I never wanted to go to Viva. I wanted to go to Maretti Caffe Cucina, where we were originally booked, but chef/owner Matteo closed the restaurant for the long weekend because his wife had just had a baby. So, in search of a replacement that would serve us trad Italian home-made cuisine, we found ourselves at Viva in Applecross. Perhaps this, then, was what made me so grouchy.
But first, the good bits. The service was right on the money. Despite the place heaving with revellers and the floor looking slightly understaffed, we never wanted for anything. The staff knew their menu, and that always makes me smile. The largely Italian crowd too was convivial, jovial, pick a happy word. Long tables of rollicking celebrations abounded with family, friends and kids all running around the place. It was a lovely vibe. The decor was that of a rustic Italian trattoria, with the warm glowing coals of an open pizza oven welcoming guests at the front door. My husband's osso bucco with risotto was a hearty country dish of voluminous proportions; my MIL's stuffed mushroom was also a winner. The chilli mussels we all shared as a starter were great, with not a New Zealand green lip in sight.
Which leads me to my meal. I'd had my heart set on the goat, but apparently so had everyone else that night and hence all other hearts were sated but mine. A quick scramble over the menu ensued and I opted for the calabrese with home-made fettucine. I say quick because the kitchen, on a busy Saturday night, makes it a policy to close by 9pm. I also say quick because by the time we were sat and ready to order, it was 8:50pm. What would the motherland say? Our meals were fast-tracked to warp speed, the kitchen closed and chef Joseph Parlapiano was free to saunter among his patrons looking for accolade. Joseph prides himself on serving home-made pasta, and the boast is plastered all over the restaurant. I wanted to call him over and talk about home-made fettucine. Because the enormous pile of mush in front of me didn't seem to fit the boast. There was no bite to the pasta, no al dente feel to it, no texture. I wanted my Re Store pasta, and this wasn't it. Granted, perhaps it was something I was missing in the process, such as the pasta was rolled extra-thin, but overcooked mush is overcooked mush.
Secondly, did I mention the size? It was, literally, around a kilo's worth. I weighed the leftovers when I got home out of sheer morbid curiousity and it was over 600gm. Ridiculous. What's the point of a Stop Food Waste Campaign if this kind of excess is going on in the hospitality industry? What about pasta being a traditional primi piatti? Sure, I could take it home but, except for the calabrese salami, it was tasteless and it would be piffed.
Viva is a great place for a knees-up with loved ones, or for those who equate massive servings with good value-for-money. Just don't get there too late, or order the fettucine.