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Feb 13, 2012 08:32 AM

Trattoria San Vivaldo

After reading and hearing about this place for literally years, I finally had the pleasure of dining here Friday evening. Chef Alfie and George were welcoming and accommodating hosts. As we expected, no menus or wine list were offered. Chef simply told us what was available that evening.

Dining here was like eating at your Nonnie's house. We each had an antipasto plate that included a stuffed pepper, fritatta, bruschetta and lightly dressed mixed greens. Entrees included chicken braised with cabbage, currants and raisins, a variation of beef stroganoff, veal and peas and pasta puttanesca. Everything was delicious. With dessert, espressos, lots of wine and a good tip, total was about $60 per person, very reasonable.

With all the great reviews, we were surprised the place wasn't busier. Chef said the poor economy had taken a toll on the business. I hope those of you who've enjoyed this place in the past will pay it another visit and those of you who haven't tried it will give it a shot.

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  1. I'm glad that you enjoyed it as much as I did. As long as you go in with a good attitude, Chef will take great care of you.

    I haven't been to RI for several months but hope to get there again soon.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Shann

      Went again Friday night. We were the only customers, other than one pizza to go. Don't know how he stays in business and worry he won't for long. The attention to detail, overall experience and food-homemade mozzarella and homemade orangecello were standouts-were amazing as always.

      1. re: elle

        Thanks for posting Elle. Wish more hounders would help keep this place in business. It really is like eating at your Nonnie's house.

    2. We went last night with friends. We hadn't been in a couple of years. We brought a couple with us for their first visit. We were the only table early on Saturday evening. Chef mentioned the struggles with the economy. He had a helper, George, working with him. Chef and George had a friendly and entertaining back and forth conversations throughout the evening. The food was wonderful. We each had an appetizer with a salad, bruschetta, stuffed zucchini and a piece of frittata. It was a wonderful way to start off the evening. As expected, there was no menu. Chef had a conversation with us about what he had in the kitchen and how he could prepare it. I couldn't decide between two of the entree options so I had one, beef spare ribs (melt in your mouth, fall off the bone and delicious), and he gave me a small plate of the bolognese over ravioli as a side plate so I didn't have to choose. My husband couldn't decide between chicken and veal so chef gave him some of each in the entree he had. Our dining companions both had pasta dishes. Everyone was incredibly happy with the food. For dessert, chef brought out four different desserts, all housemade, for us to share. The lemon cake was my favorite. There was also a warm and delicious fruit tart and a cannoli. I can't remember the fourth dessert. As we were wrapping up our entrees, another couple came in, obviously for the first time. They had looks of surprise and amusement on their faces. As we left around 8, the place was picking up a little. It looked like Chef and George were making room for a party of ~8 people. Chef had a bunch of vegetables and herbs growing outside the restaurant. He told us about his greenhouse at home where he grows herbs for use in his cooking year round. It looks like he is adding on a small space, maybe pushing out the bar. I couldn't tell, as the work was in the early stages. I really need to not stay away from this place for as long as I have. The food is amazing and the place and experience so unique and dare I say, entertaining. Hounds, please visit and please bring your friends. It would be a huge loss for a place like this to not stick around.

      Total bill was around $170(before tip). This was for four appetizers, four entrees, my little side of pasta, a bottle of wine, bottle of sparkling water, one mixed drink, two coffee, one espresso and four desserts. This is just over $40 a person. A bargain for the amazing quality of food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bluebird

        It might help if one of you who are so enthusiastic told us where this place is ... The only hint is one poster who mentions RI.
        A general rule: put location info in your subject line. This board covers a large area.

        1. re: linguist

          570 Providence Street West Warwick, RI 02893
          (401) 828-8100

      2. has anyone been recently? i noticed in december that he had changed the name of the restaurant and seemed to be leaning more toward grilled pizzas. any current reports? thanks.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wormwood

          We go about once a month. The food is as wonderful as ever. Alfie seems to have mellowed a bit. He is promoting his pizza which is NOT grilled but is amazing and available for takeout, but the full meals are still his focus. The new name is the street of his childhood home in Italy. The restaurant now goes by both names.

