Riviera is a swish Italian restaurant situated just down the hill from Bell Commons at Gaienmae. It was somewhat nostalgic for me to dine there as I had some memorable dinners for business and pleasure in the same space many years ago when it was Roy's Bar and Grill. The space has been renovated and features a rather busy ceiling as well as some wide-screen TVs featuring looped pictures of beaches to give the whole place a bit of a karaoke theme. There's also a walled-off section called the "Riviera Club" which I assume is for members of the Riviera Sports Club which is upstairs (I wonder what hidden pleasures go on in that section!). There was no shortage of waiters (and chefs for that matter; I counted no less than six in the open plan kitchen for a dining room that was nowhere near capacity). Our waitress was very charming and this made up for the fact that she tipped over my gin and tonic at the start of the meal and mixed up our main courses! The menu was hard work, being written either in Japanese or Italian, but not English. My Japanese is better than my Italian but my dining partner and I still required a full run-down on the menu before we were able to order.
For the amuse bouche we were served a salted prawn done on a teppan, which was quite crispy and tasty. For my entree I ordered the foie gras which was served on a piece of daikon. I knew I was taking a risk but, to be brutally honest, this combination does not really work - foie gras really should be served with something sweet, or acidic or crunchy (or all three!), but not watery. This was followed by a small spaghetti carbonara with truffle scrapings which was ok. This was followed by a clam and perch soup. I didn't really know it was going to be a soup when I ordered it, but it worked nonetheless being light and tasty. For the main I had some delicious smokey tasting lamb cutlets served with roasted capsicum. For dessert I ordered a semifredo with a medley of red berries which was accompanied by a flaming brandy sauce. Our poor waitress was very nervous about setting fire to the brandy (for which I don't blame her after the g&t incident), so I took charge and poured it myself while it was still on fire, much to amusement of the staff who had gathered to watch. Coffee followed, and my dining partner was given a cappuccino with a little bear face sprinkled in chocolate on the foam. Very cute! All in all the food was nice and the service willing. This would probably be a good place for a larger group as well.