Vivo! Italian Restaurant is best on the basics [closed]

by | December 9, 2008 | 12 Comments

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Vivo! Italian Restaurant is located at 12305 N. Rockwell Avenue in Oklahoma City (map). They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 9pm and Sunday from 11am to 8pm. You can reach them by phone at 405.603.4456.

PLEASE NOTE: Vivo! Italian Restaurant is no longer in business.

I don’t know about everybody else, but to me it seems like the Italian boom hit Oklahoma City in the mid-’90s when Olive Garden came to town. We can all take our potshots at the Garden — it’s not real Italian food, the prices are outrageous, etc. — but let’s give credit where credit is due. If it weren’t for those breadsticks, there are quite a few Oklahomans who wouldn’t know manicotti from terra cotta.

Plus, if it weren’t for mass market Italian food, would there have been such a backlash from people who wanted authentic Italian?

I’m not going to call Vivo! Italian Restaurant authentic, but I will call it pretty good. They serve the staple dishes and a few that seem a little weird, but overall, I liked it.

Unfortunately, I gave it one demerit right out of the gate. The bread, baked fresh daily, was bland and kind of doughy. I might have gotten an off loaf, but I wasn’t that impressed. It is served with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, which adds flavor, but I was kind of hoping for a crustier loaf with a little taste.

That said, our appetizer, the Potato Pancetta con Pesto soup, was delightful. At $2.99, it’s a great starter. My wife said she loved the creamy soup and the tender potato pieces. I was impressed by the pesto, which added an entirely new dimension. It might not have worked for me without the pesto, honestly, but that addition made the soup for me.

The salads were a little less exciting. If you get one, I recommend the homemade Italian dressing. It really pops with tangy spices and is thick enough to hold to the lettuce. The Caesar dressing didn’t do as much for me, even though it’s also homemade. I guess I wanted it to be a bit less watery.

The main course is where it’s at for most people and I was not disappointed. The Classico Lasagna ($10.49) is a tower of meat and pasta. Lasagna can be bland, but this had great flavor and came together perfectly. If the test of a good restaurant lasagna is one that’s better than you make at home, then this passed the test with flying colors.

My wife loved the Cannelloni ($9.99) which is stuffed with chicken, spinach and white onions and smothered in alfredo sauce. It was definitely heavier than the lasagna, but in a good way. This is the kind of meal you want to eat if you don’t mind heading home afterward and taking a short nap. It was creamy and delicious.

If I had tried the Cannelloni or the Lasagna first, I might not have enjoyed the Artichoke Chicken Pasta ($9.99) as much. That’s because, compared to the other two, it’s a lot lighter on taste. Basically, it’s penne pasta, chicken and spinach artichoke dip with diced tomatoes on top. It has a fresh taste to it and a crunch added by water chestnuts. By itself, it’s a pretty nice dish. In comparison, it pales a bit.

But there was nothing pale about the Creme Brule ($4.99). My wife and I, already full from our dinner, could not resist the lure of this dessert. It might be too good, because we couldn’t stop eating it. The garnish of raspberry sauce and whipped cream on the side were unnecessary, though it looked nice. The dessert by itself was excellent.

Vivo! is not a revelation of authentic cuisine, nor is it a bold step in a new direction. What they do best, however, is provide excellent service, tasty Italian staples and a few off-the-wall variations. I’ll be going back again, no doubt, with an eye toward trying some of their other dishes. I do not think I’ll be disappointed.

Please let us know what you think in the comments.

Vivo Italian on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Greg Elwell on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008. It is filed under:

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  • Mark says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 10:12 am   

    This one will have to go on my to try list. Good Italian is hard to find in OKC.

  • dianne says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 11:44 am   

    We are huge Vivo fans and have that terrible habit of getting the same thing over and over and over! I mean, if it works, why fix it right?! My husband gets the mannicoti, I get the canelloni and we share the creme brule and always leave very satisfied! I do agree on the bread, it could be better! Maybe a nice crusty wheat bread would be in order! Anyway, we will continue to visit Vivo for all our Italian needs…well, manicotti and canelloni!!

  • Bizzle says:
    December 10th, 2008 at 2:08 pm   

    I haven’t tried this place yet, but I hear from friends over at the Ok Heart Hospital that the pizza is pretty good. I used to live right around the corner from this place, but since I moved South Side it is getting harder and harder to get this far north just for dinner. Perhaps I can remember this place after a hard days worth of Xmas shopping. Will report back. I am anxious to get my hands on some good creme brulee…

  • Kevin says:
    December 12th, 2008 at 9:39 am   

    An Italian establishment with marginal bread?
    Chi permetterebbe il pane marginale? Il buono pane è a un pasto italiano come un abbraccio della madre è a un bambino. È dove l’amore è mostrato.

  • Andrew says:
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:25 pm   

    Kevin, I hear you. I can’t imagine an Italian meal without good bread. However, $4.99 Creme Brule that doesn’t taste like plastic?? Very un-Italian though. I must try this.

  • Beth D. says:
    December 15th, 2008 at 11:12 pm   

    Creme Brule within 1.4 miles of my house??? Must make a stop soon!

  • Aimee says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 3:40 pm   

    Try the pizza! We have gotten it and loved it! Not a fancy place but a great place for a great meal!!

  • Sue Ellen says:
    January 4th, 2009 at 8:19 pm   

    This is by far the best place for a quite, nice, Italian place. I’m so sick of those chains around here that serve what every other Italian place has. I recommend this place 100%. The food was awesome, (try the salmon salad),and the service was even better! The bread tasted fine to me. And in my opinion, $4.99 is a pretty good price for their delicious creme brule. They make all of their food and the atmosphere is awesome!

    Oh, and wine goes great with every meal ;)

  • Richard says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 12:42 am   

    We went their sat. night and they were under staffed (as the only wait staff stated also stated we are never this busy) which was a drag.slow service not high on my list,but as for the food Tim is spot on, the bread is a bit weird but still the stuffed mushrooms ok the calamari was cooked great little bland for me,I really liked the lasagna and the sauce,my wife got the artichoke and spinach chicken vary rich it was ok I was going for the desert but after 10 mins I gave over all ,slow….. service I will give it to a off night food temp was perfect Kudos’ to a good cook I try it again.I liked much better than the chains but 2.5 hrs bit long from sit down to leaving also had a quit a few small kids nice for families. we try it later closer to closing next time

  • RRB says:
    February 6th, 2009 at 4:34 pm   

    This review is spot on. I’ve been there 3 times now and most recently I tried the stuffed mushrooms for the appetizer…delicious.

  • Susan says:
    July 21st, 2009 at 7:56 pm   

    i just tried this neat little Italian place a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It’s a very small, attractive restaurant. For starters I had the stuffed mushrooms, which were an excellent beginner. After I had a simple house salad with their homemade Italian dressing, which was very delicious. For dinner I had the Lasagna, and my husband had the Chicken Picatta. We loved both things and couldn’t say no to dessert after having such a tasty meal.

  • Bill says:
    January 8th, 2011 at 7:13 pm   

    I too have enjoyed Vivo. Unfortunately is has closed and out of business.

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