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May 22, 2009 11:17 AM

Spur of the moment dinner at Convivio tonight

Memorial Day weekend is great because you can decide at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon to go to a fancy restaurant and they will accommodate your non-planning self. I made a reservation for two of us tonight, and we will be sitting on their patio. I realize there have been numerous posts about Convivio, but a number of them are fairly cursory or deal with unusual service issues -- which is less relevant to me than specific info about the food.

So: those of you who have eaten at Convivio and not posted a review or in-depth observation, what are your thoughts and recommendations? Is the 4-course prix fixe an obscene amount of food? Are any of the sfizi so delicious that it's worth it to order them, even atop the 4-course meal? I find Italian desserts to be frequently hit-or-miss; are there desserts (or types of dessert, such as the crostata or the gelati) that Convivio consistently does well? Would I regret asking to have two primi (pasta) courses, instead of the typical primi and secondi? And -- any real standout dishes that "somebody at the table has to order" (you know how there are those dishes)?

I am less adventurous, meat/fish-wise, than my boyfriend -- he will eat offal, etc. I will eat one bite, gingerly. Aside from that, no limits on recommendations. And yes -- I have read most of the Convivio posts already, so I am more interested in what hasn't been said yet. Thanks a lot --

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  1. I ate at Convivio two weeks ago for lunch. Here would be my tips.

    When they bring out the bread at the beginning, the Olive Bread is far better than the Ciabata

    The chicken liver crostini is amazing but the portion is large and it's very rich so it might be too much liver for one person. Perfect for splitting though.

    The pastas were really the standout at my meal, all the noodles i tasted were cooked perfectly. I got a gnochetti with sea urchin and crab and it was great so I highly recommend that.

    Bottomline, make sure you get pasta, the chef knows how to cook noodles.

    1. I'm one who has not posted a full report. I don't think the four course prix fixe is too much, and, as I recall, the desserts were particularly good. I think we had one of the sfizi among four of us to start. The offal was wonderful, and I'm not a huge offal fan. Do you think you read any of my posts about what we ate, or should I look it up. I think I was a little less than enchanted with my pasta dish, but everyone else I was with though their meal was fabulous. And, I agree with you, the summer is a wonderful time for dining out at the spur of the moment in the city.

      Edit - The menu has changed a lot since I went, presumably with the season, but the duck hearts were excellent.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        MMRuth, I'm not sure if I remember reading your posts specifically referring to what you ate -- and you are quite a prolific poster so I quickly got daunted as I tried to do a search! But that's excellent advice about the duck hearts, and the offal generally -- though it means I'll be taking some squeamish bites at dinner tonight :) AAAHHHHH duck hearts.......

        demigodh, thanks for those tips, especially on the chicken liver since that is something my man often orders. Good to know.

        1. re: calabaza

          My husband had that gnocchetti dish, I think, and just loved it. I had a bite and it was v. good. I'm also squeamish about offal - but it really was good. I think the other dish might have been lamb tongues, but that is not on the menu.

          Hope you have a great time, and let us know what you ate and how you liked it.

          P.S. I'm also often daunted by trying to search for my own stuff these days!!

      2. Their burrata is amazingly good.

        I found their pasta to be better than secondi. Fish was the weakest.

        1. Definitely get the 4 course--it is the best value. Also they don't care which 4 dishes you get, and next time I would definitely get 2 pastas. The fusili with the pork ragu (with the fonduta on top) is out of this world and a must get. For apps, I got the veal tongue, which I wasn't crazy about--I don't think I like tongue--but my bf's duck heart salad was pretty delicious. Your bf might like it if it's too much offal for you. For sfizi we got the risotto balls which were delicious and the salami. I loved the salami at lunch, but at dinner it wasn't as worth it, because at luch it comes with amazing ricotta cheese. My bf had a tasty dessert--I don't remember what--but I didn't like mine (fried zabione or something) that sounded awesome but wasn't. I'd stick to something normal and I'm sure it will be great.

          1. long overdue report from my dinner (just realized I forgot to post!). In a nutshell, my boyfriend and I both thought it was fabulous. Though in retrospect I kind of wish -- just to get the full experience -- that we had sat inside instead of in the little front patio. It was nice, don't get me wrong. But the lights were oddly glaring white, and it is situated in such a way as to not catch a single breeze (not good for a steamy night, which is what it was when we went). Anyway, I realize that is somewhat ancillary but since this is eat-outdoors weather, I would say it's a better outdoor spot for daytime dining there.

            So pursuant to the multiple recommendations, my bf got the duck heart salad. And yes, it was pretty great. I even ate a bite (gingerly, yes, but I ate it). I think it had some kind of syrupy balsamic on it, and that was a good match. I ordered the crispy oysters (my first time eating a cooked oyster) and now I sort of wish I lived in New England. Because they were unbelievable. Fried, yes, but you could just tell they were super fresh because as you bit into them they kind of exploded with salty oyster-y juice. Yum. They came with a creamy kind of sauce that was obviously going to be addictive and it was.

            For the second and main courses, I got two pastas. I can never get as excited about meat or fish. They had a special filled pasta with veal ragu and maybe a brown butter and sage sauce, and that was delicious. Though I think I liked the burrata agnolotti better, just because the tomato sauce was so perfect. I just wish there had been a little more sauce -- I got a couple of non saucy bites that were crying out for it. Bf had the carbonara and thought it "too cheesy" -- itself an oxymoron, but whatever -- I thought it was delicious. And unlike some other carbonaras I've had (Lupa, for ex), not an overwhelming flavor of the meat (pancetta in this one, guanciale in Lupa's I think). Plus the quality of the pasta itself is just so high. To each his own, I guess. He also got the duck sausage, which we both agreed was excellent. This was one of those dishes where you wonder if the accompaniments will be tasty, and then they're not only tasty, they really elevate the dish. It came with a lentil salad, a kind of tomatoey jam, and fresh parsley. If you like sausage, you will really love this dish. It does not taste like your garden variety poultry sausage -- it was as rich and fatty tasting as pork or lamb.

            I now can't remember what we had for dessert. I think gelato. We were stuffed and drunk by that point, and though I am sure it was good (I remember liking it), it was emphatically not our reason for going there.

            Thanks belatedly for all the suggestions -- they were very helpful. What a tasty meal.