There has been a lot going on in my life, not the least of which is losing a very good friend to lung cancer and then finding out another friend and her husband are both battling advanced cancer (different kinds but no less deadly) at the same time.  Another friend’s mom passed from cancer a week after I got back from the first friend’s funeral.   And my coworker’s daughter found a lump in her breast just last week.  So I guess it suffices to say that February, March and April have been really crappy months for my friends and their families.

My PSA: Please please please get regularly screened for cancer if there’s even a slight history of it in your family.  Insist on it even if the doctor thinks you are too young to develop it; my friend was just 35 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer and 37 when she died this past February.  Her doctor insisted her pain was from stress and never thought to check for cancer.  My coworker’s daughter is only 26.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, people.  Please don’t let weird symptoms go unchecked!

Back to our regularly scheduled frivolity…

As a college student, I don’t often get a chance to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants because it typically costs an arm and a leg, and I’ve already spent most of my appendages on tuition, so I try to take advantage of Restaurant Week when I can.  Which is not that often given my schedule.

On this occasion, however, I actually had time to run into the city to meet my cousin K and her friend D for a Restaurant Week lunch at Convivio.  After sitting next to a woman who smelled like puke on the bus and then next to a man wearing way too much cologne on the subway, I felt I deserved to smell and consume a great meal.

I’d heard that some people get subpar service when diners order from the Restaurant Week menu, and I was a little apprehensive about this.  Luckily, the staff at Convivio were very professional, thoughtful, and polite, though it was obvious K, D, and I were a bit out of our element as our fellow diners were all quite chic-looking and we looked pretty ordinary by comparison.

As to the meal, it was as good as Convivio’s reputation would have you believe.  Flavorful, attractively presented, and just enough food to be satisfying but not so much as to feel like a stuffed pig.

PhotobucketRusic bread with bits of olive flecked throughout

PhotobucketTuscan White Bean Crostini

The Tuscan White Bean Crostini was good, though I think it was a little awkward to bite into without getting topping all over the place.  The beans were tender, creamy, and all the flavors worked nicely together. 

PhotobucketK’s lentil soup with pancetta drizzled with olive oil and topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

PhotobucketPork belly in a wine reduction

PhotobucketAn in-your-face shot of the luscious pork belly

PhotobucketInside the pork belly

I stopped reading the menu as soon as I saw the words “pork belly”.  I love fatty pork.  I know it’s going to kill me but I just can’t say no to pig.  Tender, flavorful and the port wine reduction was fruity without being cloying.  I would have liked a bit more of the sauce but that’s just because I love sauces and condiments.  

PhotobucketD’s affogato (vanilla gelato topped with espresso and whipped cream

PhotobucketK’s brown sugar panna cotta and hazelnut gelato

PhotobucketMy molten chocolate cake with toasted hazelnut and hazelnut gelato

I adore chocolate and hazelnut but wasn’t as over-the-moon about my dessert (Convivio called it a budino, which I think means pudding in Italian) as I’d expected.  The cake was a bit dry and tough, though the molten interior was excellent: thick, chocolaty and rich.  Still, I far preferred the hazelnut gelato to the cake and briefly considered asking for more of the gelato.  Unfortunately, in an ironic and cruel twist of fate, I happen to be lactose-sensitive and didn’t have any Lactaid on me, so no extra gelato for me.  😦

Here is another cruel backhand across the face of diners everywhere:  Convivio closed its doors forever two weeks after my visit after its owners, Chris Cannon and executive chef Michael White, dissolved their professional relationship, with Mr. Cannon retaining ownership of two out of the three restaurants (Convivio, Alto, and Marea) in their partnership.  Mr. Cannon then unexpectedly closed Convivio and Alto despite having hired a new executive chef for Convivio.  Le sigh.

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