810 Matson Place
East Price Hill
There are numerous places around town that have good views of the city, but few award diners with that of Primavista. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Queens Tower condominium complex, which is perched atop a tree-lined hillside in East Price Hill. The tired decor looks like it hasn't changed since sometime in the 1980's, but the traditional Italian dishes are timeless.
Vegetarians should note that the restaurant has neither a designated "veggie" section on their menu, nor a special symbol to easily locate safe options. They do, however, list all meat-free dishes together on their web site, so it is well worth viewing ahead of time.
We ordered drinks and soaked in the view while enjoying a variety basket of bread with a gorgeous garlic puree to start. This stuff is deliciously potent; one good schmear and you won't have to worry about vampires for a few days.
I chose Ravioli con Pesto alla Noce ($7.99) as a starter. Consisting of ravioli stuffed with spinach, ricotta and walnuts, with walnut pesto and Gorgonzola. It sounded wonderful on paper and arrived beautifully plated, but I found the dish to be dull and rather flavorless; the little dabs of Gorgonzola saving it from complete failure. Steve's choice of Ravioli Fritti del Formaggio ($7.99) was far better; everything from the superbly seasoned tomato sauce to the eggplant-tomato caponata topped with a crunchy smattering of pine nuts worked well. We would visit Primavista again just for this dish. Superb.
Each entree comes with a salad - we both opted for the house, which is a mix of radicchio, bib, escarole, and red leaf tossed lightly in a special, house-made Italian vinaigrette. Nothing inspiring, but still very nice.
For my entrée, I chose the Penne alla Cionni ($16.99). The tomatoes in this dish were bursting with sweet flavor, probably a result of slow roasting/dehydrating. I wish there had been more, as I felt the price was a little steep for what was basically a large bowlful of penne pasta with a few bits of tomato, portobello mushrooms, and Gorgonzola thrown in.
Steve chose one of the restaurant's specialties: Costolette di Agnello ($39.99), which he found very good but still not on par with the perfection of Boi Na Braza's. A staunch traditionalist when it comes to lamb chops, he found those at Primavista too fussy. Perhaps it's just a matter of taste, but he thinks that New Zealand lamb, if prepared correctly, doesn't need to be encrusted with rosemary, garlic or anything else. He would have been far happier with traditional mint sauce too, instead of the creamy mustard sauce that accompanied the chops.
Primavista is a wonderful place to take someone you want to "wow." They certainly get it right at least three-quarters of the time. The service is impeccable and the views are stunning, but the food wasn't as good as we thought it would be, especially given the prices. I guess that view isn't exactly free.