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

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projectcookie Dec 23, 2010 01:33 PM

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. g
    gutsofsteel RE: projectcookie Dec 23, 2010 02:25 PM

    Personally, I'd choose Maialino.

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    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    2 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel
      f
      FoodieFolks RE: gutsofsteel Dec 30, 2010 11:39 AM

      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
        erica RE: FoodieFolks Dec 31, 2010 04:35 AM

        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. m
      martyl9 RE: projectcookie Dec 29, 2010 08:02 AM

      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. s
        selenster RE: projectcookie Dec 29, 2010 01:37 PM

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

        1. r
          rrems RE: projectcookie Dec 29, 2010 02:21 PM

          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
            erica RE: rrems Dec 30, 2010 03:01 AM

            ..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. uhockey RE: projectcookie Dec 30, 2010 04:16 AM

            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.

            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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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

            1. s
              scanmike RE: projectcookie Dec 30, 2010 10:43 AM

              I have only eaten at Convivio during restaurant week for lunch. We all found it excellent. I do remember someone ordering the pasta with pork ragu and they loved it. I can't remember what others had since it was some time ago, but the whole experience was great and every dish delicious. We all felt we would go back and really should now that I think about it. Waitstaff great and not pretentious.

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              Convivio
              45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

              1. s
                steakrules85 RE: projectcookie Dec 31, 2010 05:29 AM

                You really can't go wrong with any of them. They are all top Italian restaurants in the city and rank among my favorites. Here is what I would suggest:

                Scarpetta- The cod entree is superb and doesn't get mentioned enough like other signature dishes- the polenta and the spaghetti. The polenta with mushrooms is incredible and as a polenta lover I can tell you this is probably the best I have ever had. Definitely a must order. The spaghetti is a very very solid dish, but again for me it was not life altering. Maybe it is because I am 100 percent Italian and feel I can get even better right at home but it wasn't something I would order again. But to try it once it was a solid dish. Again their bread basket is delicious- great stromboli and I love that they give you the eggplant, tomato, and mascarpone butter for dipping. Skipped dessert.

                Marea- I went for lunch and it was spectacular. The quality sure did not suffer, although I have never been for dinner. The lobster, burrata, and eggplant is certainly one of the best appetizers in the city. The fusilli with octopus and bone marrow is unbelievable and seriously original- nobody else does anything like this. Finally, the halibut entree I had in the summer was one of the better fish preparations I have eaten. It came with chanterelles, peas, and a delicious pea sauce. Skipped dessert so I cannot attest to them.

                Convivio- Seriously maybe the best bargain in the city. You get 4 courses for $62, what value! Everything I ate there was outstanding. Michael White is some chef and even though he is leaving I am sure it will still remain a great restaurant. I had the quail, malloreddus with crab and sea urchin, and one of the most fabulous duck dishes ever. They cooked it perfectly rare and it was outstanding. Looking at their menu, the entree selections change often and they usually feature a certain special every other day. For dessert, DO NOT MISS the Affogato- sinful!

                As for the other recs of Maialino- another favorite of mine. The fried artichokes and lasagna are fantastic starters. But the main event- the maialino for two is one of the top 5 things I ate this year and definitely one of the best dishes in the city.

                Some other recs for Italian are Il Mulino, Alto (another Michael White gem), and of course Batali Babbo. Although not as pricy or fancy as others, I think Crispo is a great restaurant especially for the price point.

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                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                Il Mulino
                86 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012

                Crispo
                240 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                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

                Maialino
                2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                1. ChefJune RE: projectcookie Dec 31, 2010 07:29 AM

                  New York surely has no dearth of excellent italian restaurants. We've been liking Locanda Verde lately. And I Trulli is a perennial favorite. I also enjoy the pastas and game at Felidia.

                  Besides, there are a whole bunch of holes in the wall that fly under the radar. ;)

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                  Felidia
                  243 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                  I Trulli
                  122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                  Locanda Verde
                  377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. s
                    scotty27 RE: projectcookie Dec 31, 2010 08:51 AM

                    I'm trying to figure out how you get away with $100 for two at the places you mention, but if you say it's possible...I believe you!

                    Why not add Locanda Verde, Esca, or Lupa?

                    I love Maialino, too...

                    www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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                    Lupa
                    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                    Esca
                    402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

                    Locanda Verde
                    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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