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San Vivaldo Trattoria, Warwick review

The Trattoria is an unassuming looking little place on Rt. 33 in Warwick that could be easily missed if you weren't specifically looking for it. We went to dinner on Saturday and had an amazing meal in an empty restaurant which was a shame as the food and atmosphere is so terrific.
The restaurant and parking lot are ringed with old footed bathtubs where many varieties of fresh herbs are growing. I took this as a good sign and was not disappointed.
The one word I would use to describe Chef Bigazzi's food is sublime. The advice I would have for anyone with an adventurous palate is to put your trust in the chef's hands. We just asked him to prepare his best meal for us and sat back with a bottle of excellent Malbec (one of our favorites) enjoying the excellent bread and flavored olive oil. The first course was a stuffed pepper, simply but amply seasoned with a bread stuffing along with a salad (herbs and baby greens) with a simple but lovely vinagrette and a piece of Bruschetta broiled with what appeared to be a variety of cheeses. Simply marvelous. This was followed by a small serving of some corkscrew pasta in an excellent Bolognese sauce.
At this point, the chef asked what we wanted as a main course and we told him that he was batting 1,000 so far and to just bring whatever he saw fit. It turned out to be a perfectly cooked piece of pork tenderloin with a light mushroom sauce and some roasted potatoes. Fabulous!
We were well into the second bottle of Malbec by then when chef asked about dessert. We ended up splitting a dessert of roasted peaches with what appeared to be a cross between a lemon semifreddo and a slice of cake with a light topping of cream. It was truly the perfect ending to a great meal. We both said the next day that we could easily have had the same meal again right then and been happy as clams.
When we were done and I paid the very modest bill, chef brought us an amazing herb bouquet with lemon thyme, mint, chives and other herbs to take home. What a marvelous gesture.
To sum up, I would urge anyone who truly likes food to PLEASE GO! If this place existed in the Boston area, I would be there weekly or more, it is that good. One caveat: if you are looking for a more structured Olive Garden type meal, this place might frustrate you but if you are a true foodie you will love every minute of the experience.

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  1. Sounds lovely. Would you give us a ballpark estimate of what you consider a "very modest bill" not including the cost of 2 bottles of wine? Thanks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thinks too much

      The bill with wine was just over $100. Yes, WITH wine.Please pass the word that this is a great and unique venue that needs everyone's patronage to survive. Chef Baggazi is a unique chef, almost a throwback to a time when the chef controlled everything that happened in his place of business. Please go. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

    2. I posted very similar (but far less detailed) sentiments on Friday. I'm also worried that this place will not survive. Please go!!
      Our bill for 3 with wine and 1 dessert was $80

      4 Replies
      1. re: elle

        I googled this restaurant, some sites post a menu (which looks great), other sites say there is no menu, you just tell the chef what you want. Can anyone clarify, I'm not sure if what I describe will be as good as what the chef makes. I'd rather a menu.

        1. re: care2

          I googled too! There website posts a menu but it appears that there are likely lots of daily specials. http://www.sanvivaldotrattoria.com/me...

          1. re: care2

            There IS a menu but the chef prefers to have a discussion with you; if you looked at the menu in advance and then said you wanted something from it, he'd make it for you. He'll also make suggestions and tell you what he made that day. It's really a you-have-to-be there to get it kind of thing.

            1. re: elle

              One thing I forgot to mention was that the chef brought out some pasta with sausage and rabe for a side with the pork, as if we needed more food at that point!

        2. Does anyone have any idea of two lacto-ovo vegetarians could safely eat there? I've been wanting to try it out for ages. Thanks in advance!

          4 Replies
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            You'll be fine-freshly made mozzarella appetizers, all manner of veggie friendly pastas. My first time there, I had an amazing gnocchi with pesto. The chef frowned when 2 of us said 'no meat' (he's a bit judgememental but in an affectionately crotchedy way), but he got it and did well by us.

            1. re: elle

              Sounds great. Can't wait to try it... That area is otherwise seemingly just one chain restaurant after another... Only really Twist and Haruki nearby.

              1. re: Garris

                The chains are all out on "BA(l)D Hill Road." This is located on a Secondary road and the only other things near it are a neighborhood Italian market / deli and the West Valley Inn.

                1. re: FjmArch

                  Right, this restaurant is located in the traditionally Italian enclave of Natick in West Warwick - not on the nightmare that is Rt 2.

