Vivoli Cafe review
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....
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 dont 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 youre going to be in that lovely strip mall at Sunset and Laurel, Id recommend going to the Hunan Café, the funky little (grand)Mom and Pop Chinese place next door to Vivoli.
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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.
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.