VIVOLI (665 College, at Beatrice, 416-536-7575) Complete lunches for $49 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $13. Open daily noon to midnight. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, limited front patio access, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
At a place like Vivoli, the setting is the key. It's there for people who want to be highly visible while they're out for a night on the town. It's a party.
Problem is, you don't always find great food at a party.
Here, for example, the antipasto platter ($11.95) is a generous tray that would serve at least two people as an appetizer, especially if they like all things pickled.
Mushrooms, artichokes, olives, red peppers and eggplant all taste like they came out of a jar. The salami is supple and nicely spiced, but it's defeated by pale, hard, cold tomatoes. Tomatoes like that in an Italian restaurant? In Little Italy? In September?
The Alla Romolo pizza ($13.95) is cooked in a wood-burning oven that needs to burn more wood. The crust has what it takes: thin, excellent flavour. Too bad it's underdone. And the clumsy clumps of blue cheese, pesto, hot peppers and canned green olives don't help.
The Rigatoni Contadina ($15.95) is more of a success: lots of al dente pasta tossed in a nicely flavoured cream sauce with numerous chunks of tender grilled chicken.
An impersonal tiramisu ($6.95), outsourced and served with strawberries that rival the tomatoes for lack of flavour, keeps the hits not coming.
So throw on some some Diesel, park the Audi, buy a round of martinis and have a hell of a time.
Vivoli's got a great rooftop patio, and after a few drinks some of that food might start to look as good as you do.