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Jun 9, 2009 06:19 PM

Riva review

Well, dinner at the new outpost from the ever popular Fraiche duo has lived up to the hype. I like to go to a new place after the hype has died down a bit. We all know what it's like in LA, it’s get’s pretty tough to get a hot reservation to some of the hottest places. And after that, you usually suffer through poor execution of a new establishment working out the kinks. So now was a perfect time to try Riva, the Italian newcomer on the Promenade in Santa Monica, before the summer tourists descend.

I had heard of the pizza, and was intent on trying the molto maiale, which translates into “lots of meat”. It was delicious with light meatballs, probably veal or mixed with turkey, bacon, sausage, pancetta and red onions. The sauce was perfectly light and acidic to cut the richness of the meats. Crust was perfectly cooked, in a wood fired oven with a thin and chewy bite. Salads appeared to be substantial and seasonal. The menu offered a decent selection of wood roasted fish and heartier entrees of beef, lamb & pork. My dish of shellfish fra diavolo, was one of the more expensive, but was well worth it. A full half lobster arrived in a bowl full of clams, mussels & squid, in a spicy but fresh tasting tomato sauce. Washed down with an italian viognier and this diner was particularly satisfied and impressed.

There was dessert of sorbetti & gelati and a strawberry cheesecake, but we were both so full and satisfied it was just a bit over the top. Service was efficient and knowledgeable. Also have to note I loved the interior with all of the candlelight – it must take them a good 1/2 hour to light all of the sconces, but the effect is great. Definitely going to be a regular here, since I didn't get to try the crudo which looked very nice.

All in all a pretty positive experience with a laid back but sophisticated vibe that makes me want to visit again.

312 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

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  1. "Molto Maiale" actually means "lots of Pork", and that's what it has! Their pizza crust has improved since they opened. I like the little meatball pizza, the mushroom is OK, but I seriously dislike the eggplant parmigiano pizza! It needs a lot more love.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mnosyne

      You're right, maiale is pork, not meat! I saw the mushroom pizza and it looked good, but did not see the eggplant parm on the pizza menu. That is a little hard to pull off, unless the eggplant is real thin and fried & breaded. I will look for it next time I go in.

      1. re: Phurstluv

        Perhaps they wised up and took the eggplant pizza off the menu. Not a great loss! Too chewy!

        1. re: mnosyne

          Really? Not fried crispy & light? That's how it should be... not overcooked & chewy!