I tried gnocchi for the first time at an authentic Italian restaurant in Liverpool - here’s what I thought
An Italian restaurant in the heart of Liverpool has launched a new menu, that claims to take diners on a journey to the heart of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
and live on Freeview channel 276
Now, as someone who is vegan, my experiences with Italian restaurants tend to be fairly boring, with either a vegan cheese pizza or a penne arrabiata being the only suitable options on a number of menus. However, Riva Blu’s menu features a number of plant-based options.
To see if the menu is as good as it sounds, I headed to the Castle Street eatery to try the offerings for myself.
As soon as my dining partner and I entered the restaurant, we were greeted with a friendly host who offered to take our coats. We were quickly seated and offered water and handed our menus, and offered recommendations from our cheerful waiter. The whole venue had a cosy yet fancy vibe and was absolutely stunning, with beautiful lemon bushes dotted around and lovely teal decor.
To start, I ordered the Bruschetta al Pomodoro, made from vine ripened plum tomatoes with garlic, oregano and fresh basil served on toasted ciabatta. My dining partner opted for the Burrata Pugliese, featuring endive, anchovies, semi-dried tomatoes, balsamic, olive oil and toasted focaccia.
Our starters arrived quickly and we were both impressed with the generous portion sizes and beautiful presentation. The bruschetta was honestly the best I have ever had, and was covered in delicious oil.
My dining partner, who eats burrata pretty regularly, was also very pleased with his dish and said he would happily eat it again.
The main course was the dish I was most excited for because it was something I had never tried before. As soon as I saw the menu, I knew I was going to order the Gnocchi Alla Contadina, because I always say gnocchi is right up my street but never end up trying it.
The dish featured potato dumplings, mushroom, vegetable and tomato ragu and vegan mozzarella and was absolutely unbelievable. The portion size was again very generous but, despite being full halfway through, I ate the whole thing because it was too good to waste. It has inspired me to buy gnocchi to cook at home, but I doubt I will do it quite as well as Riva Blu.
My dining partner opted for one of the new dishes, the Candele alla Genovese pasta. Made up of short pasta tubes with Neapolitan beef and onion ragu, it was something he had also never tried before and he loved it. He said he could tell our meals were made fresh and that they had made a ‘proper ragu’.
As it was a Saturday, I chose to have two cocktails during my visit, the Cry Me A Riva and the Don’t Call Me French. The first contained Absolut watermelon vodka and passion fruit liqueur with raspberries, peach, lemon and cranberry and was delicious.
But, the second was the real winner. I am a French Martini super fan but I think Riva Blu’s version might be better than a classic. Made with Absolut Vanilia vodka, nectarine apéritif, blackberry liqueur, pineapple and lemon, it was fantastic.
My dining partner had two pints of Moretti, which were poured perfectly.
Even though we were both pretty stuffed after our starters and mains, we couldn’t say no to dessert. I opted for lemon sorbet - one of my all time favourite desserts - and was very impressed. It’s difficult to get lemon sorbet right, with it either being too bitter or too sweet, but it was just right.
My dining partner had a generous helping of tiramisu, and said it might be the best he has ever had.
Myself and my dining partner had a brilliant time at Riva Blu and cannot fault the attentive staff and delicious food. The service was impeccable and the venue itself is stunning. Throughout the meal, staff members regularly asked how our food was and made sure we had everything we needed, despite it being a busy Saturday.
We saw a number of parties visiting the restaurant for birthday celebrations, and I think it is the ideal place for a special occasion.
From the decor to the food, I definitely felt transported to the Amalfi Coast.