When I made it over to Universal Orlando Resort for the first time a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised at the close proximity of the parks and the CityWalk area. I knew that I should sample some food from the CityWalk area, and through some research I thought I should go to VIVO.
VIVO Italian Kitchen just opened up in June as part of CityWalk’s new renovations and additions. (Other restaurants recently added are Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, and The Cowfish.) VIVO promotes itself as “modern Italian cuisine,” and the decor of the restaurant really promotes that. It feels very contemporary inside, with an open layout and lots of light.
I really enjoyed the modern decorations here, and it was a great setting with which to relax after a long day of touring around Universal. It was classy, but I didn’t feel under-dressed, either.
I was seated near the bar, and the two bartenders working waited on me. I have worked in the food industry before, and know that sometimes servers would prefer to wait on tables of two or more guests instead of a solo diner, but the bartenders were very nice and didn’t try to get me out the door as soon as possible. One of them had a nice conversation with me about Halloween Horror Nights, which he had just attended the night before.
The restaurant was not full, but it was also a night where the parks closed early and there wasn’t any evening activities going on. All of my food came very quickly – much faster than I was expecting.
After I ordered, the bread service was delivered, and this was something I could have eaten by itself! The bread was warm, with a crunchy crust and a soft center. It was served with olive oil, but there was butter available if you wanted that instead. (I didn’t – the olive oil was perfection!)
The pasta entrees were reasonably priced, between $11 and $20. I ordered the Bucatini with Meatballs, which were “house made,” according to the menu. (You could also have ordered the meatballs a la carte as an appetizer.) I am a big fan of sauces, and the marinara sauce here was fantastic. The thick bucatini pasta worked very well with the flavors in the meatballs. The highlight here was the real mozzarella balls that were around the entree. I only wish there had been more of that!
If you are looking for more of an escape from the craziness of theme parks, a lunch or dinner at VIVO is a nice option. I am looking forward to trying more of their food in the future.