Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Return To Big Apple

It was necessary to separate the Miami trip from all other food news, so please excuse the double-post. Upon my return to the City, my bf made good on his belated Christmas gift to me: dinner at Tudor City's Convivio. It used to be L'Impero, Scott Conant's baby. I never ate at L'Impero, though I did dine once at Alto, Conant's other midtown gem (which he abandoned when he abandoned L'Impero two years ago). I was expecting good things.

Of course we ran into someone we knew there. Of course. Sometimes I think I can't go anywhere. Good thing I wasn't wearing sweatpants. Convivio has what I consider to be one of the best deals around: four courses OF YOUR CHOICE for $62.00. That means that, rather get roped into some tiny portion fixed menu in which you choose between chicken and beef (snore), you get to look at the menu and actually decide for yourself. And the portions are appropriate human portions, not those silly pixie helpings they give you on most set menus.

We were given sparkling wine to begin, an expense saved that we immediately devoted to "snacks," which are extra. We ordered green olives with lemon zest, but we also received rich, thick-cut salami, marinated shitake mushrooms, and risotto balls that could best be described as Kraft macaroni and cheese rolled into a ball and deep-fried. In a good way. For our set menu appetizers, we ordered chicken liver crostini, which was almost liquid and served with divine caramelized onions, as well as hamachi crudo with delicately chopped peppers and herbs. My pasta course, hand-cut spaghetti with mussels, clams, and shrimp, lacked flavor, but my companion's rich carbonara made up for it. And then there was the fusilli, sent from the house. It came in a rich tomato ragu of cubed pork shoulder and made me forget all about my boring little seafood pasta.

He had a piece of dorade, served with delicate mushrooms. For me, the lamb, two small chops served over a bed of white beans and tomatoes. By then, the beans were too much; I ate one chop and donated the second. I wanted room for dessert and the remainder of my 2001 Taurasi (the wine list focuses on southern Italian wines, with an estimable Taurasi list; don't waste your time looking for Barolos here), and that wasn't a mistake. A gingerbread cake was topped with a light spiced cream and poached pears. The panna cotta, served in a glass, came with lime yogurt gelato and huckleberries. And the house again sent their regards, this time in the form of a parfait made from amaro gelato and a fresh shot of espresso. Not that we needed it.

45 Tudor City Place
New York, NY 10017