Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Mixed "baby" greens with sherry shallot vinaigrette, crostini with goat cheese and fig jam;
carrot and green garlic risotto cake stuffed with mozzarella with spring vegetable ragout

Rivoli Restaurant, 1539 Solano Ave., Berkeley; tel. 510.526.2542


Rivoli's maintained its high reputation among Berkeley restaurants since it opened in 1996, but after eating there shortly after that opening we hadn't been back until tonight — partly because there are other places we're loyal to in Berkeley, partly because we found Rivoli incredibly noisy the night of that first visit, and continued to hear similar complaints from others.

Tonight, though, we ate early, with a friend, and were able to converse easily. My salad featured young chard leaves among the lettuces, and the vinaigrette was very nice. There were six main courses, but one included shrimp which I can't eat, the braised beef seemed too heavy for the weather, and the Moroccan plate (lamb, duck, Merguez) also seemed a little rich. The salmon turned out to be farmed in Scotland (though, we were told, in an ecologically permissible way, somehow).

So I opted for this crisp risotto, nicely molded around a heart of creamy bufala mozzarella and garnished with salsa verde and a tasty ragout of asparagus, artichoke, and peas — a combination I particularly like. Only the tiny beet-leaf sprouts seemed irrelevant: but you have to concede to prevailing fashion from time to time.

Le Rose, Nerello Mascalese, Regaleali, 2006

1 comment:

George Mattingly said...

A block from our house and we haven't been back in years — for the same reason: it was too noisy to talk the last time we were there. If jet engine backwash level din is appropriate for hot trendy 20-something spots (which I also doubt) it's certainly not okay for small intimate romantic rooms restaurants like Rivoli. Very happy to hear they've chosen to lower the volume. BTW we ate recently with our favorite aunt & uncle (now in their 90s) at Lalime's, where the food, always dependable & interesting, has undergone a serious upgrade. Our dinners were all truly memorable. Noise level alas was at the upper limit for conversation. Do they really think they're going to attract the cocaine generation simply by amping up the noise level? We'll go back, but not with friends over 50.