Archive for the 'Riva – Santa Monica' Category


Riva is our go-to neighborhood restaurant. We got there at 6:00 and they were very busy – surprise on a Saturday night when LA tends to be a late night town. Obviously the small plate menu is a big hit, even minus the pizzas.



BYO Champagne



Sea Bass, pink peppercorns, lemon oil – sushi quality fish with great punch from the pink peppercorns



Tonno di Tonnato, big eye tuna, tonnato sauce


tuna with sauce

What makes this dish superb is the tonnato sauce – tremendous!



BYO White Wine



Hamachi Parfait, cucumber, avocado, basil gelee and I am guessing creme friache dollop on top – another winner and I am so impressed by the quality of the fish.


hamachi mixed up

The Hamachi parfait mixed up – 



Hokkaido Scallop, Santa Rosa Plums, Basil Oil – again superb quality scallops, but still too much basil oil



Spiedini alla Piastra – Octopus, lemon zest, bread crumbs, parlsey – The octopus was so tender and the opposite of chewy and tough – delicious


red wine

BYO Red wine

tartare presented

Hand Cut Beef Tartare, chives, bacon sabayon – presented with toasted croutons on top of the tartare


tartare open

Tartare uncovered – the bacon sabayon should be bottled and sold along with the tonnato sauce.




Risotto, Balsamic Braied Radicchio, Bacon Confit, Smoked Mozzarella Cheese – good



Sorbet (I think) – I stopped taking notes


Riva is the perfect, casual, good food spot. The service is warm and friendly plus the crudo is extraordinary and it is obvious that ingredient quality is of extreme importance. What a pleasure.

Riva – Santa Monica

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.


Krug - Riva

BYO Krug Champagne


Mushroom salad - Riva

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 - Riva

Stella, our excellent server


White wine - Riva

BYO White Wine


Mussels - Riva

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.


Mussels Riva 1


Mussels Riva 2

We ended up taking the mussels out of the shell and making it more of a soup.


Riva - pizza

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.

Riva – Santa Monica

Riva has a new menu!!! No more pizza is served on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at dinner.  Jason Travi and his team have introduced Stuzzichini or Italian tapas – meant for sharing.


Riva menu


Not pictured – Krug Champagne to start


Riva tapenade

Black Olive Puree, fresh herbs, anchovy with crostini – my husband ate every bite, but be forewarned you must be a lover of black olives and anchovies


Riva - sea bass

Crudo – Sea Bass, pink peppercorns, lemon oil – sushi quality fish, lightly dressed


Riva - tuna

Crudo – Tonno di tonnato – Big Eye tuna with tonnato sauce – outstanding and a must order crudo



Riva - tuna 1

What makes this absolutely delicious is the tonnato sauce


Riva - white wine

BYO White wine


Riva - scallop

Crudo – Hokkaido Scallop, Santa Rosa Plums, Basil Oil – Superb Hokkaido scallops with Farmer’s market plums, but the balance was off with way too much basil oil.


Riva- scallop 1

My husband came up with ingenious method of deep-sixing most of the basil oil; he used the bread as a blotter so we had wonderful fresh scallops with plums minus a lot of the basil oil. Our general feeling was why mask a quality ingredient with so much oil. (We didn’t eat the bread; it was just a blotter).


Riva - trout

Crudo – Cured Ocean Trout, House Made Mustard, Dill – the ocean trout was very similar in taste and texture to gravlax


Riva - trout 1

The mustard was more like a creme fraiche sauce than a mustard


Riva- squash

Deep-fried Squash Blossoms, ricotta, orange zest, almonds with a tomato based puree – I liked this better than my husband. The batter on the squash blossoms was tempura-like – not at all greasy. John found it too “safe”  and  boring. I enjoyed the transition between the crudo and then the fried squash blossoms.


Riva - gratin

Potato, Summer Green Fig, Gruyere Cheese Gratin – very thinly sliced potatoes served gratin style with the cheese and topped with the sliced green figs served bubbling hot. 


Riva - beef

Hand Cut Beef Tartare, Chives, Bacon Sabayon – usually I tend to like beef tartare finely minced served the traditional way with capers, parsley, mustard, worcestershire and a raw egg. However, this was excellent and Jason could package the bacon sabayon as THE accompaniment to anything.


