Via Vite and the Great Seduction

November 29, 2009

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I’m at Via Vite, a downtown bistro in the heart of Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, and I’m studying the line cooks. While one one of them furiously bangs away at a mixture of mirepoix, another one hurls a disk of dough into the air and catches it with his right hand. It’s kind of like performance art, if I may be so dramatic.

“This is the best stuff in the world,” one of them says as he dresses a pile of greens with a truffle vinaigrette. When the deep, earthy aroma wafts my way, I believe him. Led by Executive Chef Christian Pietoso, these guys are the force behind the packed dining room every evening. And they’re churning out some truly great food — really consistent modern interpretations of Italian classics.

If nothing else, Cinci Mag should have dedicated a page to the spinach and ricotta ravioli. It’s rich and velvety and it actually melts in your mouth before you’re ready to say goodbye. And that undercurrent of earthy goodness? That would be black truffle shavings — the kind thing you won’t find at the local Olive Garden.

Via Vite’s wood fired pizzas deserve equal spotlight. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s the best slice of pizza in the city. The wood fire grill just does something really special to the homemade dough — it comes out crispy on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside, with just the right amount of char. Smothered with pesto, artichokes and goat cheese, this pizza is on a whole different plane.

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Every time I make a trip to Fountain Square, I can’t resist popping in. Big windows look out at Fountain square which makes people watching a great sport. Plus, the boldly painted walls and heavy use of glass and steal create a great ambiance for having a drink after work with friends.

My only caveat: if you like being in on the action, find a seat at the bar. It’s a fun alternative to the dining room experience and you can watch the cooks in action. Plus, if you sit close enough to the stranger next to you, you can feast on their dinner smells alone.


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