          2. After reading all the reviews in the last week or so, I had to go to this place.

            Everything was wonderful! The chef and one other person were working for the night. The chef can be a little gruff, but we were prepared based on what we read here and on a few other reviews elsewhere on the web. The chef did not approve of my husband's drink selection (gin and tonic) and told him so "what a waste". Later we shared a bottle of Malbec. There is no written menu. The chef came to the table and asked us what we wanted. We told him we heard that it was bet to put ourselves into his capable hands. He prepared an wonderful appetizer plate with several items (cold roasted pork, salad and tomatoes and 4 of 4 other bites). Next he gave us an amazing ravioli with meat sauce pasta course. My entree was a sole with a Mediterranean sauce. My husband had a chicken and veal dish. We shared a homemade dessert (lemon cake). You might have to wait for your drink or next course if he is tending to the kitchen or another guest. I think that once he gets to know you a little and know your likes and dislikes, he softens a bit. Like others have said, I'm worried that this place isn't going to make it. When we arrived, there was one other couple. Another couple came and sat at the bar (they picked up a few things to go). That was it! Nobody else came in while we were there. The chef said things have been a little slow. I intend to try and make it part of our dining rotation. This is seriously a unique and enjoyable dining experience. I think the place would make a great location for a chowdown! Don't let the lack of a printed menu keep you away. Tell the chef what your likes/dislikes/allergies and let him create a wonderful meal for you. It was a bit of a struggle for my husband who tends to lean towards a more traditional dining experience but he said he really enjoyed the night and wants to go back too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bluebird

              A chowdown at this location is an excellent idea.

              1. re: FjmArch

                Smashing idea! If we can schedule a weekday, I will be there!

            2. Based on this discussion, we went to San Vivaldo last night for Wife's birthday. Things played out as described. Place was 2/3 empty at 8 PM. Chef went through his act; dinner was fine. Wines were appropriate. No wine list. Sauces were complex and delicious. Prices were very reasonable. Chef "Alfie" is bizarre; rude, even. His behavior is off-putting. We will let the evening mellow over time, before deciding whether to return. If he is having trouble filling the place, I would look to his behavior.

              2 Replies
              1. re: trail 6

                How do you think the chef will be with someone who cannot have any lactose? Sometimes the chef's on the gruff side have an issue with the adjustments it requires. I looked at the menu online and it seems there might be a thing or two but thought I'd check in here too. Thx!

                1. re: eenie1

                  As I recall, there was an earlier post like this. If you search the restaurant name on thie board, I think you will get your answer

              2. We went to San Vivaldo last night - we had a WONDERFUL meal...there was no menu (my sister asked for one, the chef said they don't have any) He suggested the same appetizer as the first post mentioned, the stuffed pepper, bruschetta and salad - delish. He also brought out a small plate of frittata, which was very good. For the main courses, 2 of us had the pork tenderloin with the mushroom sauce, potatoes and veggies...the pork was so tender! then 1 had some sort of veal dish he said was very good, my father had the pasta with bolognese sauce (yummmmmm) and 3 had the gnocchi with pesto - these were quite possibly the best gnocchis I have ever had since my grandmother's. For dessert, the chef said he would bring out an assortment that we could share - there were 2 lemon cakes, 2 chocolate cakes, 1 cheesecake, and 2 poached pears...the pears we could have done without...but the others were good. Oh, and there was a bottle of wine as well, the chef chose it, and according to our 2 wine drinkers, it was an excellent choice.

                The food was excellent, the chef is a bit gruff, but in an endearing way...you do not feel as if he is a chef, we felt more like we were eating in his home, and that his food was truly a labor of love...and we enjoyed every single bite! (well, except for the pears, lol)

                Our only complaint is that you you have no idea as to how much you are being charged until you get your bill...keep in mind that we are Italian and love to eat good food, we just don't go out to eat all that often because we enjoy cooking ourselves (and usually do a better job than the restaurants do, which means we rarely go out for Italian) ...and when we do go out, we often get salads and share an assortment of appetizers, thereby getting a wonderful assortment of foods...so it wasn't until we were done that we found out that we had spent approx $250 without tip for the 7 of us...I am sure that most of you will think that was a wonderful price...and at $36 pp, it really wasn't a bad price...but when we saw someone get a delish looking thin crust pizza...and a few different appetizers, we all kinda wished we had had a menu to see what other wonderful foods were available, as well as the cost! In today's economy, we are trying to really make the most of what we spend on things...

                We will definately be going back, this restaurant was a true treasure...we'll just know to ask more questions next time!!

