Restaurant reviews

Restaurant review: Osteria Convivium

Sheila Christensen Jeanneau

Revamped and re-energized, this sophisticated restaurant offers Italian food with a few American twists.

Restaurant review: Osteria Convivium

(Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

I was a bit surprised when I was notified that we were going to be visiting Osteria Convivium, since my last visit was approximately a year prior when it was called Hostería Convivium. We were told they had made some big changes, including major decor renovations and various menu changes. The restaurant shut its doors for a few months last year and revamped the entire restaurant in a relatively short time. They’ve since reopened under the name Osteria Convivium (Osteria meaning “unpretentious trattoria” and Convivium “to share”). All areas of the restaurant have been transformed with a decor less sterile and more inviting. I also noticed a more sophisticated vibe.

One of the first changes I noted when I walked inside was the new lounge area, with pine green banquette seating along with comfortable black chairs and small round tables. This area is conducive to hanging out and relaxing and enjoying light fare and perhaps a glass of wine or a cocktail or two. Across from this lounge area is another area of casual seating with small, round marble tables and chairs and where the special wine area is located.

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(Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

I particularly enjoyed the various hues of green that ran throughout the restaurant, as well as a vibrant and exotic hand-painted mural located on an entire wall in the main dining area. Full of rich, lush and dark colors, it features nature, greenery, and a pink flamingo.

This new Osteria Convivium was already feeling more elegant and intimate than before and with a new spirit.

Andrea Ruiz de Somocurcio is still one of the owners, along with the welcome addition of her brother, Chef Diego Ruiz de Somocurcio, the new executive chef and co-owner.

Diego has previously worked at Carnal as well as Malabar and is one of the most personable, charismatic and passionate chefs out there.His genuine zeal and energy is contagious and we knew we were in for some delicious plates and a wonderful gastronomic experience. We were also excited to hear about Diego’s upcoming culinary adventures in two new proposals hopefully opening up soon, The Smoke House and Ox.

Besides Diego and Andrea’s involvement there is also another integral part of this team, their main chef, Rafael Estremadoyro, who they have the utmost confidence to continue turning out the respectable delicious cuisine at Osteria Convivium.

The new theme at Osteria Convivium is Italian food with some American twists. Both Andrea and Diego lived for a period of time in the U.S. so this concept is no surprise. Convivium has retained some of the popular house dishes which were working well, though Diego told us that they have changed the bases of most of the sauces.

Convivium’s Innovative Enomatic wine serving system remains, however the bar area has been totally redesigned. Accompanying the a vast selection of new cocktails is the addition of talented mixologist, Tatiana Flores. Tatiana may be young, but she knows her cocktails. She will soon be competing in a world bartending competition. We enjoyed several of Tatiana’s cocktail creations. The first one was La Traviata (S/ 29), a bold concoction of 23-year old rum (Ron Zacapa 23), an Italian herbal digestif, vermouth, cacao and more. This cocktail was dark, rich and packed a powerful punch and was accented with a sprig of rosemary and served in a martini glass. This drink should be savored and sipped slowly for maximum enjoyment.

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Tatiana Flores serves a new selection of cocktails (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

Riding the current trend of Moscow Mules is the Huracán Mule (S/ 42), a refreshing beverage of Grey Goose vodka, tumbó fruit, ginger beer, a basil simple syrup and star anise accented with a sprig of mint and served in an icy copper mug. I have been enjoying Moscow Mules for years and I am a fan of vodka so I found this one to be my favorite (no surprise).

Our last cocktail, the Golden Spritz (S/ 39), is another cocktail that is enjoying popularity, especially during the summer months. The concoction included Viñas de Oro Torental pisco, Aperol, grapefruit juice and tonic water, was both slightly bitter and refreshing.

We also shared a glass of Amaro Lucano, the Italian herbal digestif liqueur, served over ice and with a big slice of orange zest at the end of our lunch.

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Arancini, plump croquettes filled with risotto and cheese (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

We began our culinary experience at Convivium with a plate of arancini (S/ 24), six plump croquettes which were filled with risotto, Italian taleggio and Gorgonzola cheeses. The croquettes were perfectly crispy and the cheese had melted inside of them. The arancini were accompanied by a marinara sauce, but these croquettes were so flavorful that I found myself dipping some in the sauce and eating some without it. Great way to start our meal.

Next up was their “house” pizza, the Convivium(S/ 46). The pizza was prepared in a wood-fired oven and the dough had a thin, slightly crunchy texture. The topping for this particular pizza had the semi-soft taleggio cheese, a scattering of truffle pearls and a light tomato sauce. There are five other pizzas to choose from as well.

