520 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Mon-Wed: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Thurs: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Appetizers: $5 – $10
Lunch: $10 – $17
Dinner: $17 – $30
Pizza: $12 – $14
Dessert: $6 – $8
Recently, upon their return from traveling through Scotland and the U.K., Alex and Tim decided to drive down and meet everyone for dinner. We hadn’t gotten to see them in a while, and wanted to pick a good place to eat. After much debate (we are lucky to have so many options!), and considering that they had never been to downtown Cincinnati, we finally decided on Via Vite. It’s been a while since Adam and I last ate there (which was also when we reviewed it for Do Downtown Restaurant Week), so we thought it was worth giving them another visit to see if they were still as good as we remembered.
Luckily we were just ahead of rush hour traffic, so our drive from Mason to downtown Cincinnati was only about 20 minutes instead of an hour or more – though from Alex’s constant chirping of ‘Are we there yet?’ you wouldn’t have known it. We were also lucky enough to find an awesome parking space in the Fountain Square garage right below Via Vite.
We were seated almost immediately without reservation, although we did ask to be seated on the patio up on their second floor. It was a cool end-of-summer evening, which is the perfect weather to be eating out on a patio!
As usual we took forever trying to decide what to order – there are just too many options that sound fantastic. To give us a little more time to decide on entrees we started off with the Assorted Bruschettas of the day and, since it was a Monday, a bottle of wine. Via Vite’s wine list for their 1/2 price wine Mondays is different from their normal wine selection and we had to specifically ask for it. We started off with the Sartori di Verona, a 2007 Pinot Noir.
The Assortment of Bruschettas varies and unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch what each of the toppings were when our waitress was telling us. I do remember that one was chicken liver, one was salmon, and two were different types of tomato. How quickly they were devoured was testament to how much everyone enjoyed them. Personally, I thought they were all good and, while it was fun to try all of them, none were exceptionally delicious.
For his entree Alex ordered the Cioppino, an Italian seafood stew with tomatoes, fish and shellfish topped with garlic crostini. He really loved it, and the small spoonful I tried was amazing. The base was thick and tomatoey with a complimentary yet not overbearing seafood flavor, peppered with little chunks of fish and tomatoes. It’s a fantastic dish for someone like me who isn’t particularly fond of seafood, but is trying to learn to like it. It’s definitely got a lot of fish flavor, but it’s fishy in a good way – not in an overly strong way.
Tim and Alex also split the Bianca, a wood-fired pizza with garlic confit, goat cheese, mozzarella, artichokes and kalamata olives. I’ve always heard high praises about Via Vite’s pizzas, tasting the Bianca confirmed all of it for me. Adam, Alex, Jody and I all loved it, but Tim just thought it was okay.
The crust of the pizza was thin but not too thin – still sturdy enough to hold together when picked up. The crust also had a wonderful flavor which complimented the ingredients on top of it – all of which were amazing – rather than just serving as a platform for them.
Adam chose the Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Peperonata, Pork Jus and Crostini. He loved it, and after my bite of it so did I. It was juicy and delicious with the flavors of the bell peppers and bacon melting into those of the perfectly cooked pork medallions. The crostini, while not fantastic as a solo act, provided a satisfying, crunchy counterbalance to the warm tenderness of the pork that really helped tie everything together.
I didn’t try the Seared Beef Filet with caramelized brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes that Jody selected, although between mouthfuls and laughs she confessed it was one of best dishes she had enjoyed in a long time. I believe her, it looked and smelled amazing.
I ordered the Overnight Braised Lamb Shank with Lamb Jus and Creamy Polenta. The meat fell off the bone at the slightest touch and each bite melted on your tongue. It was fantastic, particularly the taste of the herbs used. The wonderfully savory flavor went splendidly with the dry red wine we were drinking. My only complaint is that I wasn’t able to finish all of it, and had to forfeit the final bites to Adam in order to not miss out on dessert.
Overall we were impressed at how quickly everything came out, and how attentive the servers were – although there were several waiting on our table and it did get a bit confusing they were all friendly and kept our glasses of water topped. Alex picked a second wine for us to try since, between four of us who were having wine, we drank the first bottle up quickly. He decided on the Villa Mt. Eden 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Like the first wine we had chosen it turned out to be excellent.
When it came time for dessert we immediately began by eyeing the tiramisu, but decided to ask the waitress a few questions about it before ordering it. It’s unfortunately common for restaurants to purchase pre-made tiramisu and serve it on a nice plate – and if we wanted pre-made we’d go buy pre-made from a store, so we figured it best to ask. Our waitress explained that Via Vite makes all of their tiramisu from scratch (awesome!) so Alex ordered one, and Adam and I requested one to split. I also ordered an Irish Coffee, which consisted of coffee with Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s in it and some whipped cream on top, and Adam decided on a glass of a Courvoisier VSOP as an after-dinner drink.
Tim selected the Caramel-Sea Salt gelato by Madisono’s Gelato, and Jody chose a slice of the Cheesecake, which was topped with orange marmalade, fresh berries and vanilla whipped cream.
Tim and Jody were both in heaven with their respective desserts. I thought the dish they served the gelato in was pretty neat, and I’m sure it was tasty since Madisono’s makes excellent gelato, but I didn’t try any. I can say that I got to try a bite of Jody’s cheesecake and it was fantastic, although the plating was a bit awkward – the plate itself was huge in comparison to the tiny slice of cheesecake, and made it appear significantly smaller than it was.
I do regret having to share the Tiramisu, as it was wonderful. The blueberries on top were a nice touch – both aesthetically and flavor-wise they complimented the tiramisu perfectly. The drinks we ordered to go with dessert were equally good, though it would be difficult to mess up a glass of Courvoisier VSOP when all you have to do is pour it. My Irish coffee was delicious, but the green on the whipped cream was a bit much and it was a bit too sweet for me – I suppose I should have asked if they would add sugar to it, but I didn’t expect it.
All in all the food at Via Vite is amazing and our servers were all friendly. It’s definitely worth going back again, if for nothing else than at least for the pizzas and wines. We didn’t really have any complaints with any part of our dinner there. If I really wanted to get nit-picky, several of the plates were chipped which didn’t look too nice in photos, but overall that doesn’t bother me. We’ve decided to let them keep the well-earned 4/5 plate rating we gave them last time. Via Vite is a great restaurant, and worth going if you’ve never been before. The price of the dinner’s may be a bit much for nightly excursions, though the food is certainly worth what you pay. The pizzas are an excellent choice for someone looking for Via Vite quality fare without the cost of a full dinner.
Have you been to Via Vite lately? Do you agree that the price is worth it, or did we miss the mark here? Share your experiences in the comments!
We took many more pictures than we were able to put on this review, so if you’d like to see more check out our Via Vite revisit Facebook gallery.
Verdict: A Great Italian Treat
Via Vite is a great, modern Italian restaurant with classy decor and an awesome view of Fountain Square. The food is delicious, although it can get expensive. The wood-fired pizzas are well known and for good reason – they are amazing. There are several parking lots nearby, but the most convenient is the Fountain Square parking lot directly underneath it. Just keep in mind that it can fill up quickly.
It’s a great place to hang out with friends, or to take your significant other out on a date. Certain wines are half price on Mondays, so if you are a wine lover that is the night to go. If money is a concern, I suggest you try them for lunch, stick to appetizers like the pizzas, or make use of coupons which are easily obtainable.