Vivo Ristorante splashed onto Edmonton's dining scene but a few months ago and added much-needed culinary colour to Lessard, a neighbourhood long bereft of eating-out options. As an erstwhile north-sider I rarely travel to the far-flung frontiers of the south and west ends, but recently found myself whizzing along the Whitemud with Marlow Moo in search of Vivo. (Prior to this excursion, I had a conversation with Twyla about her experience at Vivo - you can read about her meal here...) The remnants of said conversation left me a bit leery, but I approached Vivo with an open mind.
We are greeted by a quasi-urbanesque room decked out in black and silver. A long open kitchen occupies one side of the dining room. A gratis basket of foccacia appears first and calms our pangs of hunger as we ponder the menu. Vivo serves things family style, which means that portions are large and one scoops their desired victuals off a larger plate.
Supper commences with a delightful Caprese salad of fresh tomatoes and creamy mozzarella. The tomatoes are reassuringly ripe and potent (given that we are mired in the depths of winter in a decidedly harsh climate) and the balsamic drizzle brings a smoky note that balances the tomatoes' sweetness. I only wish there had been more cheese. The cheese was a coveted commodity at our table and we found that there wasn't enough to satiate our desires.
Beef carpaccio arrives concurrently and presents paper-thin shavings of rare beef with a crown of finely shredded cheese and arugula. It is both delicate and rich, though the balsamic drizzle is a bit too similar to what adored the tomatoes. Perhaps a different drizzle is in order?
Main #1 is a sizable (they aren't kidding when they say "family style") bowl of pesto-caressed pasta ribbons topped with three chubby scallops. The pesto flavour is assertive enough to cover every possible noodle and works well with the mild essence of the scallops. Pine nuts add pleasant crunch. This is definitely my pick of the evening.
Main #2 presents spirals of rotini flecked with cannelini beans, wilted greens, and an artery-clogging snowcap of mascarpone and pink peppercorns. This is mac and cheese to the Nth degree! It's both piquant and earthy, but a few forkfuls are more than enough to make me cry "uncle." The generous leftovers will provide me with at least two meals over the coming days. We left Vivo feeling stuffed (and not in a bad way) and started the long journey back to the north side. I'm not sure when next my travels will find me on that side of the city, but chances are good that I'll nip into Vivo for another dose of pesto and scallops.