in our wintery round of fancy restaurants, beginning with marea for my birthday, we went on to convivio for our anniversary in february. we had been here many moons before for a j. birthday dinner when it was l’impero, and we liked it then though it felt a bit stuffy and corporate. that feeling hasn’t changed too much (in fact most of the decor appeared the same though i’m sure it had a massive change), but convivio has a different, also super well-regarded chef, michael white, three new york times starts under its belt and a focus on southern italian.
and convivio is no new restaurant, as it has been open since 2008, but still i was curious, and for the most part, pleased with our dinner. highlights for me were the lightest, ethereal really, grilled octopus served with chickpeas, panissa, olives and red peppers, and then we both devoured the fusilli served with the pork shoulder ragu served with some amazing fonduta layered on top – that’s the kind of dish i would head back for if pressed. we also got the braised oxtail agnolotti which reminded me a lot of my favorite dishes from babbo. the meats we had were good, tender, tasty, but i really want to return to convivio for their other pastas — so many to choose that all sound fantastic like the indulgent maccheroni alla carbonara or the culingiones or sardinian ricotta ravioli with mushroom ragu.
the main distraction from dinner was the service. it felt like the convivio staff wanted a hipper crowd, and if you didn’t meet their preconceived notions of that (sadly, i suppose, we don’t) , you won’t be treated so well. the attitude started with hello, continued with lack of attention from our server who was nearly inaudible and, though not directly related to coolness but equally bothersome, a somewhat stinky bathroom (really at a high-end restaurant?). so, i think if you are not super trendy but still want to try some of convivio’s delicious pastas, i would come back for a low-key, value-packed lunch. convivio, 45 tudor city place, just off 42nd street and between 1st and 2nd avenues, manhattan, new york, 212.599.5045.