I have been a huge fan of Riva in Santa Monica. I love the concept of small plates and the crudo is some of the best in the city. Susan Miller, The GM, is doing an outstanding job and the service is exceptional. That being said, lunch is just not the equal of dinner. The menu is limited – no crudo, although the pizza fans will be happy. Execution is not as crisp and seasoning is a hit or miss affair. To be fair, Riva has concentrated their revamped menu on dinner and it shows. The lunch menu needs work. Also, I am not one of those ladies who “lunch” crowd and just want salad with dressing on the side. I like to dine whether it be at 11:45 am or 8 pm.
BYO Krug Champagne
Wood-fired mushroom salad, mixed lettuces, parmesan – this should have been called just mixed lettuces as there was a very small amount of mushrooms relative to the greens. I ended up deconstructing the dish and separated out the mushrooms, topped it with some of the parmesan and used a small handful of greens on the side.
Stella, our excellent server
BYO White Wine
Mussels, Vermouth, Tarragon, Sausage – the problem with this dish was a lack of vibrancy of flavor. I think if I didn’t know what the kitchen is capable of i.e the tonnato sauce on the tuna, the house made mustard with the cured Ocean Trout, the Bacon Sabayon with the Beef Tartare, the Hamachi Parfait, the Wood Fired Tuna Meatballs to name just a few, then I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. This was just flat.
We ended up taking the mussels out of the shell and making it more of a soup.
Molto Maiale Pizza – Sausage, Bacon, Meatballs, Caramelized Onion, Tomato – still excellent.
Riva at lunch is a work in progress. Dinner is an “A” experience and I just hope that for those of us who truly want to dine at lunch, Riva can add some zest to their lunch menu.