Rendezvous at Rivoli

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

Now that a tumultuous spring semester is over and the graduating seniors are done with their lengthy celebrations, this is possibly the best time for lovers of all fine things to explore Berkeley’s offerings  — in terms of food, of course.

Located on classy Solano Avenue, Rivoli shows us just how combining fresh, seasonal produce with phenomenal cooking can titillate your taste buds. Though a bit on the pricier side, this restaurant has been surpassing expectations for more than a decade and easily stands to offer the warmest service among Berkeley’s top fine dining outlets.

Its current dinner and dessert menu, available up to May 29, has incredibly vibrant vegetarian and pescatarian dishes that would be shame to miss out on. Here’s a roundup of our favorite picks from what proved to be a very palatable evening.

 

Burrata, arugula, strawberry, rhubarb and Marcona almonds

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

 

Ahi tuna, hummus, orange, mint and Fresno peppers

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

 

What’s the outcome of bringing together a melting ball of creamy mozzarella, angelic strawberries and buttery, sweet Spanish almonds in one dish? Pure heaven. This delicately flavored dish easily wins the title of the “best starter” on the menu, for every bite has a mark of quality embedded within it. After experiencing the softness of Marcona almonds the chefs used, we doubt the California variety would be able to charm us.

Alongside the burrata, you might enjoy the refreshing, citrus tuna (if raw fish is your thing, that is) served on a bed of a rather uniquely textured hummus. Rivoli surely does like to do things differently!

But if you aren’t the quintessential health-conscious foodie, then the portobello fritters with house-made aïoli make an equally scrumptious selection.

 

Parisienne gnocchi, English peas, green garlic veloute and popped quinoa

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

Day boat scallops, morel mushrooms, asparagus, potato purée and Madeira

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

We thought we had tasted it all, but then it was time for the mains — and boy, were we wrong. You know every penny you are paying is totally worth it when the gnocchi is pillow-soft and the peas seem to be freshly hand-peeled from their pods.

Moreover, who knew that quinoa could be flash fried and be used to provide the additional crunch in a recipe? Well, thanks to dear Rivoli, Berkeley is now aware of a novel way of cooking this much-revered super food.

It might now come as no surprise that the juicy scallops were also seared to perfection, leaving us fighting over the last one left on the plate.

Hot fudge sundae, whipped cream and toasted nuts

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

While there was an array of gourmet desserts to choose from, we decided to simply listen to the inner child in us and opt for a hot fudge sundae. Even with brimming bellies, we greedily pounced on it upon its arrival, not sparing the surrounding customers many discordant giggles and sounds of sheer delight. After all, the sweetness was just right, unlike the regular, sugary sundaes. So with this as an ending note to the ideal fine dining experience, you can be sure to leave as one happy grownup waiting to come back for more!

 

Contact Heeral Shivnani at [email protected].