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posted: 7/5/2017 6:00 AM

Creative Italian comfort food elevates Geneva's new Livia

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  • Crab Toast makes a satisfying starter at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.

      Crab Toast makes a satisfying starter at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Calamari and Shrimp Fritto pairs the two seafood favorites with a lemon aioli at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.

      Calamari and Shrimp Fritto pairs the two seafood favorites with a lemon aioli at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Chef Mike Bomberger's Chef's Board features a mix of meat and cheeses at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.

      Chef Mike Bomberger's Chef's Board features a mix of meat and cheeses at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The Butcher Flatbread comes topped with a variety of meats at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.

      The Butcher Flatbread comes topped with a variety of meats at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Pork chops with asparagus and mashed potatoes provide hearty fare for meat lovers at Geneva's Livia Italian Eatery.

      Pork chops with asparagus and mashed potatoes provide hearty fare for meat lovers at Geneva's Livia Italian Eatery.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Heirloom cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto and basil top a cauliflower crust for a veggie-lovers version of Livia Italian Eatery's Farmer's Flatbread.

      Heirloom cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto and basil top a cauliflower crust for a veggie-lovers version of Livia Italian Eatery's Farmer's Flatbread.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Roasted salmon pairs with quinoa at Livia Italian Eatery on Third St. in Geneva.

      Roasted salmon pairs with quinoa at Livia Italian Eatery on Third St. in Geneva.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Livia Italian Eatery serves a varied menu of pasta, seafood, steak and more.

      Livia Italian Eatery serves a varied menu of pasta, seafood, steak and more.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Thomas Witom
Daily Herald Correspondent

Livia Italian Eatery, newly opened in Geneva by chef-owner Brian Goewey, introduces a creative menu that will have discerning diners coming back for more.

Shareable small plates, greens and grains, pasta dishes and steak, chops and seafood give Livia's customers a pleasant surprise at every turn. The price is right, too. Excluding alcohol, two can eat well for less than $50 (and maybe even take some leftovers home).

Livia, Goewey's oldest daughter, keeps things humming at the new restaurant, while the chef's youngest daughter oversees Gia Mia Pizza Bar, which is also in Geneva.

Livia occupies space that previously housed Rascal's Tavern & Grill. The comfortable restaurant, perfect for couples, business associates and families, seats about 130 customers. Even more if you count tables on the venue's seasonal patio out front, giving diners a nice view of bustling but quaint Third Street.

To start, Livia shows its creativity with its libations, where a handful of signature cocktails include the Livia Old Fashioned (infused Templeton Rye, Rossa Amara, Demerara, Luxardo, Angostura, orange and rosemary) and Abricot Di Colpo (Herrington vodka, Combier D'Abricot, simple, lemon and cranberry). Diners also will find craft beers and a well-stocked wine cellar.

The patio is below ground level at Livia Italian Eatery on Third Street in Geneva.
  The patio is below ground level at Livia Italian Eatery on Third Street in Geneva. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

We found the staff to be knowledgeable and responsive to queries about the food and drinks menus -- helpful on a first visit.

On the small plates portion of the menu, look no further than the crab toast. Fresh crabmeat, fontina, Old Bay Seasoning, lemon and microgreens are artfully arranged atop ciabatta toast. It all adds up to a well-executed, easy-to-like dish.

Among other popular starters are East Coast mussels; veal meatball sliders in a roasted tomato sauce; and crispy zucchini mozzarella fritters. Also check out what nibbles are on offer on both the cheese and meat trays.

The blackened grouper sandwich is paired with potato wedges at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.
  The blackened grouper sandwich is paired with potato wedges at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Ready for Italian comfort food? Livia's kitchen doesn't miss a beat with Shrimp Fra Diavolo. All the ingredients for this classic pasta dish come together in perfect harmony. The tubular penne arrives at the table properly al dente, that is, firm to the bite. Creamy, spicy tomato sauce added a pleasant kick, while mushrooms and sweet shrimp contributed to the complexity of flavors.

Additional pasta options include Bolognese, chicken rigatoni and tortellacci vodka (stuffed with ricotta in a tomato cream sauce).

Lamb chops are among the entree options at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva.
  Lamb chops are among the entree options at Livia Italian Eatery in Geneva. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

A fellow diner's quinoa and blackened salmon further demonstrated the kitchen's attention to detail. The fresh salmon was cooked to perfection -- not a minute too long or too brief. The fish was plated with a salad of black kale, organic quinoa, tomatoes, peppers and patty pan squash dressed in a lemon basil vinaigrette.

Livia Italian Eatery's blueberry slab pie comes topped with balsamic vinegar flavored ice cream.
  Livia Italian Eatery's blueberry slab pie comes topped with balsamic vinegar flavored ice cream. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Livia is no slouch when it comes to dessert. Choices included butterscotch budino (aka custard), chocolate brownies, olive oil cake, sorbet and gelato.

Our choice was a slice of the made-in-house berry slab pie, a new personal favorite that came with a scoop of balsamic gelato, which imparted a subtle but memorable flavor.

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

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