Restaurant reviews

Viva – An independent taste in the heart of Leeds

I am rather a keen fan of Italian cooking, as reviews of both Salvos and Divino may testify. However, these excellent restaurants are both a touch further out of town than many casual foodies may wish to venture! This intrepid Leeds food blogger (!) may have covered the outskirts of North Leeds in other blogs, but luckily I am also able to confirm that there are some real treats in the city centre ready for you to explore.

Located at the bottom of Lower Briggate near Leeds Bridge, Viva is a hidden gem tucked away from the main eating areas in the city centre. That said, the large letters spelling out its name and the lovely whiffs of Italian food certainly let you know you are close to the restaurant and in for a treat.

With a very welcoming owner, who enjoys giving you a personal greeting and a handshake, and who also takes your orders (whilst throwing in a few Italian phrases during the conversation!) you know you are not eating in one of the far less hospitable chains like Pizza Exress or Bella Italia in town.

On top of this very polite and welcoming greeting you can also have a quick drink in a small bar area that serves beautifully chilled Birra Moretti by the pint (or two!) while waiting for a table.

Food wise, the fare is a mixture of your more English friendly pizza options as well as more hearty Italian dinners. These ‘secondo’ options include a beautiful veal milanese alongside a range of excellently cooked and prepared surf and turf dishes that several higher profile chain steakhouses could do well to learn from in terms of execution.

On the many occasions I have visited this restaurant one dish that has never let me down is the fabulous home made lasagna, which is a true flavour sensation and really boasts the rich, meaty quality that a good lasagna should.

As well as this, they use high quality mozzarella, which means their avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad (a twist on the classic caprese salad) is beautifully crafted and finished perfectly with excellent balsamic vinegar from Italy.

My wife, on the other hand, is a real seafood fan and thoroughly enjoys the crab pasta option. This dish delivers, both on flavour and texture, without being overpowered by the crab.

That said, her true love at Viva is the crème brulee, which offers a really luxurious ending to a fine evening. I personally think that it’s a close call between the crème brulee and the rich and moreish tiramisu but there you go!

All in all, should you find yourself pottering around Leeds city centre and you’re looking to support an excellent local eatery, you can’t go wrong with the excellent Viva.

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