Nougatine or Convivio?
Will be in NY during the holidays with family. I'm orginally from NY, but have been in LA for over 13 years so have no clue of NY restaurants. Usually my brother does all the picks. DH and I are planning a nice dinner out by ourselves on the 23rd. After researching on CH, the top 2 picks are Nougatine or Convivio -- but which one? Any other suggestions? We will be staying on the upper west side, but can take public transportation. Trying to keep it under $200 for 2 (including alchohol & tip). Thanks in advance!!
I'm a big Jean-Georges fan, but have to say I would pick Convivio over Nougatine. If some think of Convivio's atmosphere as "business lunchey", I'd almost call Nougatine's "school lunchroom". There is no atmosphere whatsoever at Nougatine (although, being generous it might be called "cafe".). The only downside to Convivio is it's Tudor City location - not exactly on the beaten path. A more convenient - and related - restaurant might be Alto, but that could challenge your $200 budget. Another Italian you might consider within your budget is Lupa.
I wish my school lunchroom had looked like Nougatine. True, the Jean Georges kitchen is situated at the far end of the room; however, I think the ambiance at Nougatine is quite nice. Wide windows at the front end look out on Central Park and Columbus Circle, the decor is pleasant, and tables are comfortably-spaced. But more to the point, I wish my school lunchroom had served food that was even a fraction as good Nougatine's.
We were last at Nougatine fro a pre-Lincoln Center concert in August. Photos of that dinner and of the space can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157622090066758/
My husband and I had an excellent dinner recently at Alto and the cost, including tax and tip, was $204. We shared a starter and a pasta, then each had a main course and a dessert. He had two glasses of wine (half pours each) and tea.
Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...
Convivio's biggest drawback in my opinion is its ambiance - a little bit business lunchey. So if you're not seeking out a romantic restaurant, then I can't say anything bad about Convivio. I've had two amazing meals there and the service is awesome. If you're trying to keep it under $200 I'd stay away from the prix fixe. Actually, if I had to do it over, I'd stay away from it anyway since I'd rather get two of Michael White's incredible pastas than a secondi any day! I haven't been to Nougatine, sorry.
Also, we found many of the appetizers large enough to easily share/split. Just a thought if you're trying to keep the bill down/try as much as possible.
Convivio will allow you to substitute a pasta for the main course if you prefer to have two pastas. The wine list, though it has many pricy selections, also has a number of really good choices in the $35-$40 range, making it possible to have the prix-fixe with wine for right around $200. Alternatively, a shared appetizer, shared pasta, 2 mains and a shared dessert will be enough food and a bit less expensive, though the prix-fixe gives you the most food for the money. Though I would not call the atmosphere romantic, I do think it has a feeling of warmth.
Thank you so much for all the responses!
I guess the criteria was - first and foremost - fabulous food. A nice (maybe romantic) atmosphere is probably a distant second. We love Italian food - which LA does okay, but I think NY may do a little better. So maybe something we couldn't find in LA.
You can't go wrong with either. Just pick the one where the menu appeals to you more.
Not knowing what your criteria are or why you chose these two it is difficult to recommend alternatives, but some of my favorites that are roughly in the same price range are:
Personally, I much prefer Nougatine. While Convivio has a nice room and seems to do everything right, I kept feeling, "close, but no cigar". Perhaps it's just that Nougatine suits my style and tastes better, but I've always enjoyed my meal there more. Usually end up at Convivio because I'm invited - Nougatine is the one I choose for myself.