In a building that once housed the Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada, Riviera’s high ceiling, marble wainscoting, and art deco trimmings cannot go unnoticed. The bar running the length, half the space behind taken up by an open kitchen, leads you to believe the joint is putting on the ritz even further. But casual is on: most diners dress down. Nevertheless, in a city dominated by casual fine dining, including sister restaurants El Camino and Datsun, Riviera stands out.
Service is high-end too — wait staff are not only knowledgeable but helpful and personable as well.
Mixing French, American, and Italian cuisine, chef Jordan Holley offers such dishes as iceberg lettuce with bagna cauda and lamb shank with sorghum (the new quinoa). Also notable is chicken Kiev, a breast with a perfectly deep-fried breadcrumb crust. One cut of the knife, and melted butter with parsley dribbles onto the mashed potatoes.
Presentation is notable: aforementioned mash is planted with carrot nubs. Slices of the appetizer coppa (cured shoulder of pork) are simply overlapped on a platter and served with mostarda, Italian sweet fruit mustard. Let’s hope the light, tender gnudi (Tuscan gnocchi) in a pea-cream purée returns springtime. I’d like to die and go to heaven once again.