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And that's good. It was and is handsome space. Bi-level seating adds excitement. There's an eagle's nest on high in the rear where you can get a bird's-eye view of the entire restaurant. And you can peer out....
By Carol Brock
194-01 Northern Blvd.
"The new Vivo," they say. Walk in and it looks pretty much the same.
And that's good. It was and is handsome space. Bi-level seating adds excitement. There's an eagle's nest on high in the rear where you can get a bird's-eye view of the entire restaurant. And you can peer out of second-story panes around the perimeter. Watching the twirling of dark-bladed fans against a dark ceiling is mesmerizing.
On the premier level, an antique bar is decked out with votive candles fore and aft. There's a pleasing glow everywhere. Burgundy cloths with ultra crisp white linen and precisely cut paper tops adds richness. I don't remember burgundy drapes that give a peek-a-boo view of Northern. They must be new. All and all, it's most attractive and sophisticated.
What's new in the new Vivo? The management, Nanny and Chris. And Chef George who presided in Manhattan kitchens after chefing at Vivo (1994 opening to '97). Chris is a pharmacist by day, which is actually a plus for the restaurant business. "This is another customer- oriented business," he said. And I must say, all who ascended to the eagle's nest to serve us were as nice as they make 'em - "endearing," you might say.
Two large, juicy bruchetta were set before us as we intently listened to the specials of the day. Antipasto alla Vivo (for two) was recommended and we went with that. "It's a combo of hot and cold appetizers," the server told us, which sounded intriguing.
Bocconcini di mozzarella was hot: mozzarella and roasted red peppers wrapped with prosciutto and pesto sauce. One for each. This new creation of Chef George is sensational. The roasted peppers also were terrific and I could get my fill.
Fried calamari with sauce on the side was well done. Ditto the portobellos, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and grilled veggies and fingers of Parmesan cheese and ripe olives. This is great for three or possibly four, but I would go for a full-size serving of bocconcini carpaccio al caprina or even the mussels or grilled portobello for two.
Grilled shell steak sounded intriguing with its mushroom and onion topping stepped up with vinegar. The shell steak was a good size, and since I relish a bit of gristle, it was great for me. The vinegar added pizzazz, but I wished that George would have had a lighter hand with the oil in sauteing them. Broccoli, carrot sticks and cubed potatoes completed the array. Incidentally, the dinner rolls were soft ones.
I must say the four chicken entrees sounded excellent: al grillia served with grilled eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms; facito with mozzarella, prosciutto in light mushrooms sauce; limone sauteed in a light lemon sauce with capers and fresh tomatoes over spinach and remy with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms in a light cognac cream sauce. The four vitello (alla florio, cardinalle, di arma and foreasta) sounded equally luscious.
And now the dessert. Bongo bongo is still on the menu - cream puffs filled with ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce. A chocolate mousse topped with orange mousse was her choice - a new George creation - and very fine. I chose tiramisu, a large moist square eminently suitable for sharing, in fact a bit overwhelming for one who had indulged in a hearty antipasto and entree. (Hooray for the day when it's fashionable to doggy bag desserts.) For me, a concluding espresso was a must. Dinner music plays in the background. The new Vivo is four months old. It retains the charm of the old. It has new owners, a "new" chef (George , the original) and a fine wait staff. For summer, outdoor dining is contemplated. - that's also new.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The new Vivo - new management, new chef (actually, the original chef from 1994 to '97). Fine Italian cuisine in the same sophisticated bi-level setting. Candles aglow all around. Excellent service.
Antipasto Alla Vivo, for two (combo of hot and cold antipasto: fried calamari, portobello mushrooms, bocconcini, roasted peppers, baked clams, fresh mozzarella & tomatoes, grilled vegetables, Parmesan cheese, olives)...$19.95
Capaccio alla Caprina (thin sliced raw fillet mignon over arugula with capers, Parmesan cheese, with a touch of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice)...$10.50
Pollo Limone (breast of chicken, sauteed in light lemon sauce with capers, fresh tomatoes over spinach)...$16.95
Black Linguine Pescatore (with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, calamari in butter wine sauce)...$24.95
Bongo Bongo (cream puffs filled with ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce)...$5
Setting: Sophisticated bi-level
Hours: L & D 7 days
Location: NE corner of 194th Street
Parking: Valet, Sat. and Sun.
Credit Cards: All major
Private parties: To 100. Crow's nest: 40
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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