Sunday, November 22, 2009
East Meets West At Convivio
I live on the West Side of Manhattan while the majority of my friends (and frequent dinner companions) live on the East Side. In the past, whenever we made plans to meet for dinner I would persuade them to venture across 5th Avenue to my side of town. With the list of stellar East Side restaurants continually expanding, I now make a conscious effort to eat east of 5th Avenue.
This weekend I headed east to join a friend for dinner at Convivio, an Italian restaurant nestled in historic Tudor City (an area that occupies 40th Street to 43rd Street between First and Second Avenues). The quantity and quality of food served from Convivio's $59 prix fixe menu (2 sfizi or 1 antipasti; 1 primi; 1 secondi- including the speciale del giorno; 1 dessert) make it one of Manhattan's rare bargains.
The stracciatella- fresh cheese curd and pomodoro with two slices of crusty bread is served cold
The zucchine- charred baby zucchini topped with basil pesto and cheese was my least favorite dish. The zucchini had a soggy texture and I had a tough time getting past the burnt flavor
The polipo- grilled octopus on top of chickpea panissa with olives and red peppers was delicious
I tasted sea urchin for the third time in my life (the third time's a charm...) in Convivio's malloreddus- sardinian saffron gnocchetti with crab and sea urchin
The sauce in the fusilli- pork shoulder ragu and caciocavallo fonduta- is exceptional
The branzino (a special of the day) arrived with caperberries, cannellini beans, and stewed tomatoes even though the menu specified parsnips, baby fennel confit, porcini mushrooms, and black truffle vinaigrette
Tonno- seared fennel crusted big-eye tuna, served with butternut squash caponata and vin cotto was a perfect rare
The sorbetti trio- mango, mixed berry, and lime with yogurt- was light and refreshing
Brasato d’Ananas- vanilla braised pineapple, coconut custard and mango sorbet was a great way to end a flavorful dinner