First off, the Yelp community has mixed reviews. There are a few high ratings, but most of the reviews range from bad to worse. We knew that the place specialized in absurdly large portions, so I hoped that the quality would at least be decent, because we would probably end up eating the leftovers for at least another two meals. We rolled up to the restaurant for lunch, and the place seemed empty to the point where we wondered if it was even open.
Well, if Pauly D likes Rivoli's that much, I guess we owe it to him to give the place a shot.
|This is Rivoli's idea of a "kid's meal" - if your kids eat like Godzilla that is!|
My wife went for chicken parmigiana over linguini- again enough chicken parm to cause bodily harm, over a mound of linguini that made the kids meal look like, well, a kid's meal. We still haven't finished all the linguini now two days later, and I think we're giving up on it. My wife, who seems to have accepted that she married a crazy person who takes photos of food when we go out to eat, intentionally ordered something simple, just to see if they could get it right. (nice job!) I went for something a little more complicated, because I thought it would be something they could easily mess up or overdo, a balsamic chicken dish- chicken, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and potatoes in a balsamic vinegar sauce. The vinegar could very easily be over-reduced or too overpowering, turning the dish into something cloying and unpleasant...
...but it wasn't. The platter doesn't look very pleasing. but the flavor was right on. Just enough balsamic vinegar tang and sweetness that stayed well within the boundaries. The vinegar was obviously the dominant flavor, but it stayed in balance and did not over-dominate. The chicken may not have been the best cut of meat- there were a few bits of sinew- but it was cooked just right- still moist and juicy. The mushrooms were a nice counter to the vinegar, but, oddly enough, the potatoes were my favorite part. This was not five star food from the finest New York restaurants, this was decent, hearty, family style food.
As far as prices go, expect to pay $15 - $20 for an entree, but you'll easily get at least two (large) meals out of it. The oversize portions are something of a gimmick- but really, I think the original intention was that the platters should be served family style- drop one or two of these massive platters in the middle of the table and let the family have at it... but over time, they have morphed this into a tribute to gluttony worthy of Adam Richman's Man Vs Food.