Late 2013 Universal Orlando Resort made a BIG announcement. They would be expanding Universal CityWalk® in a huge way. 8 new restaurants would be coming to the property over the course of the 2014 year and as of today many of those have places have opened including Antojitos, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, BreadBox, and VIVO! Italian Kitchen.
In February, I attended the grand opening of Antojitos which you can read about here but I can tell you, the food is to die for and with the live mariachi band outside and band inside on a stage you’ll be entertained while you dine. Tacos made with beer and chile braised pork, enchiladas with house made mole sauce, and of course, the coffee crusted ribeye.. just to name a few! Plus, you can even grab an authentic hand-painted mask while you’re there as well! Antojitos brings you true Mexican food that my Hispanic roots rejoice over.
With an Italian husband I like to think that I know my way around a place that calls itself an “Italian” eatery. We’ve eaten at many of these places only to leave disappointed because the food is just bland, factory made pasta that is shipped in and reheated for customers, canned sauce, and you can tell it’s not made with love. Since VIVO! Italian Kitchen is on Universal Orlando Resort property and “theme park food” we didn’t have much hope for our dinner.
You are met with a fresh sleek, contemporary décor and aromas of simmering sauces, freshly baked breads from the moment you walk through the doors. The restaurant’s Expo Kitchen takes center stage where guests can observe chefs mixing sauces, hand-crafting dough to make the fresh bread, preparing homemade mozzarella, making fresh pasta right before your eyes, and sliding piping hot pizza pies out of the oven.
To start our meal we ate “family-style” appetizers which included fresh hand pulled mozzarella. Mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, olive tapanade, pesto oil.. you cannot go wrong, especially when you can see them making it in front of you so you know it’s fresh.
We also sampled the Vasi which are mini mason jars served with crusty Tuscan toast but I completely failed to take a picture of that because we were way too busy chowing down. We had the roasted eggplant, tomato mozzarella, and ricotta with candied walnuts. Which are all $3.95 each. Seriously, amazing in a jar. I
There were so many choices for the entree my husband and I both went with traditional Chicken Parmigiano. VIVO! Italian Kitchen gives you the choice of chicken, eggplant, or veal. You get a full breaded chicken breast topped with marinara, mozzarella, and capellini with a side of pasta for $15.95. I great price for how delicious it was. Since my lifestyle has changed in July to a pretty strict Paleo diet, I didn’t eat much because I knew it wouldn’t serve me well. That has absolutely nothing to do with the taste though – that was amazing!!
Dessert followed shortly. We were given two choices: Ricotta Cheesecake, and the head chef’s grandma’s recipe – Orange Walnut Nona Cake! Both were pretty good despite my lack of love for cheesecake. The Nona Cake was tasty but really dense so none of us couldn’t eat much since we were too full from all the bread, cheese, and our entree.
We’ll definitely be returning for another visit so we can try out other menu options.
Vivo menu and dining experience is more of an upscale “feel” restaurant option to Universal CityWalk®, but definitely appeals to everyone’s taste buds whether you want to enjoy a date night or bring the whole family. View Vivo’s full menu.
For more information about Universal CityWalk®, visit: http://www.universalorlando.com
Hours: Sun – Thur: 4pm – 11pm
Fri – Sat: 4pm – 12am
Service Type: Full Service
Price Range: Entrees from $11 to $32
Participating Meal and Movie Deal Location: No