Vivo Ristorante, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Well-known for being one of the few restaurants on the west end that serves high end (read: expensive), family-style food. Everything is meant to be shared and the menu reflects that. Be prepared, your jaw may drop when you see the prices. Just make sure you go with a large group as most of their entrees are meant to serve between two to four individuals.
We came on a Saturday evening and the place was packed. I was here for a buddy’s bachelor party so we had the private dining room all to ourselves. For large groups, a set menu is offered ($66.00/person) with an automatic gratuity of 20%. It includes two antipasti, two pasta, one secondi, two contorni and dolce. Pricey indeed but was it worth it? Read on pal, read on.
Bread, olive oil and olives – we started things off with some addictively soft bread. Yum. Perfect to dip with the olive oil, which had a nice zip to it.
Vine-ripened tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, balsamic reduction, basil and sweet pesto. The dish was beautifully presented with all types of colourful tomatoes (apparently, one bud has never seen yellow tomatoes before. Um, what???). The caprese salad was fresh and an excellent way to start our meal off.
Oven baked meatballs, crushed plum tomatoes, stewed mushrooms, cipollini onions and pacific rock. The meatballs were super tender. I don’t normally indulge in meatballs but these I would eat again.
Bufala mozzarella, parsley, butter, and parmigiano reggiano. Our waiter informed us that they melt four types of cheeses in this dish (and use no cream/butter/milk). The homemade pasta was cooked just right and the flavours were spot on (rich and creamy) without being overly excessive.
Toasted ricotta gnocchi, walnut butter, crispy sage, pecorino cheese and black pepper. The gnocchi was missing a certain je ne sais quoi about them. The texture/bite was okay but the flavour was flat and lacking any real conviction. I’d go with something else.
Family style mixed grill with beef, lamb, free range chicken and Italian sausage. The lamb chops were delicious minus the insane amount of fat on some of them. Incredibly tender, flavourful and cooked to a perfect medium rare, I made sure to snag one for myself. The Italian sausage was also top notch. The beef and chicken not so much. The chicken looked great but once you had a bite, it was dry and one dimensional.
Cavoletti di bruxelles
Roasted brussel sprouts, pancetta and spicy honey. Wow, the pancetta was greasy and fat. I think we got two pieces of just pure fat. I’m a big of vegetables but the brussel sprouts here were pretty average. They came with our meat platter which really added to the wow factor of the dish.
Panna cotta and gelato
The dessert was off the charts good. Three types of panna cotta, six types of gelato and toffee brittle. Wow, the gelato was incredibly light and refreshing. I can’t remember what all six gelato flavours were but the raspberry gelato one was incredible. Best way to end our meal.
Verdict? For the most part, the quality of the food is there but there were a few misses. However, the service is excellent and the pace of our dinner was perfect as we never felt rushed and ended up being the last group to leave the restaurant. For me, it’s definitely a “special occasion” place – I’d only come here with a large group to celebrate.
Note: According to multiple buddies, their grilled (you read that right) Caesar salad is a must try from their menu. Wish that was included on our set menu…
18352 Lessard Road