                8 Replies
                1. re: RIRN2008

                  You know, based on the recommendations on CH, and the proximity of this restaurant to my house I have been very interested in trying it. That haveing been said, I am a little intimidated by not having a menu or knowing hte price of what I am ordering. My fiancee and I average anywhere from $30 - $60 for a nice dinner out (we dont drink) and really wouldnt be very happy to find out that we had racked up an $80-$100 bill without knowing it.

                  I am sure the food is great, however, as stated by RIRN most people today just dont have as much disposable income as they did 2 years ago. The more I think about it it is clear to me at this point that the "unknow factor" has stopped me from trying this restaurant. I think if they are going to succeed, and I hope they do, they need to do a better job catering to the average chowhound and not just those where money is not an object. BTW - I am NOT a person that is easily intimidated but would be embarassed if I got a bill that I was not expecting.

                  1. re: joe777cool

                    We were there last night, too-we had the pizza, which was the chef's idea as he heard one of us mention pizza; it was incredible. Regarding price, many of the items he serves are on the on line menu with prices. And you can ask 'how much'-we've done that every time when he suggests a wine and the answer is always $18 . We've found the prices very reasonable; we always feel we've gotten a 'deal' relative to Providence prices.

                    1. re: elle

                      just an FYI, there are no prices listed in/on the online menu.

                      1. re: joe777cool

                        Just ask him (this is what we did with a couple of items to get an idea of pricing) or tell him how much you want to spend for dinner at the beginning when he comes over to talk to you and ask him what he can do for that price. Everything we had was very reasonably priced.

                    2. re: joe777cool

                      Two people with no alcohol will be at the upper end of your price range, but not over. We've been there a few times and it averages around $80-85 for a nice bottle of wine, two apps, two mains and typically a shared dessert. Skip the wine and you're in the $60-65 range.

                      It's really worth the trip. Trust the chef. Honest. This is not a "cost is no object" place, truly -- I've eaten at some of those and I know the difference. This is a Tuscan neighborhood trattoria; it just happens to be in RI.

                      Go. You won't be disappointed or unpleasantly surprised.

                      1. re: Gin n Tonic

                        I will, and soon. Thanks for the advice and lets all hope the days of tight budgets in this aweful state (I have lived here 28 years I am allowed to say that lol!!!) come to an end real soon.

                    3. re: RIRN2008

                      $250 for 7 people, with appetizers, entrees, dessert and wine is a phenominal price.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        Normally, I would agree...but the bottle of wine the chef opened was $35, and there were only 2 wine drinkers...and we definately would have skipped the desserts if we had known what they were...that alone would have made a big difference. I guess my biggest problem, if you want to call it that, is that we had NO idea what we were going to pay for our choices...if we were to go to another restaurant and there was a special dinner that sounded out of this world but it was out of line with my budget, then I would opt for something maybe not quite as special but equally as delicious.

                    4. I first visited San Vivaldo in August. It has quickly become one of my favorites restaurants in RI, if not in the entire USA. There may be no printed menu, but the chef/owner has the uncanny ability to size up his customers with a glance and a few questions (ex: are you vegetarian?) and make perfect recommendations. The food is as incredible as his ability to decide what would like.

                      As others have pointed out, he doesn't tell you the price, unless you ask, but prices are very reasonable.

                      If you insist on printed menus, and being so brash as to tell a chef what you want to eat, this may not be the place for you. But if you are open to largely permitting a talented chef to prepare the Italian meal that he somehow knows you will love, with minimum input from you, by all means check this place out..

                      Chef Bigazzi is truly and artist.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: garyls

                        "If you insist on printed menus, and being so brash as to tell a chef what you want to eat, this may not be the place for you."

                        I take a bit of offense to this; my point was that not all chowhounds are comfortable with not knowing the price of the food they are ordering or the chef is deciding to make for them. The difference between a $40 and $80 meal may not be big for some (and in all honesty it wasnt to me 2 years ago) but today that is a tank of gas. People who are on tight budgets are intimidated by not knowing how much stuff costs, as I stated before.

                        I am not being cheap, I am being honest. I can budget $25 for a night out, or I can budget $200 for a night out.....not being able to budget is a problem. However, I will take the advice of other hounds and visit the restaurant and I will make sure to ask the prices and/or give the chef a price range I am looking to spend.

                        BTW "being so brash as to tell a chef what you want to eat" - is this a serious comment or a joke? I hope its a joke......

                        1. re: joe777cool

                          "My comment: "being so brash as to tell a chef what you want to eat" was meant as a joke to indicate how different this restaurant is from most others. In any case, it had nothing to do with price. In my experience, the prices at San Vivaldo are quite reasonable and the chef's recommendations are about pleaseing the customer, not about surreptitiously upping the bill. That said, Chef Bigazzi is always happy to quote a price if asked.

