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Vivoli Cafe review

t
Tusc Jun 4, 2005 07:41 PM

Had a very good dinner at Vivoli last night. The strip mall location was an eyesore, but the food was close to -- but not quite -- top notch.

We started with spinach salads, they happily let us substitute balsamic vinagrette for the mustard based dressing, and the combination of spinach, goat cheese and beets worked well.

The penne with salmon was outstanding, a dish that I'd return again and again for. The spaghetti bolognese was pretty good, the scallops were fresh and tasty. The mushroom risoto was the only disappointment, made more so because our waiter recommended it. Pasta is the name of the game here and they do it right. I'd be leary about veering too off course from what they do well.

The waiter was hospitable, albeit a little strange, in the middle of taking our order I asked if I could get Pinot Noir by the glass and he stopped wriing and left for 5 minutes to check before coming back to tell us it was not available. He was nice enough though and agreed to open a non-by-the-glass Pinot, which was ok, but have had much better.

Overall Vivoli was pretty good, but I concur with past threads which question the 27 rating from Zagat. I would say it's in the 23-24 range for food, which is pretty good overall, basically they had a couple of dishes which were exquisite, but others which were good not great, and one which missed by a mile.

Would definitely return, but think I might bring my own bottle with me....

:)

  1. i
    Iceman Jun 5, 2005 11:04 PM

    Glad you liked it. I've had goos experiences there too, especially with the pasta.

    1. h
      Hondo773 Jun 8, 2005 08:29 PM

      I live close by, and have tried the place a few times. It's been very hit or miss for me- the pasta does seem to be their best shot, but they don’t do meat particularly well. My date on the last visit had ravioli with pesto sauce that she loved, while my veal cutlets were dry and quite overdone. If you’re going to be in that lovely strip mall at Sunset and Laurel, I’d recommend going to the Hunan Café, the funky little (grand)Mom and Pop Chinese place next door to Vivoli.

      1. g
        globalgourmet Jan 2, 2007 09:39 AM

        I love this place, but you're right; it doesn't deserve a 27 from Zagat--nor have I ever seen one. Currently, it's ranked a 25 for food and service, much less for ambience. Pastas are the main act here, you're right. But the Salmon encrusted in potato with pesto is also excellent. It's small and crowded but the staff is excellent and its price/performance is well above average. Great little neighborhood trattoria.

        1. o
          Obessed Jan 2, 2007 08:55 PM

          I love this place also and have been numerous times -- we actually had New Years eve dinner there this past weekend. They had a prix fixe for $48 per person and it was wonderful. For the 2nd time, I had linguine with lobster and it was just as outstanding as the first time I had it. It's not a regular item, but they often have it as a special. My BF had Osso Buco which was great too. The service is always so friendly and you can't beat the $10 corkage fee.

          1. k
            kevin Jan 2, 2007 11:30 PM

            is this the joint right across from the virgin megastore?

            1. blackbookali Jan 2, 2007 11:41 PM

              The lobster pink sauce is like crack. Corkage fee is great. It is a little cramped though - then again so is(was) La Buca and Angelini . . .

              1. o
                Obessed Jan 2, 2007 11:43 PM

                Yes

                1. v
                  VealParmGuy Jan 3, 2007 01:58 AM

                  Vivoli is one of those places I wish you could take OUT of Zagat (seperate thread on this perhaps?) so more people don't find out about it. I live around the corner and have been going consistently for the past year and a half. It was always empty when we first started going and now is always packed, and always full of regulars.

                  My favorites are the gnudi toscana and the linguini with shrimp, and when they have it a special of paparadelle with lamb ragu. A friend of mine orders the veal parm there so much, that before they knew his name that's what they called him (hence the origin of my chowhandle)

                  They are great to the regulars and frequently makee adjustments to what we are craving that night. Specifically they sometimes have as a special a dish of mussels and clams, which has now become a fixture of our orders.

                  A great neighborhood spot in stretch of sunset that doesn't have a lot of places like this.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: VealParmGuy
                    kelvlam Aug 3, 2007 08:54 AM

                    I can tell you that if not because of Zagat, and then Chowhound & Yelp, I wouldn't find this place. I'm going to try it out this weekend! I haven't found any good place around the NoHo area yet (yeah, I'm going to watch a theatre show at 8 afterward).

                  2. d
                    Dusty414 Oct 7, 2007 11:23 AM

                    My husband and I order delivery from Vivoli at least once a week...The food is fantastic!!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dusty414
                      o
                      odub Oct 7, 2007 12:54 PM

                      My wife and I just went the other weekend and it was a really nice, solid meal. I didn't sense it's the best Italian food you're going to find in L.A. but it's dependably good, which frankly, is as good a compliment as you can hope to give to most eateries. The only problem for us is that it's a pain to get to but that's not the restaurant's fault.

                      1. re: odub
                        b
                        Barbara Ladden Oct 7, 2007 09:41 PM

                        We went once for lunch and it was ok, not memorable. What was memorable were tables and chairs set up IN the handicap parking space outside the restaurant that Vivoli refused to move for a car with a handicap placard and license plates. Tried the Hunan Cafe twice, not worth a 3rd visit. Love the Gaucho Grill at the opposite end of the parking lot.

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