My wife and I tend to go to Riva Cucina every few months. Why? The food is very good and a good value. It reminds me of the food we ate when we lived in the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy. The service is generally sound. The restaurant is attractive and elegant, a place you could go for a special date. Corkage is free on Wednesday, and so if you have some nice bottles of wine that you want to enjoy with a lovely dinner, it is a great combination. For a variety of reasons we hadn’t been for quite a few months, and so it was high time to revisit Riva Cucina along with our daughter.
There were multiple familiar dishes on the menu. When I have found a dish I enjoy, I really have to force myself to try something different; you never know what you might be missing. On this occasion, there were three of us, and so there were more dishes to share. I am fond of the dayboat scallops in the shell ($6/scallop) and the fritto misto, which is a substantial serving and well-suited for sharing. My wife had the speck and burrata; she thought the portion, particularly of the burrata was very large. My wife enjoyed her pumpkin ravioli; usually I get a bite of whatever she has ordered, but not this time. My daughter had the pasta with mushrooms, and enjoyed her dish. I ordered the spiedini, with three skewers of grilled shrimp and grilled swordfish atop some oven-roasted potatoes. I was also given a side salad that may have been a bonus. The fish was beautifully grilled and fresh, and the shrimp were very nicely cooked. It was a very pleasant and delicious dish, and at $23, a great value. Although I did not order it this visit, the seafood risotto is also very good, and highly recommended.
A few tips. Street parking can be difficult, but the restaurant has a substantial number of parking spots reserved in a parking lot very near the restaurant. If you are heading north on 7th, then before you get to Heinz Avenue, turn into the office-building parking lot and proceed in the direction you would go in to reach the restaurant on Heinz. You will see soon see numerous spaces marked as reserved for Riva Cucina. Wednesday appears to be a quite popular night, and we saw many other tables that brought bottles of wine along. If you want to dine on Wednesday, you may wish to reserve. Riva Cucina is on OpenTable, or you can call the restaurant directly. If you have never had a good glass of Lambrusco, that sparkling red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region, order a glass here. The same holds if the last time you had one it was an under $10 bottle from a supermarket. They often have more than one, and it is a wonderful sparkling wine that goes well with the food of the Emilia-Romagna area. Save room for the panna cotta. There are a number of Italian restaurants in the East Bay that I like very much, but of all of them, I like the panna cotta at Riva Cucina the most.
We have had many excellent dinners and lovely lunches at Riva Cucina. If you haven’t tried it, it is one of four Italian restaurants in the Berkeley-Oakland area that we really enjoy, and rotate between when we have a hankering for Italian cuisine.
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