Quicktake: Mediterranean restaurant La Riviera does tasty pizzas that pair nicely with their selection of Spritz Cocktails
As I’ve mentioned in recent write-ups, cocktails are finally becoming more integrated into mainstream food and drinks programs in Paris restaurants and bars, rather than just lurking in the niche corners. Great! That means you can grab a pre-dinner drink and food in the same spot, should you feel so inclined. The latest example of this happy co-mingling: La Riviera, where I stopped in recently to do some taste-testing along with Gail of Perfectly Paris.
La Riviera is a Mediterranean restaurant and pizzeria from the fun team behind la Maison Bleue and les Fauves. Their piping hot oven fires up pies on long fermented dough – modeled in a roman style – that are satisfyingly crunchy with both classic toppings like the Marguerite and more creative concoctions like the autumnal “C’est en Septembre” (pumpkin, veal pastrami, fried tarragon and smoked scamorza.) They also do some nice small and sharing plates as well as other main dishes. But we’re here for the drinks, so let’s talk about the liquid options on the menu.
The menu has five different spritz ranging from 7.50 to 10 Euros. I like those prices and spritz served in big balloon glasses are a fun choice to go alongside a pizza or other dishes in restaurant that gives off summer vibes all year long. Though the aperol spritz is becoming almost as maligned in some cocktail circles as the also ubiquitous mojito, it really is a drink that deserves some respect. It’s a great aperitivo with a longstanding history and when made well, it tastes great. In addition to the classic, they get creative with other versions, pulling in Galliano, Rinquinquin or bergamot liqueur.
Their “not spritz” menu has some solid options as well, including a negroni (another classic with Italian roots, right at home in a pizza joint). Retha Oceanic gin serves as the base for the G&T and with its saline qualities further reinforces their mediterranean and maritime intentions. However, they haven’t forgotten a bit of “french touch” with the made-in-france Archibald tonic water. A “favorites” section comprises classics made with their subtle tweaks like the Blood & Sage, a twist on the Blood & Sand. The Catalunya Sour uses Gin Mare, which with its mediterranean botanicals also fits well with the spirit of the place. The Old Fashioned uses French whisky Fin de Partie from Benjamin Kuentz and makes a nice digestive. Finally their “classics” at 8 Euros include crowd pleasers and easy orders like mojito, cosmo, caipi, or ti-punch.
With no cocktail over ten euros, the prices are good and a it’s a nicely thought out selection with a little something for everyone and clear consideration for the brands and ingredients that reflect the sensibilities of the restaurant in creative ways, give a nod to local ingredients and provide good options for a range of cocktail drinkers from newbie to know-it-all.
La Riviera is open 7/7 with non-stop service. If you’re solo, you can slide up to the big free standing center bar, but the space is large enough to accomodate a large table of friends.
Overall, it’s a fun space with good quality ingredients and nice prices. My favorite combination: their classic Aperol spritz with the Weekend in Rome starter pizza!
118, rue La Fayette