Location: 802 16 Ave NW
First impressions are everything and this place is no exception. I was first recommended this restaurant when it was still in Kensington, but I never got the chance to go until now. A friend of mine worked their briefly and praised it quite highly, my dad went and said that I would like it, so I was really expecting a lot from this place. I’m sorry to say that all my expectations were disappointed.
La Viena’s new location is on 16th Ave, where the North Hill Steakhouse used to be. The interior is a bit old and dingy, but it also gives off a homey kind of vibe. We had to wait for a good ten minutes before anyone noticed that we had come in. In fact, a small line had formed behind us by the time someone came to the front to seat us. We were seated and promptly given water and some bread and butter. Normally our family doesn’t take long to decide what we want to eat, average about five minutes or so; today was no exception. We decided on our mains and an appetizer, but the waiter was nowhere in sight. We thought that when he returned with our drinks we could order right away, we were wrong. He dropped off our drinks and my dad made to order, but the guy just walked away. For the next ten to fifteen minutes we spent our time trying to flag down the waiter, which was so annoying because he just kept pretending not to see us. At one point he was just standing there doing nothing and I was like seriously? We quickly ordered and waited for our food to come. While we waited, we munched on some of the bread and flavourless whipped butter. I mean, it was nice that there was complementary bread and butter, but when it’s just like oil on bread, it’s not even worth eating. The bread wasn’t even warm, which was a tad disappointing to me. The next disappointment didn’t wait long to manifest. The waiter came with our mains, apologizing that our appetizer had somehow been given to another table. He didn’t sound like he even cared as he asked if we still wanted it. I did, so we asked for him to bring it. The only plus to it was that it did essentially come out in thirty seconds as he promised, but it was not good. The calamari was weird, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I’ll give it go. It was easy to bite through but there were like some strands that were really elasticky and snapped against my lip which kinda hurt. The tomato dipping sauce was far too runny to be considered a dipping sauce. If you expect me to dip something into it, it has to be able to stick to whatever it is that’s being dipped into it. We ended up having to “scoop” the tomato sauce on with the calamari and awkwardly balance it without it falling off and splattering on the table. The only good thing about the calamari was the crunch, but even so, the batter didn’t hold together well and it crumbled if too much force was applied.
For my main, I ordered the Penne Hawaii at the behest of my friend who used to work here, my mom had the Filetto Di Salmone Granchio and my dad had the Vitello alla Gambertti Pepper (I think). My first thought when my dish was presented to me was, “that’s not penne.” It was closer to either rigatoni. However, presentation is only half of it, the other half is the taste. I always try my dishes before I add anything to it and, despite the description on the menu stating that the sausage was hot, it was not, prompting me to have to add a sprinkling of cayenne to add that much needed kick to the dish. It was a unique take on Italian with the addition of pineapples to the dish and surprisingly it worked. Overall, it was a pretty good dish. There was a good balance of heat, sweet, and savory. And I was happy to say that there was a fair amount of meat, so I didn’t have to go searching for it. The pineapples, thankfully didn’t taste overcooked, but it was still hot as hell. But if it’s Italian, my pasta better be al dente, it wasn’t. My mom said her dish was okay, the capers were a bit salty and the promised crab meat nowhere to be found (she found it later dispersed in the white wine sauce). When the waiter dropped off the calamari, he offered my dad pepper…only my dad. My mom was annoyed since she would have really liked some pepper on her fish which tasted fishy (like it’s going bad or has been frozen and thawed out, just not fresh) and the pepper would have helped to diminish the taste. On another note, so would a lemon, but that wasn’t provided either. My dad’s veal and shrimps in a demi-glaze brandy and cream sauce looked kinda like gravy. It was brown and thick and looked generally unappealing. Luckily it tasted better than it looked. However, my dad said (not sure if he was complaining or just saying, can never tell with him) that the veal was not breaded. I personally didn’t have a problem with it being not breaded because the breading would have made the veal so much heavier and with a cream sauce that’s the last thing you’d want.
To round off the meal we finished with a tiramisu. Tiramisu, when made well can be amazing. This I can tell you was not. There was no coffee or wine flavour; it was cream with lady fingers and chocolate syrup. Not good.
Honestly this place was disappointment after disappointment. From the speed of service, to the temperature of food, to the fact that they gave our appetizer to someone else! There’s no other way to describe my disappointment than that I was so disappointed. So much hype for nothing. Based on everything that’s happened, I’d have to rate this place a 2.5/5.