Our next date lunch Wednesday was at Riva- Jason Travi’s new venture in Santa Monica. (I am not counting Marty’s on Pico as I don’t consider 30 minutes gulping down burgers on a plastic park bench with the pigeons as date lunch fare.)
Wednesday at Riva is a pleasure. The Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market is one of the best in Los Angeles. Susan Miller, the GM, explained that Jason shows up with a wheelbarrow of “goodies” every Wednesday with the “best” from the market.
The room is casual with an open kitchen.
Manny, our server, was wonderful. I didn’t see crudo 3 ways on the lunch menu and asked was it possible if the kitchen could do it? Minutes later, he returned beaming. Yes, not only could they do it, but the fish had just come from the farmer’s market and they were indeed fresh as fresh.
A word about the service – this is a casual restaurant, but the service is exceptional. Not only was Manny attentive and perfect, but everyone from the hostess on the phone to Susan Miller, the GM couldn’t have been more accommodating. We are not regulars; in fact this was our first time at Riva. When my husband made the reservation, the hostess thoughtfully mentioned that there is no valet parking at lunch. The first batch of rolls were served cold and my husband asked if they could be served warm. No problem. In fact that seems to be their modus operandi – no problem.
Crudo 3 ways
salmon trout with dill, seabass with red peppercorns and olive oil and tuna with capers and tonnato sauce
Wood-fired Molto Maiale Pizza – sausage, bacon, meatballs, pancetta, caramelized onions – absolutely delicious and a carnivore’s dream
Chicken Panini with bacon, avocado, gruyere – we asked to split this and the kitchen was nice enough to split it in the kitchen. Normally, I nibble at the greens, but they were definitely Farmer’s Market fresh and worth every bite. The panini was equally tasty and comforting food at its best.
Tiramisu – mascarpone zabaglione, expresso soaked ladyfingers – this was the only miss. For some reason the zabaglione was tasteless, the meringue “fingers” flat. To the restaurant’s credit, this was taken off the bill and substituted with:
I am not exactly sure what this was, but there was a citrus granite plus fresh fruit and berries – my husband ate every bite.
Riva is definitely a keeper and we will return for dinner. The service, the food, the seasonality and freshness of the ingredients all make for a wonderful dining experience.