We've heard a lot about Riondo's, which opened recently in the spot formerly occupied by Luigi's on Strand. This has included positive reports about the restaurant as well as ho-hums. Now that they have had some time to settle in we decided to see for ourselves.
We did make reservations even though they weren't necessary on a weekday night. The ambiance is fresh and modern with attractive low lighting. The updating to the historic setting is tastefully done and it is a beautiful venue. There is even a small semi-private dining area where the old vault used to be. Dress code is the ever-popular island casual.
We were seated immediately and were attended to frequently throughout our visit. The wine list includes domestic and foreign including, of course, Italian, but we decided on a favorite California cabernet at a reasonable price. We were brought dense fresh bread with seasoned oil and vinegar dipping sauce with a rich balsamic flavor.
Prosciutto Wrapped Truffle Fries from the many appetizer offerings sounded intriguing. It showed up as everyday fries wrapped in a bit of prosciutto and drizzled with a not particularly flavorful oil. I would try something else next time; in retrospect the Stuffed Baby Bellas look tantalizing. The Tuscan White Bean Soup was a winner, however. It was flavorful with a spicy kick, and an agreeable consistency that was not too thick. Definitely recommended.
I wanted to experience the pasta Fresco so I ordered Ravioli Pillows, which are potato filled. The pasta itself was al dente and delicately flavored, but the filling was bland. The brown butter and sage sauce was interesting but overall I would not recommend this dish.
The winner of the evening was my friend's Gamberi Portofino, of which I was insanely envious. Imagine spinach fettuccine covered with sauteed shrimp, roasted red bell pepper, and baby bellas in shallot cream sauce... big fresh shrimp in a sauce with a smoky mushroom flavor. The sauce was not too heavy for this delicious dish. My friend did share from his generous portion.
I always particularly enjoy dessert so Tiramisu was my instantaneous choice. Ours arrived in a large serving and was tender, creamy and delicious. Definitely to share unless you have a very large appetite.
The menu is extensive so many choices are available depending on your Italian favorites. Waitstaff are helpful and I suspect they would make recommendations if asked. Riondo's offers gourmet pizzas in addition for more formal fare, plus a variety of intriguing sides. Overall we enjoyed our experience and I believe it is possible to dine excellently if ordering carefully...but there is the potential for ho-hum.