Vivande Porta Via - an update ...
We had not been to Vivande Porta Via in a while (years, actually), so on a casual shopping stroll along Fillmore last week we decided to give it a try for lunch …
The menu in the window really did not sound too exciting, but we only wanted a light lunch, so we figured we would find something once settled inside. Only about 1/3 of the tables were taken, which should have been a sign, this being 1pm on a sunny Saturday, with Fillmore Street shopping buzzing outside …
We ordered a daily special from the lunch menu, an Insalata Caprese (“with heirloom tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella”) along with the Pollo Arrosto (“Cold Chicken with pasta vegetable salad”) - after we spotted to very yummy looking Pollo al Mattone (chicken cooked under a brick) in the deli display.
Since we were sharing both dishes they came out separately, first the Caprese:
one (!) heirloom tomato, sliced (okay, they were two half heirlooms, red and yellow) – topped with three (!) small wedges of mozzarella, a bit of basil - and nothing else.
No salt, no pepper, no olive oil – niente! For $15.75 on a lunch menu.
Speechless at first, we asked for salt & fresh ground pepper, but felt too embarrassed to also ask for olive oil, once we noticed this was missing, as well …
Next out came the Pollo Arosto – I had asked for a substitute to the fettuccine vegetable salad, since it did not look too enticing in the deli display. We got ¼ (!) pollo al mattone (some very dry breast meat w/ a tiny wing) – on some wilted greens, dressed with lemon juice, topped with a few slivered almonds and some shaved ricotta salata.
This was the chicken that sold for $5/half and $9/whole in the deli display, so for $13.75 we somehow had expected a half chicken with this dish - or at least a waitress attentive enough to point out that this may be a bit small to share ...
Unfortunately, the food was not the only disappointment – while seated we kept watching customers waiting by the deli counter to order, who were repeatedly ignored by the staff. One lady patiently waited about 5 minutes, tried to make eye contact repeatedly with the staff behind the counter – and ended up leaving the store shaking her head, after even getting ignored by the waitress passing her multiple times …
All in all a fairly sad experience at an old Fillmore mainstay …
re: Robert Lauriston
(!) heirloom tomato, sliced (okay, they were two half heirlooms, red and yellow) – topped with three (!) small wedges of mozzarella, a bit of basil - and nothing else.
No salt, no pepper, no olive oil
We are wandering into Zuni nectarine territory here. Unless those three wedges of mozzarella were hand-carried from a cheesemaker in Italy ... well, nothing explains that price.
I don't get to the Fillmore much these days. During the film festival, I do try to eat at Vivande, most recently 2 years ago. I have always felt that it was a good value. However, I usually order a hot pasta and a salad and not dishes that come out of the deli case.
I think the real problem here is that since $15.75 is in the same price range as Vivande's lunch entrees, you would expect a hefty, entree-size portion. What was served sounds more like an appetizer.