Overlooking a busy little pedestrianised square in the bustling town centre, and offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as Sunday lunch, Riva is a popular hub that covers the day’s full spectrum and has a pleasant ambience.
There are a few tables outside at the front entrance, perfect for people watching in warm weather. Inside, seating is on two levels, with some mezzanine tables up a flight of steps, and the cool colour scheme – a mix of light and charcoal grey – works well in the tall, airy room, which is given the illusion of more space and light by large mirrors behind the downstairs bar.
Breakfast focuses on egg dishes, but with lighter and sweeter options too. All cooked breakfasts include tea or coffee in the price and there is a separate Sunday breakfast menu.
Reliable lunch favourites include a good mix of soup, starters, salads and sandwiches along with popular hot main dishes such as a burger, fish ‘n’ chips, Thai green curry or a pie of the day.
On the evening menu things move up a gear, as head chef Franco Liston makes things more interesting. Starters range from tangy twice-cooked chicken wings to a ballotine of goat’s cheese, prawns pil pil or a Riva grazing board.
Mains might include such options as a duo of pork belly and pork meatball, served with vanilla mash, carrot purée, cider jus and a dollop of apple compote; a poached chicken fillet with sautéed spinach and a wild mushroom sauce; or an onion three ways risotto, comprised of creamy onion and chive, crispy shallots and buttered leeks.
For dessert, you won’t go too far wrong with classic favourites like death by chocolate or chocolate mousse, while a panna cotta is delicately infused with earl grey tea to add interest.
Riva is an attractive spot, but where it really stands out is the outstanding value offered for the set dinner menu (a meal for two, including a bottle of house wine), and also a lunch special during the week, at about €8.50 for a bowl of soup/chips and a sandwich.
No wonder Riva is so popular with locals - and it’s a very useful place for visitors to know about too.