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Scarpetta, Convivio, Alto ? Rec's for a nice Italian dinner in Manhatten in November?

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Will be in for a long weekend in November. Staying in mid-Manhatten. Looking forward to a nice Italian dinner first night. A martini bar (located somewhere around 52nd to 56th streets- near Le Parker Meridien ) would also make us happy!

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  1. You would have an excellent dinner at any of the three restaurants you mention, Alto being the most upscale and quiet.

    7 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Thanks! Sounds great. Anything on the menu's you would highly recommend? Or , is there another restaurant that you suggest?

      1. re: mangia mama

        It's been a while now since I've been to Alto, but if they have the duck for two, I'd get it - my husband still raves about. Also, I've not had much luck with the fish main courses there, so I'd stay away from those.

        http://search.chow.com/search?query=&...

        You might get some more ideas from these threads. I believe the menu does change seasonally.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I do love duck. And, thanks for the info on the link you mentioned. I never used it before, but I'm onto it now!

          1. re: mangia mama

            Happy to help - the search actually does work quite nicely once you get the hang of it - I use the "advanced search" by just clicking on the search button, and putting the name of the place I'm interested in in the "title" box.

        2. re: mangia mama

          We haven't been to Alto and Convivio in a while, but we've been to Scarpetta twice in the past few weeks. If you choose to go there, I highly recommend Chef Scott Conant's signature not-to-be-missed polenta with mushrooms (To die for!); the simple, yet outstanding spaghetti with tomato and basil; and the seriously delicious black cod with caramelized fennel and concentrated tomatoes. For dessert, the olive oil cake is not exactly too shabby.

          You can see photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          The spaghetti photo is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          1. re: RGR

            OK. You reeled me in. Spaghetti w/ tomatoes and basil , olive oil cake and a nice glass wine sounds like dinner to me! But, the carmelized fennel is going to be hard to pass up! Thanks! (The spaghetti has been mentioned in other replies as well!)

            1. re: RGR

              We recently dined at Scarpetta, and had a fine evening. Food and service were top-notch. We shared the delicious polenta and mushrooms (they're great about sharing dishes, and handle it very nicely), and my wife loved the black cod. I've got to throw in two other dishes, though, that we really enjoyed. One was the ravioli with duck and foie gras in a marsala reduction; the other was the capretto, which was moist and tender with a light lamb-ish flavor. The agnolotti da plin (another share) was also very good - and don't overlook the chocolate cake or the parfait as dessert options.

        3. vice versa 51 btwn 8-9 ave

          5 Replies
          1. re: intrepid

            Thanks! I also checked their sister rest, Etcetera Etcetera. I like their menu better. What are your thoughts on Etc Etc? I'll travel for food. It's the martini's I want close by!

            1. re: mangia mama

              i like vice versa a little better

            2. re: intrepid

              Vice Versa is not very good, in my opinion and doesn't even come close in quality to those mentioned by the OP. It's a basic Italian place with overly high prices.

              Go to Scarpetta, for sure. You have time to get a reservation so it's worth it!!

              1. re: stephaniec25

                Vice Versa is pretty good, but not as good as the 3 already being considered. Between Alto and Convivio, I would choose Convivio. It is considerably less expensive and I think the food is more interesting. If you are a big eater you will appreciate the 4-course menu. Scarpetta is excellent too, and I agree with RGR's list of recommended dishes.

                1. re: stephaniec25

                  imho you are incorrect, scarpetta is good, the other two arent, and vice versa whether you like it or not, g=has never been categrorized as a basic italian place...enjoy your meatballs lololol

              2. Another vote for Scarpetta. Don't miss the spaghetti with tomato and basil, no matter how boring that sounds in print.

                4 Replies
                1. re: hcbk0702

                  See my post above. ;)

                  1. re: RGR

                    While I haven't done Alto, Convivio and Scarpetta are both quite good, though I wouldn't hesitate to tell you Scarpetta is the better of the two. It was one of our favorite meals the last time we were in the city, and I am already planning on heading back ... the polenta is earth-moving good, and it looks like I should be planning on getting the spaghetti with tomato and basil this next time.

                  2. re: hcbk0702

                    A great plate of spaghetti is never boring- not to me anyway! Thanks.

                    1. re: mangia mama

                      The spaghetti dish at Scarpetta is definitely NOT boring!

                  3. Been to Scarpetta twice and wonderful both times. Convivio I went to once and it was good, but not nearly as good as Scarpetta. I also had a wonderful evening at Babbo.

                    1. Mangia:

                      I will also support Scarpetta. You can see my review from a few months ago here:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/651436
                      As RGR wrote, I also recommend the polenta dish and I will add the duck ravioli. I was not as thrilled with the seafood main courses I had, but they were still very good.