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Any fans of Rivoli, Berkeley?

Jaindevyani Oct 28, 2012 09:03 AM

Hello all,

I'm relatively new here - my first post - although I do follow restaurant recommendations for SF-East Bay from Chowhounders.

Anyways recently to celebrate my food-loving kid's 10th birthday, I took him to Rivoli's on Solano Ave. His first time and second time for me with a gap of over 10 years.

My kid loved the food and possibly due to the momentous occasion (his 10th!) thinks its the greatest restaurant ever. I thought it was good too, though I did think the wine list and savory courses were better than the dessert selection. Most of all, the service was impeccable and the food was very good value.

I wanted to know what other Chowhounders think of Rivoli - have you'll mostly had very good experiences there? I am asking because I 'm thinking of taking a bigger group there and also want to compare experiences.

Thanks for your responses!

P.S. I also want to share the glowing post my kid wrote about Rivoli on his kids food blog (project for school). Please check it out if you like at http://www.onthehop.net/2012/10/my-10...

  1. c
    chocolatetartguy Oct 29, 2012 04:31 PM

    I should go there more often, but it seems to have fallen off my restaurant radar. I always enjoyed it in the past. Where else can you watch raccoons and skunks if the garden behind the glass wall/doors?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chocolatetartguy
      sundeck sue Oct 29, 2012 05:22 PM

      pretty sure no more raccoons et. al.--no longer being fed, is what i heard--we don't go that often--but i haven't seen them of late.

      as for the food conversation: one and only one dessert to order: hot fudge sundae.

    2. d
      dunstable Oct 28, 2012 04:26 PM

      heh heh, he thought the gingerbread cake was "delicious even though [he] didn't care much for it"? That must have been REALLY delicious then!

      Yah, I like that place too. It's homey without sacrificing menu elegance. Best restaurant on Solano, in my opinion.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dunstable
        Jaindevyani Oct 28, 2012 04:52 PM

        Yes, sounds off. He's a major chocoholic. I don't think they had any chocolate cake-type desserts on the menu that day, save for bread pudding with chocolate sauce.

        Since the gingerbread was a compromise dessert we settled on, birthday boy was less enthusiastic about it:)

      2. j
        jaiko Oct 28, 2012 11:58 AM

        I've not been in several years, so take it for what it's worth. Some of my family love Rivoli so we went four times over 2 yrs. We found the starters fairly good, the entrees less successful with occasionally very odd, poorly balanced sauces. Desserts were technically well executed but too sweet for our tastes, especially the chocolate which was the dark sweet European style instead of American bittersweet.

        It's a half-level above the others on Solano, but honestly we prefer the fab wood-fired pizza and superb onion soup at Nizza la Bella, and the comfort food/amazing salads at Bistro 1491, both of which are less $$$ than Rivoli. At Rivoli's price range, we prefer Five @Hotel Shattuck, JMHO.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jaiko
          Robert Lauriston Oct 28, 2012 12:56 PM

          I think Rivoli has changed a fair amount in the last few years. As I said in the report from last year I linked to above, I'm pretty sure prices were lower than they were the year before, and the style of cooking was more Italian and less French.

          1. re: jaiko
            Jaindevyani Oct 28, 2012 05:12 PM

            Thanks for the tip on Nizza la Bella and Bistro 1491 - will try it out.

            We went to Five- Shattuck Hotel recently. Portions were generous. The mussels we had were fine - the mussel broth was salty for my taste and didn't have other interesting favors. I got grits as a side - they weren't as creamy and pearly as I'd expected. The butterscotch pudding was decent. Maybe I need to try other dishes there that are more their specialty. The service was distracted however and I felt there was room for improvement.

            1. re: Jaindevyani
              bbulkow Oct 29, 2012 09:19 AM

              Last year, I found Five to be uninspired. I've been going to Revival, one block over, since then. More my kind of place - inventive, highly changing menu.

              1. re: Jaindevyani
                Robert Lauriston Oct 29, 2012 10:23 AM

                The Great China blog says James Yu is working as GM and sommelier at Rivoli.

          2. h
            Helene Goldberg Oct 28, 2012 11:23 AM

            This is my favorite Berkeley restaurant. It is more pleasant and consistent than Chez Panisse. The service, ambiance and food just keep getting better. I've never had a bad meal and I can have a real conversation without having to shout over the noise.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Helene Goldberg
              Jaindevyani Oct 28, 2012 05:21 PM

              I'm glad to hear that. We'll definitely take out-of-town guests there.

            2. Robert Lauriston Oct 28, 2012 09:36 AM

              I've always had great meals there. Keep meaning to try the hot fudge sundae but I'm always too full.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Jaindevyani Oct 28, 2012 04:57 PM

                Thanks for pointing out the Rivoli thread.

                Maybe we' ll try the hot fudge sundae next time we go to Rivoli. I'm always on the lookout for good restaurants that also have incredible desserts. Not always easy...

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