          1. re: elle

            thanks for the update. we went last night and it was great as always. we were the only diners in there for our entire meal : /

            hope he does a brisk weekend business, i can never figure out how he stays open but i'd hate to see him close.

            1. re: wormwood

              I have the same worry! Glad you went and enjoyed.

        2. We will be visiting Newport next week traveling from New Jersey. This place sounds wonderful! I just have no idea if it is any where near Newport or Fairhaven Mass. where we will be visiting. Can someone please point me in the right direction!
          Much thanks!

          14 Replies
          1. re: EL7

            West Warwick is about 40 minutes from Newport. Tasting Alfie's food is worth it in my opinion.

            1. re: ajh05004

              Thank you Ajh. We are also visiting Fairhaven Mass and the Wrentham outlets are any of those any closer to West Warkwick and any suggestions for those locations? Since we are just wandering I will take your advice and go to Trattoria San Vivaldo it just sounds soooo good and our goal is good eating as well as relaxing. Much appreciated!

              1. re: EL7

                Both of those are a bit further from West Warwick. Fairhaven and Wrentham are about 30-35 minutes from both Providence and Bristol. In Bristol I can recommend Persimmon, in Providence Gracie's and Chez Pascal. These are three of the best restaurants in Rhode Island. Wrentham is also only about 40 minutes from Boston, if you're willing to travel there that would present a number of other opportunities.


                1. re: ajh05004

                  Ajh thank you so much! These restaurants sound wonderful! We have decided to add another day to our trip! We are really looking forward to all I have read about and I am so grateful for your wonderful help. We are going to to Providence, Newport, Wrentham outlets and Fairhaven Mass. As well as gaining a few pounds along the way! WaterFire is on our to do list and we really look forward to all of this with a lot more enthusiasm when I first started the research. Thank you for your insight.
                  Any other suggestions would be most appreciated!

                  1. re: EL7

                    Well, what kind of food/atmosphere do you like? There's a ton of good eating between newport and providence.

                    1. re: RhodyRedHen

                      We love Italian, Chinese, Spanish pretty much ethnic foods but not Indian or Sushi. We will do an occasional fancy place but not high on our list. We just really like good food especially if it is by a sea coast. We like to find what is regional most of all. We are really looking forward to this trip and really appreciate your help.

                      1. re: EL7

                        For Mexican that's a little bit different, Perro Salado in Newport might be worth taking a look at. It's really solid American-style Mexican, but in an old Newport colonial-style house. Very fun atmosphere. And the margaritas are good, if you appreciate that sort of thing ;)
                        Also in Newport, Mama Luisa's is good Italian.
                        If you like Spanish, definitely check out Flan y Ajo in downtown Providence. It is some of the best food in the city IMO. Authentic Spanish tapas, very limited seating (four bar stools, several window seats, several tables on sidewalk), byob with an excellent wine shop next door. Flan is unique, an amazing value, and incredibly good. They also have a wine bar right around the corner with delish authentic Spanish bar snacks and cheeses--Bodega Malasena.
                        For more Latin flavors, check out the menu at Los Andes, also in Providence.
                        I love all three of AJH's recommendations to you above (Gacies, Persimmon, Chez Pascal) but be aware that these are all very upscale (though not necessarily dressy) high-end places. they are each definitely deserving of a splurge, and you get what you pay for. I'd put all three in the category of "new american" farm-to-table cuisine with an emphasis on local products.
                        There is an ongoing thread near the top of this board regarding ethnic restaurants in Warwick, RI--the conversation encompasses recommendations around the state, however. You may find some interesting RI recs there.

                        1. re: RhodyRedHen

                          Rhody RedHen,
                          Wonderful! Printing out lists right now to discuss with hubby and make lists of places to go! Farm to table, and "deserving of a splurge" ESPECIALLY get what you pay for work for us! This is vacation not an every day meal and we think good food makes the vacation all the more memorable. We don't care about atmosphere we really care about the food. However, a beautiful nature scene can make any food all the better especially if it is a seacoast. Really appreciate everyone's help thank you so much!