                          1. re: joe777cool

                            This restaurant is different, but really ordering is no different than if I was at a restaurant and they gave me a list of specials without prices. Before ordering one, I ask how much so I'm not unpleasantly surprised when the bill comes. Ordering at San Vivaldo, you only have the chef's recited specials list. If you want to know how much, just ask! I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised at how reasonable his prices are. If it is too expensive, ask him to suggest something in your price range.

                            1. re: Bluebird

                              Ok, im excited to give it a try, and to help out a fellow small business owner.

                              so gary, bluebird - what dishes do you recommend?

                              1. re: joe777cool

                                Oh I wouldn't be SO BRASH as to make a specific recommendation. My best advice is that you let the chef do the recommending. You will not be disappointed.

                                1. re: joe777cool

                                  I'm hesitant to recommend something only because the chef cooks with the ingredients he has that day/week. It may not be the same as what I had when I was there last. I will say that since my visit in August, I've had cravings for another serving of the tortellini bolognese. Everything we had was wonderful.

                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                    I wouldn't go with a particular plan, but if he offers you the gnocchi with pesto, homemade mozzarella, pizza, chocolate cake, or homemade limoncello, go for it!

                            2. We went again last night. This time we brought a couple of friends. We had another great meal. I'm happy to report that the dining room was packed last night. Maybe too packed. I want him busy and to stay open, but I don't want it so busy that I can't get a reservation! The Chef was moving all night. He had less time for chatting with the tables. Food was wonderful again. There were no misses.

                              1. party of 3 went saturday night. It was rainy so place was rather empty. we had reservations for 8 and were seated promptly at 8. Basically everything others have said is true. No menu, no wine list...he asks what you like...I said Veal Parm...he said "Hey for veal parm go to providence or olive garden..I make a real a veal....so I said go for it.
                                Got penne with lots of good sizes pieces of veal, (almost stew like) in a light, delicious brown sauce. Other person said I like Chicken....So he said..i'll a make you a cacchatori..my daughter wanted the gnocchi..(entirely fresh & home made) with hamburg. It was to DIE for. For wine...hey $18.00...the chef ALFIE picked it..nice choice. We also split a brick oven pizza..large all fresh home made mozzarella and half sausage, again to Die For..... Large pizza...3 complete dinners...One Flan dessert (very good) 2 great bottles of wine (they would have been $30-40 in Providence) and 5 espressos.
                                Total..$127. with tax. Will I go back? Well they're closed Mon & Tues, so I think I'll be there Wednesday..it's that good...and I live 40 miles away on the EAST bay..... Would love to see him do a bit more business, but would hate like hell to have big crowds so you can't get in. It probably seats 5 at the bar... and maybe 40 in two separate rooms....

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: jg1945

                                  I recently discovered it and I must say it's amazing. I have no desire to ever return to Providence for Italian food with this place the next town over from me. Alfie is truly an artist and I hope he's able to stay in business. I went there for my third time this past Saturday, and my group was the only one there from 7:30 to 11. He said it was packed on Friday though which is a good sign. I implore any RI chowhounders who haven't been to San Vivaldo Trattoria to make the pilgrimage as soon as possible, you won't be disappointed.

                                  1. re: ajh05004

                                    We visited last week and I had high expectations based upon what I read here. I'm afraid that the restaurant did not impress me. I was prepared for the lack of menu and I explained the items that I really like to the chef because he asked me. I gave multiple choices in my response and got none of the food items that I mentioned. Instead, we were served a salad with a hard as a rock croquet and a tablespoon of tuna. The salad was dry and the croquet was clearly very old.
                                    The table across from us was given the wine that we wanted and they were given wine that they didn't want so we switched with them.
                                    My main was a chicken with tortellini dish that was very bland - definitely not exciting at all. Sadly, another table was offered eggplant ( I had mentioned this) another table was offered spaghetti with garlic ( I had mentioned this) and another table was offered eggplant ( which I love and had mentioned as well).
                                    Dessert was a small piece of chocolate cake that was not impressive. Total bill with tip was $100. I wouldn't mind paying this if I loved the meal but this place just did nothing for me.
                                    Although the concept seems fun, it just doesn't work, or at least it didn't the night that we were there.

                                    1. re: Emilyc

                                      For interesting Ialian, try Cafe Longo in Federal Hill and La Messeria in East Greenwich.

