Vivo Restaurant Review – Twenty Years and Going Strong

My friends celebrated their special anniversary at Vivo and trying to match the special experiences they described, Chicago Splash Magazine reviewers, Barbara and Leon (me and my husband) headed to Vivo to celebrate Vivo’s Twentieth Anniversary. One of my friend’s criteria for a restaurant choice for her anniversary was that it needed to be near the Metra, and Vivo is an easy walk from the Ogilvie Transportation Center (and the Green Line).  On a pleasant fall evening we walked along a very lively Randolph Street to Vivo.

Stepping inside Vivo, we were immediately swept into an energetic, fun filled atmosphere.  This is a restaurant that has a long history in Chicago and continues to maintain all the things that established it twenty years ago.  It’s website ( tells it this way: ….” our philosophy on food can be summed up with these three words: simplicity, quality, and consistency. True Italian so perfectly executed that a decade later we are still the icon of the Randolph Street Market District.” And “Executive Chef, Vicente Duran, has been a part of Vivo since day one. Vicente believes that the best Italian food is straightforward and true to its roots. There are no tricks here at Vivo, just honest-to-goodness Italian food served in a chic setting.

We were seated at one of the desirable tables near the wine bottle wall, which fascinated us.  Just looking around the room, it was clear that this is an extremely well run operation.  We were impressed with our server, Andrew, who seemed to be everywhere at the same time but still took time to be interactive and offer great suggestions about the food and wine.

We had an opportunity to speak with Executive Chef Vicente (Vini) Duran.  He is so friendly and outgoing and appeared to be a friend of many of the patrons.  He told me that he enjoys being at Vivo.  He was pleased to have had the chance to cater for Oprah Winfrey in the early days before she had her own chef and that after games at United Center (very near the restaurant), Michael Jordan and most of the team came over to Vivo and essentially became a private party, closing the restaurant.   He also pointed out a table behind us and up the stairs.  This is a very special table located in an area that was once used for an elevator.  Private parties often reserve this space and more engagements that you can count occurred at this very special table perched above the rest of the dining room with its own private velvet curtains.

We were very impressed through out the meal by the very generous portions and the wholesomeness of the food.  So, when you come be sure to bring your appetite.

The menu was extensive and very Italian.  Items grilled in the wood-burning grill are marked with a fire icon. To accompany meals there are 14 beers, and very selective wines that are primarily Italian, many by the glass.

Leon began the evening with a glass of Nino Franco Prosecco that was delicious. Bread was brought to the table with an accompaniment of seasoned olive oil with shredded Parmesan cheese, which tasted very good.

We chose to share the Anipasto Della Casa, which is wood grilled asparagus & roasted peppers, topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.  The hot asparagus contrasted with cooked cold red pepper and the Parmigiano Reggiano was a perfect texture/taste experience.  Donnafugata ‘Anthilia’ Blend, Sicilia, Italy further enhanced the flavors.

From the two soup choices for the evening, Leon selected the Vegetarian Minestrone.  The vegetables tasted fresh and just a bit crispy, not overcooked.  The Casamatta, Sangiovese, Toscona, Italy was perfect with the soup.

We decided to share the Gnocchi Gratinati , which was a good plan.  The handmade Italian potato dumplings baked in a decadent Parmesan cream and black truffle sauce was very rich and as Leon said, “The best I’ve ever had”.  The top was crusty, a hint of nutmeg in the sauce and the dumplings were firm but tender.  I would certainly order this again.  And the Raptor Ridge, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon set off the mellow flavors perfectly.

Leon could not resist the Costolette di Agnello, which again, was a good thing.  This was a very generous serving of wood grilled lamb chops in a red grape balsamic reduction sauce served over sautéed spinach with roasted potatoes.  Leon could not believe the wonderful flavor of the sauce.  The lamb chops were amazing, deliciously flavored and perfectly cooked and enough so one does not leave hungry.  He loves spinach and the portion was plentiful and it was delicious.  The potatoes were crisp outside and soft inside and were flavored with rosemary.  The Bergadono, Borolo, Piedmonte, Italy served with the lamb chops was just wonderful, smooth and tasty and more substantial that pinot noir.

Ending our meal, I ordered a decaf cappuccino, which was perfect to look at and lovely to taste.

Not being able to resist dessert, sharing was once again in order.  And what a decadent dessert this was.  We ordered Meringata and were somewhat surprised when it arrived and greatly rewarded when we tasted it.  This was Pistachio gelato, with pistachio nuts and fresh raspberries wrapped in house-made marengue and topped with a warm dark chocolate sauce.  Sounds great, right?  But words can’t describe the crunch and the cold gelato and the lovely pistachio, raspberry and chocolate flavors.  I suggest you taste it to see what I mean.

As we left for the Metra we were thinking, Happy Twentieth Birthday Vivo! Keep up the good work.


838 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-3379

Hours: Sun 5–10pm; Mon-Wed 11am–10pm; Thu 11am–11pm; Fri 11–12am; Sat 5pm–12am

Learn more on their website here

Subway: Clinton-Green











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