Say "42nd Street." Times Square and Grand Central - two landmarks evoking the hustle and bustle of NYC - immediately come to mind. Say it with a British accent and you have Tudor City - one of the City's hidden gems that I only recently stumbled upon. Of course, food was the reason that brought me there, but this is a part of town that is definitely worth checking out with or without your stomach's command. However, I highly recommend killing two birds with one stone - having an excellent meal and checking out NYC's very own "Little England." Convivio, an upscale Italian restaurant located in the former L'Impero space, is Tudor City's main attraction. The rest of this quaint alcove in midtown is made up of residences built in the 1920s that reflect the architecture of England's 15th century Tudor dynasty. This is the ultimate easy and tranquil escape from the City - several quiet blocks with just one amazing restaurant. One step in Tudor City, you may even think you have stepped off the island!
While the exterior of Convivio takes you back several centuries, the interior has a much more modern, sleek look. You get the best of all worlds - England on the outside, America on the inside, and Italian in your stomach. The contemporary setting dresses up the atmosphere and the attitude - this a definite stop for an occasion. The menu offers sfizi (small plates), antipasti, primi, secondi, and contorni (sides) - traditional Italian options. However, the chefs know how to gussy up tradition - using ingredients that are exotic and prepared together to produce extremely innovative dishes. In Italian restaurants, I find it hard to pass up on pasta - and, with such inventive options - it was even more difficult to turn them down. The whole table felt the same way and made it a pasta night - much to my approval. To offset the heavy and hearty primis, we shared a few small plates to start - grilled porcini and chanterelle mushrooms cooked in red wine and burrata with roasted tomatoes, basil, and olive oil served with grilled country bread. Both preparations only heightened my love for two of my favorite ingredients - mushrooms and the uniquely smooth mozerella. We were pleased with the small portions as the dishes were not only full of intense flavors, but also left us with plenty of room to enjoy our main courses.
Onto the main attraction - the pastas! I will start with the most unique - the sardinian saffron gnocchetti with crab and sea urchin. These are tiny coiled gnocchis (a shape I had never seen before) topped with a tomato based saffron sauce. As with the traditional pasta dumplings, these melt in your mouth with the perfect amount of crab and a dash of crispy sea urchin - a great balance of flavors. We ordered another unique seafood pasta dish - cod ravioli topped with sweet sausage and broccoli rabe pesto. I was nervous that this might be too fishy, but I ended up loving the smooth texture of the cod which was complemented by the bold meat and vegetable flavors. But, the best dish of the evening was the Tortelli D'Amartice - translation: Lover's Pie. And, yes I am in love with these large, flattened tortellinis (pies, not so much) stuffed with pork jowl, tomatoes, and onions. Talk about melt in your mouth! This pasta is an absolute must - and, while extremely rich, the entire plate was devoured. We were definitely thankful we had not over ordered at the start of the meal.
That just meant there was room to overdo it at the end. And, to be fair to both the chocoholic and the caramel lover at the table, we ordered two desserts - the crostata and the budino. The spiced apple tart was topped with a walnut crumble, caramel gelato, and caramel sauce - impossible not to enjoy the combination of these ingredients. Even more decadent, the warm dark chocolate pudding was paired with hazelnut gelato and candied hazelnuts. Ok - we officially overdid it. But, it was definitely worth it. That is the beauty of Convivio - you can eat like an American while still appreciating Italian delicacies. And, at the end of the night, you can walk outside and, with (or even without) a few glasses of wine, feel like you just might run into Henry VIII, or at least one of his wives. Move over Koreatown, Little England is here to stay in Midtown.
45 Tudor City Pl
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 599-5045
FOOD RATING (out of 5):