So after having read all the glowing reviews, I went to Convivio last Friday (my first choice would've been Babbo, but it was impossible to get through to make a rez).
Convivio's website claims that it has a Michelin star -- WHY that is the case, frankly, escapes me. Do they still have it? When did they get it? It's a mystery.
The place was packed to the rafters with diners, although there seemed to be about the same amount of service staff -- the dining room was swarming with waiters and bus boys. I like speedy and good service, but thought through most of the evening that it was total overkill. You couldn't have a sip of wine or water without someone immediately showing up and pouring more.
We went with the prix fixe menu: I chose two apps & two pastas, my man did the more traditional app, pasta, secondo, and dessert.
A busser showed up with three plates of the sfizi: roasted brussels sprouts, salami, and risotto croquettes and put them down on our table with a big smile. I smiled back and said that looked great, but we hadn't ordered any of those.
Two other bussers showed up, looking confused. A waiter showed up and said "please enjoy, these are on the house." They clearly had made a mistake (unless these were supposed to be amuse bouches, which would be pretty ridiculous given the amount of food. But whatevs). Since it was there, we tried it but didn't finish as we didn't want to spoil our appetites for the upcoming FOUR courses. The salami was very good, the sprouts nice but too greasy, the risotto croquettes a bland, heavy mess the size of tennis balls. I took one bite and left it at that.
The quail was ok, maybe the most "out there" dish of them all, which is not saying a lot. The sweetbreads were cooked well, but bland and boring. They were lacking some brighter contrast such as citrus or something -- anything -- to lift up the flavor.
My man's octopus was overdone -- too chewy, too dry. Not trusting his judgment, he made me try some, too, and by the time we had made a verdict, too much of the fairly small portion was eaten to send it back. Meh.
I had the malloreddus pasta which was a-ok, but once again, underwhelmingly bland. My man had the fusilli, most likely the best pasta dish we tried there (which is not saying much): rich, with lots of umami in the tomato sauce, and well-textured pasta.
My second pasta dish was the cicatelli al forno, and those were borderline disgusting. An incredibly fatty, cheesy, heavy mess. Really, most of the veal consisted of fat, and the cheese was overkill. I couldn't eat more than a fork or two. Ick.
My man had the duck breast which was cooked to a medium-rare, more on the rare side than anything, with a decidedly UNcrispy skin. Meh. Really, really meh.
Last but not least, we had a side of the pecorino potatoes -- nice, but too much in the end with all the other food.
The dessert was the great sounding "Tartaletta di Caramelle" -- in reality, a chocolate tarte with vanilla gelato and no trace of salted caramel. Incredibly boring.
The bottom line is: another overhyped, underwhelming dining experience. I have higher expectations of a 1 star restaurant; apart from that, I have had much, much better & inventive, exciting Italian food for much less money. At $230, this was an evening of wasted money. Too bad.
45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017
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