Thursday, August 13, 2009

Italian magic at Riva

It is not often I use the word magic, when it comes to cooking. This word is left to those extraordinary culinary experiences, when a wizzard has waived his magic wand and created food that blows your mind. One of the few places where the kitchen is occupied by a wizzard is at Riva in Scituate. It may be hard to get to, if you rely on public transportation, but I am lucky to stay in Scituate once a year. I will be begging to return there for another helping in September 2009.

Location: BBB+

Riva is located in a quiet back street in scenic Scituate.

The low score is due to the fact that Scituate is hard to get to, as long as you do not have a car available. Scituate is located 30-40 minutes by car south of Boston. Until recently the only public transportation available were buses driving to and from Boston during peak hours. Now you may take the new suburban rail line to Greenbush, but you are still a 3o minute walk to Scenic Scituate.

Scituate is the home of the oldest building in the US - see story here

Service: BBBBB

The service at Riva is terrific. Nice staff that socialize with you and makes you feel comfortable. We did not have to wait unnecessarily for our food, but again - I would certainly have been willing to wait patiently for the food at Riva.

Interior & Atmosphere: BBBB+

There is a proper dining area at Riva but we decided to enjoy the informality offered in the bar. A traditional dark wooden interior with tall chairs and tables. Comfortable seating with a nice distance to the neighboring tables. As tables go, we were served from scratch - no fancy napkins, cutlery or glasses. They were brought to you when served.

The Food: BBBBB

I always find eating large late evening meals overpowering. I recommended that we (my cousin and I) should choose three appetizers, all priced between $8-10. A terrific idea as we were served three very different, exquisitely prepared dishes.

Appetizer 1: Figs with prosciutto: BBBBB

Deliriously good!! A classic combination. Well presented, and perfectly balanced - the salt ham and the intense light bitter sweetness of figs are absolutely great. Served with salad and balsamic vinaigrette.

Appetizer 2: Mini suppli al telefono or; rice balls stuffed with fresh mozzarella, deep fried and served with marinara: BBBBB

It cannot get any better than this - awesome as American would say!! Rice balls, covered in crispy bread crumbs and with a centre made out of melting white mozzarella and with a perfectly balanced tomato sauce on the side.

You just want to break it open and see all the goodness inside - and I did (photo above). I get that sinking hunger again when I take a second look at the photo.

Appetizer 3: Fried Calamari with garlic butter sauce, pepperoncini and sun-dried tomato aioli: BBBBB

Few dishes separates good and bad chefs than calamaris. I have tasted soggy rings over rubbery over cooked meat on one hand, and those cooked to perfection - as at Riva's. Dry, crispy batter, not too greasy, and mouthwateringly tender.

Served with two spicy dipping sauces, I would say that the culinary wizzard produced three close-to-perfect dishes to unbeatable prices.

Wine - Pinot Nero Alto Adige Colterenzio 2007 ($34) : BBBBB-

Riva has an impressive selection of Italian white, red, and sparkling wines ranging from $6-9 per glass, or $24-90 for a bottle.

The Pinot Nero Alta Adige Colterenzio is made from 100% pinot noir. It originates from the South Tyrol area in northern Italy by the city of Bolzano.

The Pinot Nero was a great wine with a flowery character, smooth as silk perfect for a night out.

Rating the Riva experience: BBBB+ (4,44 points)

Very high standard on food (4,86 points), but the moderate score is primarily due to low accessibility, as you will need a car to visit Scituate. The food at Riva is probably one of the best experiences of the last year. I will look forward to another visit.


Riva Restaurant
116 Front Street,
Scituate, MA 02066
Phone: +1-781-545-5881


See Riva on Facebook

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