Vivoli Cafe and Trattoria
7994 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
10.12.06 - Thursday, 8:00 PM
Myself + 1 guest (My old pay Piz)
Sometimes dinner isn't just dinner.
I had a dear, freaking close as can be friend to reconcile with. It'd been almost a year since our last face-to-face, and for mysterious reasons, we had drifted. I'm of the opinion that pasta can change the world, so Italian was on the menu for a re-bond. Beloved Chowhound peeps have often given warm raves to Vivoli, so the date was inked.
Vivoli is in a strip mall across from the Virgin Megastore on Sunset. She's pretty nondescript, and oh so very cozy. I waltzed in a bit early - immediate impressions:
"Wow, this place is small. This place is busy. It smells goddamn good."
Our table was ready (yay) but had to be jostled from the back edge so I had room to squeeze past the other nearby tables. I say nearby like it's a small thing. We're talking the length of a matchbook here. It's a good thing I showered.
The menu is quite lengthy and loaded with Italian standards and interesting combos. I wanted to try the Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Browned Butter and Sage - but alas, no, they had none. Boo. The recommended second choice delivered - details below.
Service - well, hmmm. That's a mixed bag. Landsakes the men in here are lovely, truly Italian, and nice as can be. I adored the service - when we actually had it. Very slow, unfortunately, but I'm so forgiving because A) Piz and I had much to discuss and B) did I mention how bloody nice they are? Seriously.
Vivoli really is the neighborhood pasta place that transports you to Italy. All the dishes tasted fresh, grandma-style delish. I would definitely go again, just never when I was in a hurry.
Now, on to le details:
Prosecco, by the glass - house. GOOD stuff.
Crusty, a wee overcooked, but well seasoned and served with olive oil.
-- Thinly sliced eggplant slathered in tomato sauce and mozzarella. Baked up and served a tad too cold, but really flavorful. Outstanding tomato sauce - crazy fresh, with notes of herbs and spices. The consistency of the eggplant was off the hook too - not too tough, melty and delicious.
Mine (Pictured above)
- Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Marinara and Parmesan
Ohhhh - velvety delicious. Ravioli can be quite bland, but these pillowy creatures had a gorgeous spice, thanks to that divine tomato sauce. This is what comfort food is all about.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
-- Also magnificent. Hints of olive oil danced with the woodsy, exotic mushroom flavors, and the risotto was cooked to complete perfection.
These boys can cook Italian. Heck yes.
Blueberry Tart, with Chocolate and Caramel Sauce
-- This little honey took eons to finally arrive, but surprisingly, she was worth the wait. Very delicate, not too sweet, and loaded with juicy blueberries. The tart had a strong citrus twang and the texture gave me goose bumps. Me likee.
Damage for 2 glasses of Prosecco, 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert about $80, before tip.
RESTAURANT REPORT CARD - Vivoli Cafe and Trattoria, Visit 1
Ambiance - B
Service - C+
Food (Taste) - B
Food (Presentation) - C+
Wine/Drinks - B- (Nice Italians and Californians)
Value - B
Vibe/Energy/Scene - B
Overall Experience - B
Final word - despite flaws, I'm a fan. Down home Italian gems in an authentic and lovely environment.
Visit me. I don't (often) bite.