Riva, the new restaurant from Jason Travi, Thierry Perez and others behind Culver City's Fraiche, opened in Santa Monica a few weeks ago, and there are some high expectations for the Italian spot, especially for those wood-oven pizzas. And so far, Riva's holding its own---the space is lovely; it's not quite Fraiche yet, but no one's writing it off; the pizza sounds like a contender in the ongoing wars; everyone's looking for a bargain these days, but, quite frankly, you won't find that in a high-rent neighborhood restaurant. And then there's that maitre d'. With that, the good and bad news.
1) Semi Good: "I've been there a couple times now, and both times walked away thinking it was good, not great, but too expensive. The prices are way too high, servings very small, and nothing stands out. It is a beautiful room though..." [Chowhound]
2) Good: "It is not (yet) as good as Fraiche but is a great addition to the Neighborhood. I agree with you on the prices, though--they seem a notch higher than those at Fraiche but that might be due to higher rent in S.M. By the way, the quail is quite delicious." [Chowhound]
3) Glowingly (and Suspiciously) Good: "Forget Bronx style or Brooklyn style, because Riva style pizza is truly the best anywhere. We went to Riva last night and were totally blown away. We ordered several pizzas but the one that stood out the most to me was the potato pizza. It was so yummy and the combination of the well seasoned crust and the creaminess of the cheese and then at the end this burst of sea salt flavoring, was excellent." [Yelp]
4) Just Odd: "I was disappointed to see that we were charged $2.00 for "Extra Soup." Upon further inquiry, it was explained to us that we were charged this -- without notice -- because we asked the bowl to be left on our table?Granted, the server took this off after we complained. But really, did we need to complain to have an unexpected charge taken off our bill?" [Yelp]
5) Bad: A reader had a heated discussion with "an owner" over walk-ins vs. reservations vs. what the nice reservationist told him over the phone. It ended poorly or great, depending on how you look at it: "Him: 'I’m the owner, and I’m not talking to you anymore.' I was completely taken aback – looked at the hostess who was listening at this point, and stared at him for a moment... Me: 'You’re not talking to me anymore? How am I being rude to you?' Him: 'You may not have anything better to do on a Saturday night, but I’m busy and I have to work. You just said you wanted to talk to Jason, so go talk to Jason, I don’t have time for you anymore.' Me: (stunned) 'Ok, so you don’t want my business...' Him: Ignores me and walks away. And then I walked out and had a spectacular dinner at Anisette with no wait." [Eater Inbox]