Venue Review: Vivace Italian Restaurant
The Charlotte Observer
First Bite is a look at a restaurant that has opened recently, based on one visit, not a full-fledged review. (Want to get notes like this as soon as they're posted? Follow me on Twitter: @helenschwab.)
The food: This restaurant in the Metropolitan complex at Charlottetowne Avenue and I-277 near uptown is a second incarnation of a popular modern Italian trattoria that the Urban Food Group opened in Raleigh in 2006. It offers contemporary takes and the classics of regional Italian cooking.
We tried a hearty tagliatelle (ribbon pasta) with braised oxtail, cavallo nero (think Italian kale), caramelized cauliflower and a few slabs of ricotta salata. Salmon, pan-roasted and served amid cauliflower puree and a tapenade of piquillo peppers, proved perfect: small, but $17 - just right for the price.
Four-cheese ravioli didn't impress and arrived coolish, but arancini (fried rice balls, essentially) with goat cheese were lovely, as was a simple Caesar.
Ten-inch pizzas run $10 (look for salty egg with capicola) and pastas $9-$17; five of eight entrees are under $20. Antipasti abound and you can get meat-and-cheese platters for $11-$16.
The look: An airy, two-story open floor plan spiked with huge, orangely translucent light fixtures on the first floor and a wall of wine storage, velvety booths and rustic horizontal woods used as paneling, plus lounging space, two bars and outdoor seating. It's a luxe space for midtown.
The service: Black-clad folks move with alacrity, work together well and find out answers if they don't know them.
Details: Lunch ($7-$13) and dinner ($10-$29) Monday-Saturday; Sunday brunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and dinner 5-9 p.m., with an intermezzo menu served daily 2:30-5 p.m. 1100 Metropolitan Ave., Building E; 704-370-7755; www.vivacecharlotte.com.