I live far west (Danville) so driving to Carmel to eat isn't something I make a habit of, but I've seen great reviews of Convivio since it opened and decided to make the special trip for my birthday. I love Italian food but hate crowds and especially hate waiting, so we got to the restaurant around 4 p.m. on a Saturday to make sure we avoided both. Mission accomplished. We didn't even make a reservation, we just showed up and were immediately seated. It has an upscale look but I didn't feel uncomfortable in jeans and a light jacket. The prices are what you'd expect from the location and quality of the food.
I'm not Italian but I've been to Italy and the menu is as close to authentic as any place I've been in the states. They're known for their pasta which is house-made. We started with the meatballs appetizer which was phenomenal and the Insalata Mista, a salad of field greens, diced tomatoes, spicy pecans, feta, apple, and balsamic vinaigrette. If I could order it again, I'd get the dressing on the side because it was a bit much for me, but still delicious. We told the server we were going to be sharing the starters and she took the liberty of splitting the salad for us, which we appreciated. Overall, she was a great server. I can't remember her name but she has an Italian accent.
For the entrees, we ordered the pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes and shrimp along with the red bell pepper pasta with chicken. The dishes were both underwhelming, in my opinion. The red bell pepper pasta was supposed to be in a cream sauce, but there was barely any sauce at all in the dish we were served, so it was very dry. The pesto was better but I should have asked for more parmesan. The bill is brought in a book by Dante which is a nice touch. Overall, it was a great dining experience and I'd definitely come back to try some of the other dishes.
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