Alive and Very Well
Sep 16, 2014 12:26PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Vivo Trattoria and Wine Bar at The Hotel
Hanover • 410-799-7440
The news on restaurants: a welcome movement toward a more convivial atmosphere for socializing with food and beverages—the true to the spirit of “trattoria.” Serious bars with lounging areas as well as food served at formal tables.
We saw a fresh example of this trend when my friends and I made our entrance to Vivo Trattoria at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve in Hanover. Within the spacious hotel lobby was the doorway to Vivo Trattoria and its ambience reminiscent of Tuscany's vivid mountainous region. The stone walls and deep earthy colors evoke an Etruscan-walled village with a contemporary sensibility. The open ceiling accommodates a variety of interesting light fixtures. Vivo means “alive” in Italian—apropos for the goal of providing a lively place to share great food, wine, and company. The chefs showcase their talent through the open display kitchen area. We first traversed the long bar area on to the cozy banquet-style seating we chose, in contrast to the other (and more plentiful) options of rich dark wood tables and chairs.
Beginning with beverages, naturally, we remarked that the wine menu is very extensive with more than 20 wines by the glass, priced for six or nine ounce portions. Old World Italian (as they are termed on the menu) wines dominate the menu. However, there’s also an abundant share of New World reds and whites—meaning California, as well.
Minestrone soup ($7) is a must at any Italian restaurant and this pleased the table although it wasn’t traditional, as the broth was light and the vegetables seemed freshly cooked; not simmered down to a melting pot.
Calamari ($10)—breaded and lightly fried—came as a tasty surprise with red cherry peppers in the fried mixture. The marinara dipping sauce was excellent. We were intrigued to the menu’s salads by sampling two fresh spins on greens. Arugula, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Salad ($9) satisfied with pears, shaved fennel, and walnuts dressed with white bean vinaigrette. The pears actually had been poached in red wine and were fresh and crunchy. We also opted for the Romaine and Baby Kale Caesar ($9), which was interesting with Caesar dressing, individual anchovies, hard-boiled egg, and the ubiquitous croutons.
On to entrées. Salmon with Crab Topping ($24) won over our taste buds. “A sturdy center cut filet was topped with crab, lemon, and herb toasted panko” did not adequately describe the divine cream sauce which surrounded the generous portion along with asparagus as the vegetable.
Bucatini with Lobster and Shrimp ($23), with roasted tomatoes, chardonnay, thyme, and cream delighted too. Since one diner was focusing on gluten-free, the chef accommodated and the dish arrived with a gluten-free penne pasta. When the waiter served the gluten-free choice, he mentioned that the brick oven-fired pizza could ride on a gluten-free crust as well because it is all made to order.
Braised Pork Shank Osso Buco ($24) accompanied by rosemary potatoes and a “tomato pan gravy” as they term the sauce, again earned compliments for the chef for the fine preparation of “fall off the bone pork,” which we were informed simmered for more than three hours. The substitution of spaghetti Marinara over potatoes was obliged so our diner could experience some pasta. Tuscan Filet Mignon ($29), topped with gorgonzola dolce (meaning a slightly sweeter cheese) and surrounded by a Chianti reduction, arrived perfectly as ordered along with charred asparagus.
Ricotta Cheesecake with Berry Sauce and Whipped Cream ($9) was the prize of sweets we tasted off the dessert menu. The classic Tiramisu ($6) took on its own personality rather than the traditional. Arriving in a Mason jar-style lidded crock rather than a square layered cake affair, this was lighter than many I’ve tasted, and didn’t have the pronounced rum/espresso overtones. A biscotto was speared into the cream. Raspberry Sorbet ($6) was light, very sweet, and cooling.
Vivo Trattoria and Wine Bar is sister to Grillfire (an American grill) and both owned by the George Martin Group of New York and housed at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve.
Hanover, Maryland is the seat to many new homes and condominiums, the Arundel Mills Mall, and Maryland Live Casino. And being just minutes from BWI Airport, the area is bustling. Vivo feeds off this energy and presents an engaging, wholesome, and exciting dining experience.