Review of La Viola & Branzino
I had the opportunity to dine at both of these restaurants for the first time last week and thought I'd share
Thursday night- La Viola
My client made a reservation for La Viola- not sure if they asked about the other location, so we were in the main room. My first impression was that it was cramped! We were placed at a corner table that was originally a four top, but one half was pulled about 6 inches from the other. Each row of tables was spaced in this manner, which meant those of us on the end were constantly being interrupted to move in for servers and guests. I'm 6 1/2 months pregnant, so I might be a little more touchy about that type of thing than most people. We had about 3 servers who all seemed very knowledgeable, but a little abrupt with my client, who's English is a bit broken. So, as far as atmosphere & service- eh.
Now, the food. It was incredible! We were brought fresh bread with olive oil & balsamic vinegar and each ordered the chicken vegetable soup. The broth was amazing- not too salty and very flavorful- and the veggies were finely minced which made for a lovely texture. I ordered the pasta special, which was angel hair with a vodka sauce with shrimp & asparagus. It was excellent! The sauce was perfect, the shrimp cooked perfectly, and the asparagus was in bite sized pieces. She ordered the farfalle with pesto and shrimp, which was also excellent. We shared the tiramisu for dessert, which may have been the best I've had. I'm picky about tiramisu- it can be too creamy or too moist for me sometimes. This was unbelievable!! Everything blended together in just the right way.
Quick note- stopped for a drink at Tavern 17. Service was out of this world! Mike the bartender chatted us all up and made me up a fun non-alcoholic cocktail, which is a nice touch I rarely see these days.
Dinner at Branzino was as awesome as I expected. Our table of 6 was treated well and everything came out in perfect succession. I started with an appetizer portion of the gnocci funghi, which was amazing. The sauce was unlike any I've had- a creamy mushroom sauce. Gnoccis were little pillows of fluffiness. Yum! I sampled the mussels and calamari, which were both excellent. As an entree, 3 of us ordered the fish special which was a blue nose bass with saffron sauce and lump crab. I didn't really see the crab, as much as taste it but the dish was awesome! Fish was perfectly cooked and I couldn't find enough things to dip into my sauce. I ended the meal with chocolate cake and a glass of milk. Didn't think I'd finish it, but surprised myself!
All in all, I had a nice few days of food! Holiday season has been nice to me=)
Sorry that the cramped condidtions complicated your condition, but that's what I like about La Viola. We've always been seated on top of other interesting couples who sometimes end up trading wine samples and intermittently joining our conversation. And the food can't be beat. Love that place. But, yes, be prepared to be elbow to elbow.
If you're ever there when La Viola has crab-stuffed avocado as an appetizer, order it! It's wooooooonderful!