Help choosing between Antico Arco, Il Convivio and the lesser known sister Acquolina
I've read and read and read and for one of our nights in Rome in early spring, it seems that it has come down to these three.
For the tasting menu, and also a la carte, prices are similar. All get excellent reviews and have their strong points.
For food alone, which would you choose? For overall experience, which?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
This probably won't be very helpful, but your post just caught my eye so....
I haven't been to Il Convivio or Acquolina, but I had the tasting menu at Antico Arco last summer and I have to say it was very good. The seafood risotto and pork with crackling stand out still in my memory.
It was my only fine dining experience in Rome as I was on my own for work, and I think I noted it as a 8.25/10. But I've been to most of the high end places in Italy so my standards are probably unreasonably high. (Da Vittorio was my best experience, followed in some order by Le Calandre, Il Duomo in Ragusa, Dal Pescatore, then Osteria Francescana, Combal Zero and Al Fornello da Ricci, in Brindisi).
Also, for what it's worth in terms of experience, I liked the decor and the maitre'd—and I believe owner—was really sweet throughout the meal even though I was so late for the last seating that she had to pick me up in her car after I got lost in the hilly neighborhood.
For me, for food they are all about the same level, but Convivio loses on the overall experience grade - I find it rather stuffy (and it's not like I am not familiar with fine-dining) and the service makes me feel uncomfortable.
(edit:) I guess Convivio and I just don't match on a personal level. Since Maureen, whom I respect, so likes Convivio, I'll stop saying I don't recommend them, as it really looks like it is a personal thing I have and not objective (though they have been losing in some guides, too, for what it's worth). Re: elegant fish, I'd add Tuna and on a higher price scale Rosetta, and maybe even Quinzi e Gabrieli, where I hear very warm praise from my guests, though never been myself.
I think familiarity with fine dining is not the issue so much as tolerance for a certain formality. What some people call "stuffy" or even "pretentious" others call simply "correct." It's a matter of which style you prefer (or have patience for). But I will grant you there is sometimes a slight disconnect in the air at Convivio as though the staff were newer to such formality than the clients, and one wishes the staff would lighten up a bit. But the great thing about fine dining in Rome, and elsewhere in Italy too, is that you can win over the snootiest waiter with a show of enthusiasm and a few questions about the dishes. And I love Angelo Troiani's cooking.
The one time I went to Q+G, some years ago, I thought it was awful, and at such a price! But recently I've been hearing enthusiastic reports, but only from foreigners. I've never really liked La Rosetta, though the food is superb. It's the ambience that gets me. But it's been ages. Tuna, which I love, is not in the same league. It's much more casual and the cuisine simpler, but, as I said, I love it. We were there just last week.
I haven't been to Acquolina yet. I have heard mixed things from friends who have been, and it's in a rather out of the way area. I do want to try it, but meanwhile, if you want elegant fish, Il Sanlorenzo is probably more reliable. Between Antico Arco and Il Convivio, I would say the latter is further up the scale on all counts, including price. I think Antico Arco is great, but it's on my "good dinner" list rather than my "birthday" list, if that conveys what I mean.
Thank you all! And thank you for somewhat reconfirming my thoughts on each one...that they are all similiar but Il Convivio is slightly above, Antico Arco, very good food but for whatever reason (it seems like just overall) is slightly less (and yes, it painted a good picture when MB said not on your "birthday" list) and then Acquolina which I would like to hear more about but across the board doesnt have much commentary//// I did read a review by Gambero Rosso and he seemed to very much enjoy everything so that
s still a definately plus.
Thank you again and keep em coming!