Saturday, March 14, 2009

Via Vite:

Note: We have since returned to Via Vite and the beer selection is very much improved. I have had the bolognese, which I really enjoyed, as it incorporated cheesy, tomato-ey, meaty elements that were perfect for a cold weather day. 

This post is probably one of our most troublesome-- it's really an example of how service can set expectations for an evening and color the entire experience negatively. We've come a long way food-wise (I now enjoy pate, but still hold out on the anchovy and olives) since this post and it looks like Via Vite also has continued to improve themselves as well. I encourage you to give them a chance--I am glad that we had to opportunity to give them a second one.  

Happy hour with Mom was at Via Vite this week. I saw in Cincinnati Magazine that their head chef’s favorite eatery off work was TTC, so I figured that he had good sense, unlike the Bootsy’s general manager who professed his undying love for the extra wet McRib. Sometimes I just don’t understand people’s decisions.

I arrived first, as it was about a block from my office. I sat at the bar while I waited for David and Mom to arrive. I ordered a Sgroppino, their “signature” drink, which was $6.95 during happy hour (vs $8.00). It contains grapefruit vodka, ruby red gelato and prosecco, all blended together.

A word of caution: Via Vite Happy hour, like McCormick and Schmick’s, is only at the bar. Move your butt off the not-so-comfy barstool and watch your drink prices double.

I liked my grapefuity drink, it was very tasty. The inside of Via Vite is very open, with lots of windows and an open view of the kitchen. In fact, I immediately spotted our fellow Terry’s lover working away.

They have the same wood stove ingredients has

I’m particularly interested in the spots that face the kitchen. I’d love to sit there and watch a meal being prepared.

The bar got pretty crowded, so we opted for a table. At around 6, the tables were quickly filling up, but we were led upstairs and seated with only a short wait and no reservation. We were also right under a spot light and a large speaker that ended up playing everything from the DSW shopping sounding music (if you’ve been there, you know what I mean) to “Can’t fight the Moonlight.” OK.

All around us, business people stood with bottles and glasses of wine, talking with each other. It was nice, although a little breezy outside, so the windows were open, leaving a nice open view of the street and fountain square.

After a little while, we were brought the house bread and olive oil.

David was dismayed about the oil—he stated that he wasn't sure it was extra virgin olive oil and tasted like Crisco. I had to concur.

We were read the beer list, which was pretty normal. The standout amongst the other meh beers was Matilda from Goose Island. David and I were both surprised to hear it mentioned.

I decided that I wanted a pear martini, ($10.00) Mom wanted a peach bellini ($8.00), and David went against his better judgment and decided to go with a Stella.

Don't let the fancy glass fool you. It had the skunky wiff of bottled Stella

As for the food, I wanted the Bruschetta. ($8.00) I figured that it would have normal things on it, like sausage and pepperoni and tomato. It was not described what was on the crunchy bruschettas on the menu, just labeled as “an assortment.” I probably should have clarified that with our waitress, but she was pretty absentee throughout the entire meal, so there were not a lot of opportunities to ask questions. Also, when I ordered, she insisted upon being pedantic and repeating it back to me as "Bruss-ketta." David chose the asparagus and goat cheese salad, Mom ordered the salmon, and David and I also decided to split a pizza with pesto, artichoke hearts, and goat cheese. ($12.00)

When my bruschetta arrived, I was so confused. What was this? Why is it green? And what is that poopy looking brown stuff on the far end?

My answer. (left to right) Traditional bruschetta, whipped salmon spread, salsa verde with anchovy, kalamata black olive tapenade, pepperanado with sausage, and chicken liver pate.

I only ate the traditional and the sausage one, the rest I tried a little of and gave to David, who is more adventurous. Pate? No thank you. Yucky. I don’t like black olives, and I found the salmon spread to be extremely salty. And the anchovy was also Do Not Want.

David’s salad also arrived. Notice anything missing? Quick quiz below.

is it:
A: One bruschetta, which Laura probably ate.
B: David's hand reaching for his fork impatiently
C: lettuce
D: all of the above

The answer is D. On the plus side, the asparagus spears were very well cooked. The goat cheese was also good, but it’s hard to mess up goat cheese, as long as it’s fresh. The beets? I don’t know about those. This is an $11 salad, and beets are extremely cheap. David and I were curious about the menu because some of the prices didn’t really match the content of the dishes.

