312 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
On October 28, Riva opened it's doors for the first time. Hours are 11:30 am to midnight, 7 days a week. However, the first two weeks will have a special schedule of 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm from Mon-Thur, and open til midnight on Fri-Sat.
Jason Travi's newest Italian restaurant features a decor that's a bit more upscale than that of his first child, Fraiche. On one side, there's a bar that seems a bit less approachable than the lively and welcoming bar at Fraiche; on the other, a pizza bar.
We stopped by a few days ago simply because of our love of Fraiche. We first got wind of Riva's impending opening 6 months ago during a conversation with Chef Travi. He was apparently having difficulty getting served at his bar one night, so he sat and talked to us for 45 minutes.
Upon seating, we decided on the following:
Geoduck, orange, watercress, mint, basil seeds
The raw geoduck slices were really tender and sweet, and the orange royales and basil seeds really worked well.
House made head cheese
Simply amazing with the fattiness cut by the radish slices.
Roasted quail, farrow, butternut squash, pistachio pesto
Tender roasted quail on farro...beautifully tender and flavorful.
Pignoli pizza made with pine nut, tomato, smoked pancetta and reggiano
Interesting pizza. Couldn't taste the pine nuts, but the pancetta was great.
Tradicionale pizza made with proscuitto, arugula, and pecorino romano
Best pizza of the night. The proscuitto and arugala were fantastic. Also noteworthy, the three pizzas we did have had inconsistency in the dough. The crust for this pizza was close to perfection, but the others were chewy.
Bianca pizza with spinach, ricotta and pecorino romano
House made ricotta with spinach. Slightly browned ricotta was delicious, but the spinach left something to be desired. The crust on this pizza was lacking...too chewy.
Considering there were only three of us, and none of us were hungry, I think we did a good job.
Riva did a good job too, I would say. New restaurant jitters and the need for some time to get things down were evident, but not glaring deficiencies. Service was decent and food just a tad under great. Like a fine wine from Chef Travi's list...a little time and it'll be great.