Italian Food Universal City

VIVO Italian Kitchen Enlivens Universal CityWalk

VIVO Italian Kitchen joins Universal CityWalk, building upon the success of the park’s Orlando counterpart and featuring the cooking of a Milan-born chef.

VIVO Italian Kitchen joins Universal CityWalk, featuring the comforting cooking of Milan native Nicola Bellazzi Canale.

“Stuffed bread” could be a calzone’s square cousin, featuring pizza dough folded around Italian salami, pepperoni, sharp Provolone and roasted peppers, baked and topped with arugula, balsamic vinaigrette and a tiny mozzarella ball. This plate could easily be a meal for one person or would make a hearty starter for a group.

Pastas are made daily. You won’t find a better plate at VIVO than linguine nero and clams. Nicola stains linguine black with squid ink and seasons the striking noodles with garlic, red chile flakes and white wine. Clams ring the pasta pile, and basil strips add brightness.

“Hearth baked pizzas” are also popular, starring hand-tossed dough made using imported Italian 00 flour and organic EVOO that bakes in a flame-licked gas oven. Quattro formaggi is a good choice, topping a thin, crispy crust with molten mozzarella, fontina and Italico (a soft, washed-rind, cow’s milk cheese). Generous dollops of ricotta and sage complete the pizza, which comes uncut with scissors for custom slices.

The reasonably priced menu (particularly for a tourist hub) also features salads, panini and plates like eggplant Milanese and chicken piccata.

The space features a shaded patio and grand dining room with elaborate chandeliers sporting upside down glass tulips, dramatic curved copper piping hanging from the ceiling, shelves of Italian pottery and jarred ingredients, and an open kitchen.

VIVO Italian Kitchen is a welcome addition to the outdoor mall; it is certainly one of the better dining options there. Universal Studios Hollywood owns and operates the restaurant and has a similar outpost adjacent to its theme park in Orlando.

100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, 818-622-0424