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Upscale Italian for lunch/dinner: Marea/Scarpetta/Convivio?

Hi, I'm a Baltimore Chowhounder who's looking for a somewhat upscale Italian restaurant for a day during the holidays. My budget is < $100 for two people without wine. I've been to Batali's Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles and found it to be a good place, but wasn't particularly wowed by anything other than the grilled octopus.

I'm particularly torn between having lunch at Marea or a dinner at either Scarpetta or Convivio.

I'm heard about the sea urchin crostini, lobster burrata, and the octopus fussili at Marea, but was wondering if they are as good as people have said about them enough that eating there for lunch would be worth it. Scarpetta's spaghetti w/ basil is another signature dish that sounds tempting. The fact that it is easier to score a reservation there for dinner also makes it that more appealing. Convivio's prix-fixe is also a very tempting option, but Michael White's departure from the restaurants makes me wonder if it's still as good as people have said it used to be.

Thanks in advance!

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Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

Convivio
45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Personally, I'd choose Maialino.

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    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    2 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Agreed. I would also choose Maialino. Excellent atmosphere as well.

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      Maialino
      2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

      1. re: FoodieFolks

        While I liked Maialino, I think that there pastas are not even close in quality to those turned out at the Michael White kitchens... Even considering that the orientation at Maialino is Roman and there fore not as lush...

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        Maialino
        2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    2. Convivio is as good as ever; we were there on Friday night. As you know, Michael doesn't cook every meal. The line chefs are trained to make each dish the same each time; those are the folks who truely cook your meal.

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      Convivio
      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

      1. at less than 100$ for two w/o wine, you should do marea for lunch - two courses each, 42$ pp.

        1. All of these would be a good choices, but I don't feel that Marea is worth the price difference over Convivio. I like Scarpetta, but given the choice between it and Convivio, I find Convivio more interesting (with the exception of the bread, on which Scarpetta wins). I wouldn't worry about Michael White's departure. The chef de cuisine and the rest of the kitchen staff are doing fine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rrems

            ..and the fusilli with pork ragu and caciocavallo at Convivio might be the best pasta dish in the city, along with his octopus/marrow fusilli at Marea. Those two are certainly the best pastas I've ever had here.

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            Convivio
            45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          2. Been to all three - preferred Scarpetta to Marea or Convivio, but then again I did the Michael White spots for lunch and Scarpetta for dinner when Conant was still in the kitchen, so perhaps things have changed.

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            Scarpetta
            355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

            Convivio
            45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019