Vivo Taste, Angel - Review

Cat Byers |


A stylish Italian bakery that shuns the stereotypes and offers discount Negronis on a Wednesday. What's not to love?

An Italian bakery is hardly a novel idea in London. You can buy a soggy panini on every street corner from Shepherd's Bush to Stratford, and the restaurant industry is completely saturated with pizza-and-pasta chains. Perhaps its the Roman instinct to conquer, but we have reached a point where what was traditionally considered ‘Italian food' is now pretty much just ‘food' – everyone's got a spaghetti bolognese in their repertoire, however far from the original it may be. As a result, it's easy to forget what good, casual Italian food tastes like. Cafe Murano and Cecconis have the high-end covered, but there seemed to be a gap in the market for a properly good, relaxed bakery and bar. Brothers Will and Ben Thomson spotted this gap, and opened Vivo Taste on Upper Street in 2013. Shunning the cringey stereotypical pizzeria interiors, they went for a slick, stylish Sorrento vibe with tiled floors, high wooden tables and a wall of jutting rocks. The long room is dominated by a 14-foot-long glass counter full of mouthwatering foods. There's no table service at Vivo – instead, diners order food to eat in or take away at the counter, then drinks at the bar. vivo The selection is simple but solid, with a small section for pastries, foccacia sandwiches, pizza slices, salads, cheese and meat plates, hot mains, and desserts each. Chef Alessandro De Sanctis cooks everything on the premises, and the menu changes regularly according to the seasons. We started with a selection of salads, including octopus and potato, ricotta and pumpkin, and caprese. The mozzarella on the caprese was enormous, although drier than we would have liked and not quite creamy enough in the centre. The tomatoes, however, were fresh and sweet and the balsamic perfectly balanced, while the octopus salad was tender and well paired with the potatoes. Leaving no time to digest, we went straight for main courses of pesto pasta, meatballs in tomato sauce with roast potatoes and green beans, and chicken caesar salad with duck eggs. The homemade pesto was excellent, full of flavour and made with a mix of basil and rocket so as not to be overpowering. The meatballs and potatoes were slightly dry, perhaps due to the time lapse between cooking and serving. The chicken caesar, however, was creamy and generous. Screen-Shot-2013-10-09-at-10.19.38-1200x719 They saved the best for last, as we finished by sharing a chocolate, pistachio and candied orange cannolo, followed by an enormous cheese platter with quince chutney, honey and nuts. Vivo Taste works because they know their clientele and what they want - when we arrived on a Tuesday evening, the place was filled with young media types enjoying the fresh food, cheap Italian cocktails and beautiful rooftop terrace. The food is great value for money, the ambience is buzzing yet relaxed, and the location in the centre of Upper Street is hard to beat. While a few dishes still need tweaked, we will most definitely be returning here soon (and probably on a Wednesday, for those discount Negronis!).

Food: 4/5

Venue: 5/5

Cuisine: Italian

Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £40

Wine: £3.30– £6.50 (125ml)

Vivo Taste, 57/58 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0NY
Tel: 0207 4245992
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