Riva - beef 1

The tartare was served with Crostini – I ate mine minus Crostini with lots of sabayon.


Riva sorbet

Mint Basil Puree, Watermelon Dice, Cantaloupe Soup, Lemon Sorbet – a light refreshing palate cleanser 


Riva - dessert 1

Milk Chocolate Cremux, Coconut sorbet, Candied Pecans, Brown Butter Ganache – for me the pecans and the coconut were decadent enough – my husband went for the chocolate.


Riva is just a fun neighborhood restaurant with excellent food. There are many items on the menu that I want to try and as the menu changes with what is available at the farmer’s market, this is truly seasonal cuisine. Let’s just say I didn’t miss the pizza at all.


Current menu here:

Click to access dinner.pdf

Riva – Santa Monica

Riva has changed their menu for dinner and is now featuring Stuzzuchini – Italian tapas. Pizza is no longer on the dinner menu, except for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It is on the lunch menu, but unfortunately none of their fabulous crudo is offered at lunch. This was a lunch, but next time it will be dinner.

Dinner menu: 


Riva meatballs

Tuna Meatballs, Tomato Sauce – this was to be served with pasta, but we asked for just the meatballs. Excellent.


Riva tartare

Hand-cut Beef Tartare, Chives, Shallots – This was superb and I can’t wait to try it with the bacon sabayon at dinner.


Riva pizza

Molto Maiale – sausage, bacon, meatballs, pancetta, caramelized onion, tomato, cheese as an addition – always delicious


Riva dessert

Milk Chocolate Cremux, Brown Butter ganache,  Coconut Sorbet, Pecans

Riva is such a comfortable restaurant with no pretensions –  just market-driven food, expertly prepared.

Riva – Santa Monica

After our excellent lunch at Riva we decided to try Riva for dinner. According to Susan Miller, the gracious, knowledgeable and very competent GM, Jason Travi is spending most of his time at Riva. 

Susan sans wine

Susan Miller


Riva - BYO white wine

BYO White Wine


Riva- Seth

Seth, our excellent server. He had the patience of a saint. One table had him describe almost every dish on the menu and he did so graciously and accurately.


Riva - bread and butter

Rolls were warm and fresh.

Crudo – 4 ways – Chef’s Choice – this was absolutely superb with sashimi grade fish plus incredible light saucing that were perfect matches to the fish.

John’s crudo

Riva - crudo 2

From upper left corner

Tonna di Tonnato – Big Eye Tuna,  Tonnato sauce, capers 

Hamachi Parfait – cucumber, avocado basil

Sea Bass, Pink peppercorns, lemon oil

Cured Ocean Trout, House Made Mustard, Dill


My Crudo Order

Riva- crudo 1

From upper left corner (excuse the finger nail)

Albacore, Tomato, Black Olive, haricot vert

Hokkaido Scallops, Santa Rosa plum, Basil Oil

 Sea Bass, Pink Peppercorns, lemon oil

Tonna di Tonnato – Big Eye Tuna,  Tonnato sauce, capers


riva- hamachi

We just had to have a full order of the Hamachi Parfait. To be honest, I stole most of it from John’s plate so…….


Riva- BYO red wine



Riva - meatballs

Wood Fired Tuna Meatballs, Chickpeas, Heirloom Tomatoes – this was incredible – a take on tuna tartare done as a meatball and cooked just enough, but not overcooked. The chickpea and tomato accompaniment was a plus addition instead of why add those ingredients addition. This is just such focused cuisine – each element adds to the whole.

There were a number of items on the menu that intrigued me – lamb tartare and pork belly among them, but the menu will be changing shortly. Pizzas will only be offered on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The focus will shift to small plates, more a tapas style menu. Given how incredible the crudo was as well as the tuna meatballs, I can’t wait. But we did have to bid a fond goodbye to pizza at Riva on Saturday:

Riva - pizza

Molto Maiale – sausage, bacon, meatballs, pancetta, caramelized onion, tomato, cheese as an addition – always delicious


Riva - dessert

Chocolate Hazelnut Purse (wrapped in filo), Flourless Chocolate cake, Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut Puree, Nutella Ice Cream – to be honest, I was quite full and only nibbled at the dessert.

Riva - packed

The restaurant was packed; they are obviously doing it right. During these times, it is a credit to the restaurant that they are enthusiastically supported.

We already have made our next reservation after the menu change.