Occupation: University President
Favorite Restaurant: Salute E Vita Ristorante
Reviewed Salute E Vita Ristorante: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Located in an 80-year-old harbormaster’s house, Salute E Vita sits at the center of the Richmond Harbor in the East Bay. Here Henry Kaiser, Clay Bedford, and others oversaw building over 700 Liberty and Victory Ships during WWII. Today it is a park hosting a Rosie the Riveter exhibit, which also outlines the dimensions of one ship.
Overlooking the harbor with anchored sail and power vessels and San Francisco in the distance, Salute E Vita is a romantic getaway. The owner, Menbere Aklilu, of African-Italian heritage, continues this romantic theme with her visual trademark — a single red rose on every stair of the staircase rising to the second floor. Membere began as a $7-an-hour employee at Salute E Vita and worked her way up to become its owner.
The menu is Italian Continental. For our first course, we feasted upon three seafood dishes. The Risotto di Giorno, a medley of clams, calamari, and other delights of the sea was perfectly prepared, not too sticky nor watery. The Cioppino, a fisherman’s seafood stew, was also a luscious blend of seafood in a red wine sauce. Finally, the Fettuccini Mare Terra was also well prepared, particularly when topped by freshly grated Parmesan.
For our second course, we split Agnello Scottadito (burnt finger), scrumptious and tender spring lamb, with a delicious wine reduction. These entries ranged between $19 and $21. The wine list is very fairly priced. A well-balanced 2009 Trefethen Double T Chardonnay was $38 and a 2006 Lava Cap Zinfandel only $44.00. All desserts are typically prepared in house. We split a well-executed cream brûlée and a tiramisu.
My very first meal at Salute was a memorable brunch two years ago. Since then, I have also discovered the addictive happy hours in the bar, which offer stellar sunsets and feature some of the best British fish and chips as well as one of the best American hamburgers in the Bay Area! Snag a window table and have an early light dinner! An added bonus, there is ample free parking.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Loló Restaurant
Reviewed Salute E Vita Ristorante: Sunday, May 6, 2012
Salute E Vita sits at the edge of the Richmond Marina, in an historic 100-year old building serving unfussy and uncomplicated Italian food.
Most people seem to be there for the views as the food is clearly secondary. There’s nothing on the menu that’s going to challenge even the simplest palate. Portions are large and filling, if even a little unadventurous.
Order your drinks early and often, as it seems to take a while to get even a simple drink like a gin and tonic, though the prices are quite reasonable. The wine, like the food, is not going to put anybody out, as evidenced by the White Zinfandel prominently listed on the menu. It was our experience, if your drink (including water) was empty you had to flag someone down for another drink instead of them asking if you wanted something else. This included when the owner dropped food off and looked at the empty glasses.
There were many things that were house made, but the “Fettuccine” in one dish was kind of a cross between linguine and something a little thicker. Definitely not fettuccine, though.
Desserts seemed to follow the pattern set by the rest of the food. They may have been made in house, but there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; Tiramisu, fruit tart, chocolate mousse and literally a simple bowl of strawberries topped with whipped cream.
If you lived in one of the surrounding apartments that we saw on our way in, I think that this would be a comfortable place to grab a bite. I did think that the bar looked more intimate with an attentive bartender.
The food, beverage and service was all okay, but not necessarily anything that we’d go out of way for.
Favorite Restaurant: Le Garage
Reviewed Salute E Vita Ristorante: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Salute E Vita isn’t remarkable, but you get the feeling that it’s a place for some of its diners to reminisce. The ambience is fine, but it’s probably not worth a drive to Richmond (perhaps unless you live in the East Bay). Having said that, the food is average Italian and the service is pleasant but not noteworthy. I kept asking myself who would choose to go here, and my two guesses are: families who have an emotional connection and/or your grandparents.
From what I’ve gathered, the ambience appears to be the main draw for most diners. Ultimately, it wasn’t that charming. It’s in an old Victorian home, which could in theory have an understated sweetness, in the Richmond marina. But that only goes so far… To us, it felt more like a stale dining room.
The food is standard but absolutely can’t compare to some of the better Italian restaurants in San Francisco or the East Bay. The linguine con pollo was overly creamy and only had an occasional mild roast pepper flavor. The noodles’ texture, which was a well-prepared al dente, was the best thing about the pasta. The pizza wasn’t as strong as the pasta as it was fairly mushy and had the ingredients not been fresh it seemed like it could have been a frozen meal. Also, there was nothing distinguishable about the caprese, one of my favorite dishes, or the tiramisu from any other generic Italian restaurant’s offerings.
In all honesty, I wish I hadn’t been so underwhelmed with Salute E Vita as Italian food can be a good go-to. But what it comes down to is the question of who would travel all the way to Richmond to have an overpriced and mediocre meal in an outdated dining room?