I went to L'Impero for the first time for restaurant week. We had a waitress who was clearly new and was quite overwhelmed but I've seen that before during restaurant week. Who cares? If I had a place I would train new waitstaff during RW too.
Anyway, I wasn't blown away by the food. I found everything to be executed almost flawlessly (shortrib braised exactly right, barley cooked so it retained just a tiny bit of bite, authentic pasta) but the flavors just didn't wow me. It seemed to be very "safe" if that makes any sense. I try to eat at Babbo when I'm ready to splurge on high end Italian and I find those flavors bold. I thought L'Impero seemed a little afraid to be bold with its flavors. I'd love to see what Scott Conant could do with some deliciously rich game, smelly cheeses, or even hot pepper. Maybe the regular menu is different but at this point I'd be much more likely to eat at the bar at Babbo. My fiancee who lived in Italy for quite some time thought the Spaghetti with Tomato was almost exactly like the pasta in Rome but it's still one of the most basic of pasta dishes. I don't want complicated, just a little more excitement.