Monday, 25 February 2013

Viva, Leeds

9-11 Bridge End, Leeds LS1 7HG | 0113 242 0185 |

Type of Food: Italian

Price:  2 starters, 2 mains, 2 alcoholic drinks = £40
Occasion: Date Night
Date Visited: February 2013
Overall Rating: **** Very Very Good

I always avoid Italians. In Leeds City Centre there must be more Italian restaurants than any other kind but the quality is always usually so patchy. Also when you search Italian you are bombarded by chain after chain after chain. Don't get me wrong, just because it's a chain doesn't make it bad. I just would rather try somewhere different and get something I cant get in any other large city. After a good 20 minutes searching the internet we decided on Viva on Bridge End (just at the end of Briggate past Nandos). God knows I've walked passed this place so many times and I've never really noticed it.

Saturday night was busy. Viva is lively but not boisterous. The decor was almost perfect. Not to over the top but still authentic. 

My one issue with Viva stems from when we arrived. We called in advance to check if a reservation was required and was told just to pop down. When we arrived there were four other couples all perched around the tiny bar waiting for a seat. The owner (I assume) greeted us with a warm handshake and said the wait would only be ten minutes  Ten minutes came and went and in that time only one of the four couples had been seated despite the nearest two tables to the door remaining empty for the duration of the time we had been waiting. All of a sudden the four couples got seated within about 5 minutes  Not sure what was happening but it  didn't look great that we were waiting for so long. 
Once seated the service was efficient but not so quick you felt rushed to leave. 

Italian food can be very standard sometimes. Some menus just list off a variety of pasta dishes you can get in any frozen food aisle. Viva's menu was reasonably concise especially on the pasta dishes but it was varied. I'd had my heart set on pasta all afternoon and that only changed once I had seen the table next to me and what looked like the most delicious Calzone I had ever seen. By this point the waiter had brought over a complimentary bruschetta which was beautiful. Having just watched a celebrity Masterchef episode where John Torode was talking about the perfect bruschetta I was quite keen to try a 'proper bruschetta' and this didn't disappoint. For starter I had deep fried mozzarella which came with a decent portion. Rich and gooey it was just right. Not to hard not to flaky. And then the Calzone...
The standard restaurant calzone tends to shove as much as possible into it and essentially make it to be just a pizza that's folded over but Calzone can be so much more! Viva's take on it is much more simple focusing on a light pizza bread and inside just the cheese and garlic with a tomato sauce around the outside. Complimenting it all with a light small rocket salad.

Food wise, Viva was spot on. I don't think I have had such a good Italian meal out (but then again I don't really chose to go to an Italian and then again it's usually a chain like Pizza Express or something similar). My only gripe was the first 15 minutes waiting. Bar this I think it would have been a five star review!

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