Monday, February 23, 2009

Mini Foodventure #106: Riva (Santa Monica)

When Caroline and I tried out some of the amazing drinks at Copa d'Oro, their eats menu haven't debuted yet. We weren't particularly feeling like take-out from Buddha's Belly next door (which is what the bartender recommended to other hungry boozers, even pulled out the to-go menu for them to scan), we decided to take a hike around the Promenade to see what foodventures we can get our drunken butts into. We first walked to FIG, but that was exactly one day before they opened so no dice there. So instead we hopped to Riva, the relatively new Santa Monica outpost from Jason Travi (of Fraiche fame) specializing in casual Italian fare (focus on crudo and pizza) with a contemporary touch.

Black Orchard Beer
Having relatively light appetites but crazy sweet tooth (OK, maybe just me for the latter), we decided to share one pizza and two desserts. But the drinks menu also had an interesting list of libations. Since we were pretty much cocktailed out, we both got a beer. Mine was the Black Orchard from the Bruery for $4, which was surprisingly light and easy-to-drink despite its dark color, but well-rounded out with hints of spice and considerable depth and character. It actually held up really well with the pizza we ordered . . .
Spinach-Gorgonzola Pizza
. . . the spinach and gorgonzola ($14). The toppings were simple (and no tomato sauce) but the ingredients melded beauitfully like a creamed spinach with a piquant sharp tang from the cheese and a subtle garlic-onion flavor. The crust was wonderful as well with its exterior thin crispiness quickly breaking into a soft, doughy and slightly sweet inside. More spongy than chewy compared to the other artisanal pizzerias, but that's a-OK with me.
Ricotta Fritters
My dessert of ricotta fritters ($9), served alongside citrus segments and a cream foam, was excellent. Fresh and crispy from the fryer, the ricotta lends a pleasant moistness and cheesecakey flavor to the fritters. If this is what New York Times meant by breakfast for desserts as a trend, I'm all for it!
Poached Pear with Crispy Crepes
Caroline ordered the torta della nonna ($10), with roasted pear slices atop layers of crisped mini-crepes with a side of caramel ice cream. The flavor combo of the three works and this dessert was good, but was lacking that little extra edge to make it memorable, but if you're craving a apple/pear tart-ish dessert a la mode, this is a decent one to try.

So there's my quick take on Riva. I enjoyed the few dishes on this foodventure and I look forward to trying more of their eats, drinks and service in the future (particularly around their daily happy hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m.). But along with Anisette and FIG, I'm really glad that there are so many more non-chain options encircling the Promenade now. This can only be a good thing for the savvy shopper and the finicky foodie like me.

What Do Others Say?
- TripleCreme forgot her camera, but loved the food, spotted celebs and "can't wait to return"
- J Gold of LA Weekly also credited Riva as a place that transformed eating options around the Promenade
- Caroline on Crack loved this place in spite of no whiskey cocktails
- LA Times' Ms. S. Irene gave it a solid two stars
- Gourmet Pigs thought it was "pretty good" with a few outstanding dishes

PS - apologies for the unappetizing blue hue (bar TV?) on the photos

312 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-7482

Riva on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

It's JASON Travi!

H. C. said...

Ha, fixed -- knew it's "Jason" but my fingers wanted to type "John" :)

I need coffee and copyediting skillz.

Chubbypanda said...

Ahahaha! But I wanted you to review Buddha's Belly!


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