Although business was brisk on the evenings I visited Convivio, the new makeover doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the demographics of the restaurant. “I feel young again,” quipped one of the aged downtown hipsters at my table, as he surveyed the collection of graybeard diplomats and Tudor City swells staggering about the room. These stolid midtown burghers complemented their dinners with well-chosen Italian wines and a list of restrained, well-crafted desserts, designed to bring you down gently after the pyrotechnics of the meal. New Age affogatos are the rage these days, but the house affogato al caffè at Convivio is a tall glass of vanilla ice cream chastely poured with a shot of freshly brewed espresso. The rich, milky panna cotta comes in a tall glass, too, with a layer of sweet blackberry compote on top and a cool spoonful of lemon sorbet to cut its richness. The simple, edifying chocolate torta is folded with ricotta and a hint of citrus. Like many things on the inspired new menu at Convivio, it doesn’t taste like some made-over, tricked-up, big-city version of an old Italian classic. It tastes like Italy itself.
Address: 45 Tudor City Pl., nr. 42nd St.; 212-599-5045.
Hours: Lunch: Monday through Friday noon to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 11:30 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $10 to $17; entrées, $26 to $33.
Ideal Meal: Chicken-liver crostini or sardines, fusilli with pork ragù or maccheroni, swordfish involtini or squab, chocolate torta.
Note: Convivio offers a fine selection of Italian beers. Enjoy them with the crispy fried “Pecorino potatoes,” possibly the greatest potato treat since the French fry.
Scratchpad: The restaurant’s visual face-lift isn’t much, but White’s inspired menu makes this the rare makeover worthy of multiple stars.