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