was properly cooked, but not that interesting, I thought. On the other hand, the duck hearts and the veal tongue were excellent. I also thought the desserts were a stand out.

              2. re: dietndesire

                I totally agree with you-food was lackluster and service worse for my recent meal there. And I am not that picky but food has to be over the top for that caliber of a place. Will give it another try however.

                1. re: dietndesire

                  Thanks for posting! My husband and I went last weekend and heard nothing but raves about it. As we don't get out often, we had really been looking forward to the experience. While the ambiance was lovely and the service very good, we were both disappointed by the food. I had the crab and sea urchin pasta and found it good, not great. The salt cod and potato ravioli with pancetta were actually undersalted in the filling (although how that happens with salt cod is beyond me!). The chick pea soup was good, but nothing special. My scallops as my main were well cooked, as was my husband's lamb chops, but nothing really special. Surprisingly, the desserts were quite good- one of the better parts of our meal! We still had a lovely night out and enjoyed the dining scene and fine service but overall the dining experience was lacking. I was wondering if it was just a bad night, but seeing similar reviews makes me feel validated!

                  1. re: heinlein42

                    Perhaps the less than thrilling meal you had could have had something to do with the fact that Chef Michael White and his money-man Chris Cannon have severed their partnership, and White is no longer associated with Convivio (and Alto). I also think the mixed reviews prior to the partners splitting was due to White not paying enough attention because he has been focusing on opening new restaurants (Marea, Morini, and Ai Fiori).

                    Cannon announced he is appointing a new executive chef, and that there will be a new menu. I'm not sure if he's arrived yet, but he will need time to settle in. However, Pastry Chef Heather Bertinetti remains with Cannon at Convivio and Alto, so it doesn't surprise me that the desserts were the best part of your meal.


                    1. re: RGR

                      I have been to Convivio during Michael White's tenure, and just went a few weeks ago, post. Our meal was as good as ever...I had a particularly delicious pasta with seafood and the budino chocolate dessert with warm chocolate inside.

                      1. re: City Kid

                        There should not be any difference with regard to the quality of the desserts since, as I mentioned, Pastry Chef Heather Bertinetti has not left.

                        It's good that you were happy with your pasta. To be honest, I don't care for pasta with seafood.

                        We haven't been to Convivio in a very long time. At this point, I'm going to wait unti the new chef has been there for a while, the new menu is in place, and I've read reports from people whose opinions I trust before considering trying Convivio again.