                          1. re: EL7

                            My pleasure, EL7!
                            Well if you want a seaside experience, Persimmon is especially nice, since it's located in the scenic and historic seaport of Bristol, RI. Bristol is about midway between Newport and Providence (closer to providence.) You might also check out the Matunuck Oyster Bar--you can't get a nicer seaside atmosphere and it's a really good meal too. Quality New England seafood right by the water. I think it's technically in Wakefield, RI, not too far from Newport. Just so you know, I adore Providence and it's quite historic and nice in many areas, but it doesn't have much water frontage and the vibe is more New England urban than seaside charm. Waterfire is really special, though, and I'd recommend Gracie's in particular if you want to splurge and make it an extra special evening. Also, make sure you call for reservations at most of these places well in advance, especially Persimmon or Gracie's. Flan y Ajo does walk-in seating only. Happy planning!

                            1. re: RhodyRedHen

                              WOW! Perfect! I am just taking a break from trying to figure out where to go and you Rhody filled in the missing pieces! Especially needing reservations! Ok have phone calls to make! We will be going to Waterfire Mantuuck Oyster Bar, Persimmon, Gracies, I have Chef Alfie's restaurant name in the kitchen list... I need to get more organized! So many great places and not enough days... oh and the Whaling Museum ... geez.. I hope I have time for shopping!!! Much thanks!

                              1. re: EL7

                                Matunuck, Chez Pascal, Gracie's, Persimmon, and Trattoria San Vivaldo are probably my five favorite restaurants in the state. I'll usually hit at least one when I'm home a the weekend visiting family. Stick to these and you will eat extremely well. As mentioned above they're not exactly cheap (San Vivaldo actually is a great value for what Alfie cooks up), but as you mentioned you're on vacation so you might as well enjoy.

                                1. re: ajh05004

                                  i think our last bill at san vivaldo came to $71 before tax/tip

                                  that was two generously sized entrees, two appetizers, and a bottle of wine. pretty outstanding value in my book.

                    2. re: EL7

                      Where are you going in Newport? Be sure to see The Breakers. If you tour only one of the beautiful summer mansions, this is the one. I also like Marble House, but theya re all interesting.

                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                        Looking forward to seeing the Breakers CapeCodGuy thanks for the insight once again! I can't wait really getting excited about being there!

            2. Manutuck lovely! Had oyster sampler and scallops what a lovely day Just the view i dreamed of so happy!
              Also Went to Wurst kitchen for lunch pork belly pastrami an hot dog delish! Then discovered Wayland bakery near Prvidence fantastic desserts and very reasonable prices. Good thing we live so far away! Also went to two non Chowhound recommends ...Thames st. dumb me.. We were tired and hungry. Tonight Persimmons with loving thanks to you.

              6 Replies
              1. re: EL7

                Glad you're enjoying! Are you having the tasting menu at Persimmon or ordering a la carte?

                1. re: ajh05004

                  Thanks Ajh! Which do you suggest? On our way to Margaret's for brunch

                  1. re: EL7

                    If you don't mind spending the money I would recommend the seven course tasting with the wine pairing. I've ordered a la carte there as well and it's been fantastic, but the tasting really lets you experience most of what he has on the menu that night and their wine program is top notch as well.

                    1. re: ajh05004

                      Just left Persimmon! There are no words. Had the tasting menu Ajh! My hubby and I were speechless. We are moving to your house AJh! Otferwise it will be too hard to drive here on a regular basis!
                      This was truly a perfect event and worth ever penny.

                      1. re: EL7

                        Haha, very glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately I live in Miami now so I don't get home as much as I'd like, but I'll see if my parents are willing to rent out my old bedroom.

                        1. re: EL7

                          Thanks for the updates, EL7! So glad to hear you're having a good visit. Sounds like you've hit a lot of the very best food the area has to offer. The Wurst Kitchen was a great find too!
                          It's too bad you didn't enjoy Thames Street (Thames Street Kitchen?)--I'm surprised, as we've had some really nice meals there, but the options are so limited I can easily imagine it being an issue on the wrong night. Hope the rest of your vacation is a blast and enjoy this nice weather!