Mom’s salmon ($24.00) arrived with our pizza. Its presentation was very creative, but also a little creepy. Coiled up like that, it reminded me a snake. It was served with radicchio that was absolutely full of fresh ground black peppercorns. This made it taste harsh and grassy.

It sat on a little nest of spinach greens. Very pretty, but I just kept seeing a coiled snake in a basket. Mom said the salmon was very well cooked.

Our pizza was very good. Via Vite has restrained itself in the garlic area, which we appreciate. The artichoke, goat cheese and pesto worked very well together, but I would have liked our pizza to not be so floppy and doughy in the middle.

David said Via Vite has very good water, and I agree. He’s very picky about his water.

Via Vite on Urbanspoon


  1. this review seems to have been written by someone who doesn't like food. You're a food blogger??

  2. This comment seems to be written by someone who doesnt know their own name.

    That's too bad. Must be tough! Best of luck, hope your memory (and manners) return shortly.

  3. Strangely enough, I really don't remember ever seeing a traditional bruschetta with pepperoni on it. Well it's a brave new world, have fun out there and eat well.

  4. I appreciate the honesty. I wonder though if you are not that adventurous when it comes to food and that may have slanted your review.

    It sounded like you desired a dining experience almost exactly like the ones you've had before. However, you must know by now that tomato bruschetta is just one variation of the flavorful appetizer pronounced in Italia as brus'ketta.

    You have a very interesting blog and I hope you continue on your quest for tasty delights.

    Buon Appetito!

  5. Jin, Thanks for your kind words about the blog. I'd also like to thank you for pretentiously correcting my pronunciation once again.

    The waitress was also very rude about it. We have not returned to Via Vite, and that is one of the strong factors why.

  6. The review is well written and entertaining. However, it is poorly informed. Also you say that the prices double for drinks when you leave the bar, but your example is $6.95 during happy hour vs $8.00, that is $1.05. Typically, restaurants offer discounts at happy hour, not price increases at tables. They are offering you a discount, don't complain about it.
    If you had time to order bruschetta you had time to ask what came on it. At nicer restaurants servers are also often suppose to repeat back what you order, so if she pronounces it correctly and you didn't, it doesn't mean she was trying to correct you. She may have been confirming the order. And the salad you say doesn't have lettuce- not all salads do. What did the menu description say? Please don't order food without reading descriptions and then complaining that it didn't come with what you thought it came with. I see a crostini with what may be whipped goat cheese (aka bruschetta) and a nicely presented dish. As for the price, food cost is typically 1/3 of what is charged. A restaurant is a business, and must pay employees, rent, astronomical electric and gas bills and pay for supplies and insurance, all while making a narrow 2%-10% profit. The average profit for fine dining restaurants in the current economy is under 5%.
    The salmon is also well presented. People have weird things about the way food looks or textures, and that's fine especially since it wasn't your dish. My sister, for example, can't eat mushrooms because she thinks it feels like slugs are sliding down her throat. The presentation of the salmon is beautiful.

    A bit about me- if it isn't obvious I have worked in fine dining for over 14 years. I am currently scoping out restaurants on for an upcoming trip to Cincinnati since I have never been before and really couldn't help myself after reading your review. I am glad to hear this place has good water, I am weird about that too. Luckily for me, I suppose, this review doesn't deter me from wanting to dine at Via Vite, but I think that is because of what I have written above.
    It seems to me when I read your review that you came to the restaurant wanting to be disappointed.

  7. Thanks for the input, you obviously put a lot of thought into your comment. I do appreciate the constructive criticism. I don't know if the server was having a bad night, but she definitely was not confirming my order (she repeated it back to me twice and I was pointing at the item on the menu, which she could see), and she was pretty condescending about it. I think her attitude started us off badly to begin with, and that impacted the overall tone of the review.

    Honestly, David and I have both grown a lot, food wise, since this review, so maybe if we returned we'd like it a lot better. If blogs had lives like people, I think this post would definitely be tagged "growing pains".

    I hope you have a better experience than we did and enjoy your time in Cincinnati. There are lots of great restaurants to go to--don't miss Local 127!


I try to be honest, fair and keep a good sense of humor in my posts--I would appreciate if you follow the same policy with your comments.