Delizioso! Convivio Brings Italian Culture, Delicious Dishes
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
Photographer / Amy Payne
Pillowy pasta bursting with rich sauces and flavorful Italian herbs, leaving your taste buds asking for more. Convivio restaurant in Carmel brings you that and more. Just opened in November of 2016, Convivio has been drawing in steady crowds.
Guests come to Convivio for more than just a great meal. Just walk in the doors of the modern restaurant and immediately experience a heaping helping of Italian culture. From the Italian art that adorns the walls, to the books on the shelves and the music playing, guests will feel just like they’ve landed in Italy.
Restaurant owner Andrea Melani says that’s what he set out to achieve when he began planning the concept for the restaurant.
“I wanted to share my passion for food and Italian culture by creating a restaurant where people can connect with it,” he says.
Capitalizing on Melani’s vision of sharing his beloved Italian culture, the name Convivio was hand selected from two sources. The name derived from a literary work by author Dante Alighieri called Convivio, which includes commentary on the culture of the day. The second inspiration for the name came from the Italian concept describing a state of mind, like sharing a meal together and enjoying the moment, the meal and the conversation.
Convivio delivers all of that. With an open kitchen concept, and a simple yet elegant, rustic modern décor, Melani pulled out all the stops for his new restaurant. But the most unique feature of all is Convivio’s one-of-a-kind pasta shop. Unlike at any other Italian restaurant in Indianapolis, people can come in to Convivio and watch fresh pasta being made. It was a feature Melani spent a considerable amount of time crafting. While he was working on developing the restaurant’s concept, Melani returned to his homeland of Italy for inspiration on his new venture.
“I was looking for just the right pasta machine and I found it,” he says.
But the journey to Convivio started way before Melani’s return to Italy. Growing up in the northern territory of Cinque Terre (about an hour and a half from Florence), Melani was always around cooking. His parents owned a local restaurant and he was surrounded with food and cooking. He says he doesn’t even remember specifically being taught to cook.
“I just picked it up,” he says.
Melani picked up something else special. He met a young lady from Indianapolis on a trip backpacking through Europe. The two spent lots of time together and decided to return to her hometown where they eventually married. So, Melani’s journey into the restaurant business began in 2000 in Indianapolis at the age of 25. He started off working in a number of local family restaurants. He went on to work at the popular Italian food chain, Bravo, where he managed three Indianapolis locations.
Never losing sight of his dream to open his own restaurant, Melani began looking for a business partner and location. Both elements came together when a new friend of his opened the Ciao by Villaggio restaurant in Zionsville. Melani’s friend became his business partner, providing the financial backing he needed to make his restaurant dream a reality. Then, after exploring several open locations for the restaurant, the perfect spot in Carmel on Spring Mill Road was available. All the pieces finally fell in place.
Convivio continues to evolve, with a menu offering authentic favorites like Tortelloni Pansotti (tortelloni filled with spinach and Swiss chard in a light cream sauce), fresh artisanal pizzas and mouth-watering appetizers like fresh burrata with prosciutto wrapped breadsticks. Melani keeps it innovative by choosing a particular region of Italy and offering specials that reflect the cuisine of that region, such as Tuscan specialty, Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Although the restaurant has not even been open a full year, Melani says he’s already pleased with its success.
“We have a long road ahead of us, but so far, we’ve exceeded expectations in sales and customer reviews,” he says. “We couldn’t ask for more.”
Melani says he’s considering the possibility of opening a second restaurant with his business partner, perhaps next year. In the meantime, he plans on moving forward with business as usual, continuing to fine tune processes and procedures and new menu items.
Stop by Convivio, 11529 Spring Mill Road in Carmel just north of the Market District, for fine Italian cuisine and the perfect date night or get together with friends. Check out the menu at convivioindy.com or visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/convivioindy for information on events and specials.