Thursday, July 23, 2009

restaurant week diary: convivio

I had my best restaurant week meal to date today, and I was really just stealing food off Mika's plate. After last night's debauchery, I wasn't really raring to do another three-course meal but with my office moving to another location tomorrow, I thought it would be a good idea to bid Convivio adieu.

I went to Convivio last Winter for restaurant week, and while the food was good, it wasn't extraordinary. I realized today that it was because I failed to order any pasta. Convivio, it turns out, is a "pasta lover's dreamland", according to The New York Times' Frank Bruni.

I was quite firm today that I would just order a la carte. It was a no-brainer what to pick: the fusilli with neopolitan pork shoulder ragu and caciocavallo fonduta. Mika decided to order off the restaurant week menu, and boy was I glad he did! To start, he had the maiale with grilled pancetta fresca, roasted fig, rucola, pecorino and vin cotto. This, hands down, is the best salad I've ever had in my entire life. The pork both crisp and juicy, and god bless them, there was just enough of fat on it. The greens and figs kept one's guilt at bay by providing a respite from the fatty meat. Genius.

Next Mika had the orrechiette with crushed pomini tomatoes, ricotta al olio and basil. The dish was light, with the fresh flavors of tomatoes, ricotta and basil bursting with each bite.

The fusilli I had, however, was just extraordinary. I don't know which I liked best: the tasty pork ragu, the almost wickedly indulgent caciocavallo fonduta, or the handtwisted fusilli, with it's incredible texture and perfectly chewy consistency. I've never had a pasta dish before where the pasta itself was such a strong component rather than just a base. As I ate, I said to Mika, "The only bad thing I can say about this dish is that I wish it wasn't so hot so I could eat faster."

By the time dessert came around, I was so full I felt I had gorged on all three little pigs. I begged off from trying Mika's dessert, a valhrona chocolate ganache with salted caramel served with vanilla gelato. I told Mika I'd have to take his word for how good the dessert was because I couldn't eat anymore. He took one bite and offered me another saying, "I can't because there are no words to describe how good this is." And that was true. Melted chocolate and caramel makes me giddy with joy. Enough said.

Convivio is definitely a restaurant to hit up for restaurant week, and it's also one to keep coming back to at any time of the year. I can't wait to try every pasta dish on that menu!

Convivio is located at 45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017. Tel. 212-599-5045

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