                                      1. re: Emilyc

                                        Emily it is not a concept but a passion of Alfie's and probably the only way he knows how to run his operation. I know, I love the guy and I have sold him a lot of wine in the past but sometimes he is his own worst enemy. It is a constant battle for the price of things including his labor . If he does get busy he is dead because how can you possibly provide front of the house service and be the chef at the same time! I forgot to mention I also have 30 yrs restaurant experience as well.

                                        1. re: Emilyc

                                          I was there the same night with my buddy and we got the same exact meal. I wasn't overly impressed with anything but the pork served with the pasta described above and the lemon cake dessert. If I go back I will be much more specific in what I want and don't want

                                    2. wonderful dinner tonight chef is a true character\\y wife wanted a sparkling wine
                                      so i requested prosseco and he cam up with a fine italian spumante $18
                                      started with mixed plates, (he likes there to be at least 3 components)
                                      we both got greens, tuna stew , baccala salad, brushcetta, frittata,
                                      all were very nice, and i'm not a tuna fan usually.

                                      mains - wife requested pasta and seafood and got an excellent frutti di mare/ spagetti
                                      i asked if he had anything braised, he offered a "italian beef stroganoff" and i was in
                                      very nice served with spinach fettucini a few olives. Lamb stew sounded good too maybe next time
                                      desert
                                      chocolate cake was gooy and moist very good
                                      creme caramel very solid rendition
                                      overall everything was very good and we'll be back but its a unique experience that
                                      could make some uncomfortable at first. My advice is just tell him what you like candidly or make it explicit if you want something specific, look at his online menu if you want hell make any of it anytime
                                      he had an assistant on Saturday night and thought i heard him mention starting to add a carry out pizza option too

                                      Bill
                                      18 wine
                                      15 2 Apps
                                      34 2 mains
                                      13 2 deserts
                                      86.50 w tax worth every cent and more

                                      we were first party there at 6 another couple at 630 another at 7
                                      Go to this gem

                                      1. I finally made it to San Vivaldo last Friday with my wife and another guest. We had a fantastic meal. We started by ordering a bottle of Malbec, then we were all brought the same appetizer (had 3 components...a stewed tuna of some variety, thinly sliced sopressata, and a bruschetta), 3 mains, shared a dessert, 3 espressos...total bill was $111. including a bottle of Malbec. We walked away VERY happy!

                                        My wife had a rolled, stuffed, veal dish which was really good. She requested something with greens and the meal came with some of the most delicious greens I've had! Garlicky, spicy, just delicious. I had a pork chop which was perfectly cooked and very tasty. It came with fried potatoes, and a rice dish. All excellent. The third main was pasta with chicken, served in a red sauce. Basic Italian cooking, but I have no idea how he got so much flavor into the chicken, but it was outstanding. I never order chicken at restaurants as it is nearly always bland, but this dish was fantastic. I'm glad she didn't eat it all (she asked for a small plate, but received a large one!) because I had it for lunch the next day!

                                        As stated before, the place isn't for everyone, but one thing is for certain, you will get a well prepared meal at a reasonable price. The chef is quite a character! And he's not exactly affable, but if you take him at face value, in all his quirkiness, you will have a great time! He's half the reason we enjoyed the place as much as we did....and he clearly has a passion for cooking!

                                        There was only one other table when we were there, which should have been prime time on a Friday night. It was just the chef and his helper (who was extremely nice and took very good care of us). I was actually surprised to hear he had been in that location for 10 years.

                                        Anyway, we had a very good meal (which he made memorable for both his delicious food and his quirkiness) at a very good price. That combination alone means we will be back as soon as possible. I'd recommend everyone try it at least once and if you like it...go back!

                                        -----
                                        San Vivaldo Trattoria
                                        570 Providence St, West Warwick, RI 02893

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: ezra9876

                                          Went again last night for a pre-Valentine's dinner. We were the only patrons there from 6 30-8 and Alfie wasn't expecting anyone else. He said it had been busy on Saturday night and he was in good spirits, very attentive and accommodating.
                                          Dinner was wonderful as always. Husband had a minestrone he loved and I an appetizer plate with a frittata, brushesta and greens. For entrees, husband had veal with mushroom sauce and I a heavenly pasta with vegetables (When I said 'no meat', Alfie said 'I know what you like', end of discussion). The portions were unusually large, with enough to take home. Lemon cake and chocolate cake for dessert. Dinner, with a bottle of Malbec was $80 before tip.
                                          Please go!!

                                          1. re: elle

                                            I need to get there pronto. I have been dying to try it after all these great reviews! And am i correct in understanding that the best way to do it is to forgo the menu and let him choose the dishes?