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Sep 2, 2008 07:50 PM

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 …

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  1. Never mind about all the other disappointing parts of that meal, they should be ashamed of charging that price for a tomato salad ... and for lunch ... and in a lousy economy. That is a disgrace.

    Vivande Porta Via
    2125 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

    5 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Buffalo-milk mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and good olive oil are expensive enough that in a restaurant in a high-rent neighborhood, a larger, lunch-sized portion might reasonably be priced at $15.75.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I have always thought that this place was way overpriced. You are paying for the location and the name of the founder.

        1. 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.

          1. re: rworange

            I said "larger, lunch-sized portion" with "good olive oil," neither of which the original poster got.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I wasn't talking about the price of heirloom tomato salads in general, but the one at this particular restaurant described in this post. Given what was in it it was way out of line price-wise compared to what other restaurants are charging.

      2. Funny, this post is almost identical to mine in 2003 (!) where I wrote about getting 8 small clams for $15.50.

        That was the last time I was there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fig Newton

          Maybe the Pacific Heights size-two lunch ladies only pick at their food, so they cut back on the portions to suit.

        2. 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.

          1. 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.