Capping off a year of great meals, we went to Convivio on Saturday to celebrate my husband’s new job. The restaurant is located in Tudor City, a neighborhood we had never visited (it’s great to live in a city that you are “discovering” continually). Convivio looked warm and cozy from the outside with Christmas lights adorning the small courtyard in front of the restaurant and snow falling right on queue. The inside of the restaurant, however, was bustling (loud) and modern (austere) with a rather stuffy (Upper East Side) crowd. Despite the bland décor, Convivio served up one of the best meals that we had this year.
Taking the restaurant’s recommendation, which came with the promise of reasonably-sized portions, we ordered the $59 four-course prix fixe. As you may have ascertained from previous posts, my husband and I are big eaters, but the prix fixe was way too much food. By the time our secondi (the third course) arrived, we couldn’t enjoy the food fully because we were so stuffed. I would recommend ordering a few sfizi (starter snacks), an antipasti and either a primi or a secondi OR a few sfizi, a primi and split a secondi – this will still be a copious amount of food. If you make a reservation for two, my other tip is to ask for a table on the upper level, which had individual tables for two as opposed to a long banquette on the lower level.
Now that I have gotten my (minor) gripes out of the way, let me tell you about our delicious meal. Here’s what we ordered with my notes:
Stracciatella burrata cheese, pomodoro, basil
Arancini saffron risotto croquettes
Clearly, the sfizi did not help our cause on the overeating front, but they are an inexpensive and fun way to try different flavors. Skip the aranicini – they were the weakest link in the meal (not a major loss at $5).
Mozzarella Di Bufala prosciutto wrapped between mozzeralla, eggplant, tomato
Nantucket Bay Scallops cauliflower puree, wild mushrooms
We were both delighted with the antipasti. The scallops, the daily special, were served on a bed of frisée and other greens accompanied by cauliflower puree, mushrooms, and slivers of grapefruit – an interesting and delightful juxtaposition of flavors.
Fusilli neopolitan pork shoulder ragu, caciocavallo fonduta
Maccheroni pancetta, pecorino, scallion, egg, black pepper
Both pasta dishes were excellent. The fusilli edged out the maccheroni for top honors, but both were prepared perfectly and comparable to the better pasta dishes that I’ve tried.
Brasato al Pomodoro tomato braised short ribs, buffalo mozzarella, broccoletti
Ribeye Steak hen of the woods mushrooms, crunchy potatoes
It’s a shame that I did not write down the proper name of the ribeye entrée because it stole the show. The ribeye serving size was not scaled back for the prix fixe so it arrived in all of its 14 ounces of glory with a generous helping of sides (there was a $6 surcharge). The ribeye was incredibly flavorful and moist with a perfect crust. I think the potatoes were the “crunchy baked-then-fried potatoes sprinkled with pecorino” described by Frank Bruni in his review. My only disappointment with the ribeye was that we were too full to eat every last bite! The short ribs did not get the attention they deserved on account of the presence of the ribeye on the other side of the table – there was no comparison.
Budino molten dark chocolate cake, hazelnut gelato, candied hazelnuts
Apple Crostata spiced apples, walnut crumble, caramel gelato
The budino was excellent, while the apple crostata was too sweet and not recommended. The fact that I was able to force down the entire budino at the end of the meal is a testament to the quality of the dessert. Note that the desserts are full size – no scaled-back portions here.
We are off to Charlottesville, Virginia, my hometown, to visit my in-laws and mother. Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah! Tune back in next week…I am already planning my “Best of 2008” post!