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 Italian Eatery207 S. Third St., Geneva, (630) 402-6444, liviaitalianeatery.com/
Cuisine: Creative Italian
Setting: Casual and contemporary
Entrees: $14 to $29; small plates: $6 to $13; desserts: $3 to $7
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday
Also: Seasonal patio
Sister restaurants: Gia Mia, 13 S. Third St., Geneva; and Gia Mia, 106 N. Hale St., Wheaton
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.
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.
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).
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 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.