Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
1539 Solano Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707 (510) 526-2542
Cuisine: New American
Pluses: Warm atmosphere, attentive service, fun neighborhood, beautiful garden
Don't Miss: Mashed potatoes, vegetarian entrees, fish, inventive appetizers
Prices: Moderate; appetizers $4.95-$6.95; entrees $9.50-$14.75; desserts $5.00
Overview: Open for Dinner, seven days a week
MasterCard and Visa accepted
Parking on-street, usually easy to find
Wine and beer only
This warm, nouveau-American bistro is a winner from the word go. From the warm glow of the muted yellow walls to the view of the garden from the main dining room, expect to be impressed.
Set amid the many antique shops and bookstores of Berkeley's Solano district, Rivoli offers fantastically innovative foods that are as beautiful as they are tasty. The Shrimp and Chicken Dumpling Soup (with cilantro pesto, shiitakes, noodles and scallions) is warm and flavorful, reminiscent of Thai cuisine. Chicken Cooked Two Ways (with heirloom tomatoes, grilled peppers, arugula and savory bread and parmesan pudding) was a spectacular mix of fried chicken leg and grilled chicken breast. Our group decided on the Sugar Pumpkin and Green Bean Curry just to get the accompanying Chili Chips.
The wine list is huge, with more entries for white wines than for appetizers and entrees combined. Our waiter was knowledgeable and suggested a wine that suitably accompanied each of our varied choices.
The desserts are also wonderful. We passed on the Pomegranate Granita in favor of the bittersweet Chocolate Bread Pudding. It was a tough choice, and I'm sure we would have been pleased either way.
There are no booths in the main dining room, but even if there were, I wouldn't give up the view of the garden for dining privacy. Anyway, I always like to take a peek in the open kitchen as I am led back to my seat.