L’Impero, Michael White and Chris Cannon’s Tudor City counterpart to Alto, is about to get a major makeover. When the restaurant closes on June 29, it will reopen in mid-July as Convivio. “We’re going to have even more of a focus on Southern Italian cooking,” says chef-owner White. “It’s going to be serious food in a much more casual atmosphere — small plates, a $59 prix fixe four-course dinner, and a design that’s much less formal that L’Impero currently is.” A new menu and image will help the duo make a clean break from L’Impero’s former identity as Scott Conant’s flagship. White has been cooking some of the city’s most adventurous Italian food, and with Conant doing his thing over at Scarpetta, there’s no reason L’Impero should keep its name or its fuddy-duddy dining room. The change also invites the possibility of a rereview from Frank Bruni, who gave L’Impero only two stars on his last visit.
L’Impero in its current, castle-like incarnation. Photo: Shanna Ravindra