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House pizza, top, and Zucchini Carpaccio, bottom (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

The day of our visit we were served one of Convivium’s specials which was a zucchini carpaccio (S/ 36). Ultra-fine grilled slices of zucchini were accented with dollops of stracciatella cheese and drizzled with olive oil and accented with basil leaves, sprouts and generous slices of Parmesan. This was an extremely light dish, appropriate for this hot summer season. Convivium offers two appetizer and two entree specials which change approximately every few weeks.

I am a fan of tartar and Convivium’s version of tuna tartar, tartare di tonne (S/ 39) was excellent. The bottom layer of thin slices of avocado and a generous amount of fresh chopped tuna, topped off with sprouts, hit the spot. The addition of salty capers mixed into the tuna gave this tartar an added dimension of texture and flavor.

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Tartar with layers of avocado and fresh tuna (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

Our next dish was most definitely a “comfort food” moment. The polpette (S/ 38) was an exquisite plate: three plump Angus beef meatballs drenched with a homemade marinara sauce and a generous scattering of ricotta cheese was heavenly to a few of us at our table. The meatballs were accompanied by a sartén of creamy arborio rice and tomato topped off with an ultra-crispy topping of breadcrumbs. This dish was a delight of soft texture and flavors. Our photographer, Marco (who is 100% Italian), was perhaps not as enthralled with these meatballs as the rest of us. He was expecting the typical dense texture and flavor. These were Diego’s spin of Italian meatballs with an American twist. I personally loved them and will definitely order these again.

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Creamy risotto with arugula (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

Our last dish before the desserts was one of the four risottos offered on the Convivium menu and one of their most popular, the risotto con rucola e gran padano (S/ 36). Convivium uses the highly-praised, “Rolls Royce” of rice, carnaroli “Acquerello,” in all of their risotto dishes. This medium-grain rice has a firmer texture than arborio rice and keeps its shape better. This arugula risotto dish was light green in color and exuded a rich, but not overpowering flavor of the arugula and a creamy texture. The Gran Padana cheese complimented this risotto perfectly.

Desserts were wonderful. The first was a very refreshing limón y albahaca sorbet (S/ 14). Two scoops of this perfectly refreshing, crisp and slightly intense lime and basil combination made us all smile after every spoonful at the table.

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Lemon and basil sorbet (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

We also sampled one of their gelatos, cardamom and pistachio (S/ 18). This gelato, a bit citrusy, minty, herbal and spicy all at the same time, made me happy. I enjoyed the texture of the specks of cardamom along with the pieces of pistachio nuts. It was both an interesting and delicious combination.

Our last dessert was totally unique and leaned towards the decadent side. The panna cotta al caramelo (S/ 24) was an assortment of a caramel panna cotta along with flambeed bananas and crispy toasted cocoa nibs (bordering on an almost burnt flavor, but so delicious and intense). This dessert was vivid for both the eyes and the palate. All of these unique components made for an intriguing dessert.

Prices can be a bit on the higher side here, but it coincides with the high quality ingredients incorporated into the dishes at Convivium. For a smaller hit to the wallet, you might want to consider ordering from the Enoteka menu. You can order from this menu if you are seated in the lounge area. The menu is condensed in size, but offers plenty of excellent selections. The main dining room is typically closed from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., but seating is available in the comfortable lounge area. You will find items such as olives, bruschetta, panini, pizza, salad, and cheese and charcuterie platters for sharing.

Kudos to the team at Osteria Convivium and their youthful and sophisticated launching. I am looking forward to returning to Osteria Convivium and experiencing another enjoyable dining experience along with the renewed energy of the attentive wait staff.

Osteria Convivium
Calle Santa Luisa 110
San Isidro
Phone: 221-8511
Reservations accepted
Capacity: 70 people
www.convivium.pe
Facebook
Parking: street, parking lot or valet parking
Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: 12:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Saturday: 7:00 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Closed Sunday during summer

Antipasto: S/ 24-38
Carpaccio/Tartars: S/ 34-40
Salads: S/ 24-40
Pizzas: S/ 28-54
Pastas/Risottos: S/ 28-55
Main dishes: S/ 39-80
Side dishes: S/ 12-18
Desserts: S/ 14-32
Sodas/Water: S/ 7-18
Coffee/Tea/Infusion: S/ 6-14
Beer: S/ 12-21
Extensive wine and cocktail list

Enoteca Menu:
Cheese/Charcuterie boards: S/ 65
Marinated or stuffed olives: S/ 12-16
Starters: S/ 20-38
Bruschetta: S/ 12-20
Panini: S/ 18-24
Pizzas: S/ 28-54
Focaccia: S/ 18-24

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