Midwest Living Review
In a town that offers too few places to dine on the water, Riva is the spot to go if your goal is a splendid view of the Chicago lakefront and skyline. Destination dining, it's not. With a wall of windows looking out over the pier and toward the city, there's not a bad seat in the house. During the day, the natural light is wonderful. At night, the city looks like a postcard.The decor is fairly simple, with white tablecloths, polished wood floors and brass fixtures for a kind of ship motif, and there is a lovely mural above the open kitchen that does a nice job of conjuring up both the sea and the Chicago lakefront. Riva is owned by Phil Stefani, one of the best restaurateurs in the city and best known for Italian cuisine, but he offers only a handful of his signature Italian dishes here. The rest of the menu includes seafood, steaks, lamb and pork entrees. At lunch, the menu adds sandwiches and salads to the mix. Prices range from $6 to $14 for starters, $12 to $15 for sandwiches/salads, and $15 to $22 for entrees. We dined here several years ago and remember the food as excellent, but our most recent visit at lunchtime was disappointing. We tried the grilled marinated chicken sandwich, lured by the promise of pesto cream and Manchego cheese on brioche. What we got was a dried-up piece of chicken in a funky lemon sauce and on a hamburger bun ($12). We wish we would have stopped in for dinner, because the menu looked more promising: saffron tagliorini, with shrimp, clams, mussels, andouille, sweet and hot peppers, and Cajun cream ($26); Stefani's butternut squash agnolotti, with grana Parmigiano, sage leaves, brown butter and black walnuts ($21); and scallop fettuccine, with toasted pancetta, wild mushrooms, winter chard and pecorino cheese ($26). The prices are a bit steep, especially at night, but if you're coming for just a meal, you can trim the total cost by taking advantage of the restaurant's valet service rather than paying for Navy Pier parking.