In one of my many table-service dining experiences with my theme park friends last month, we went to Vivo Italian Kitchen. Vivo ranks as my top-rated restaurant at Universal Orlando Resort except for some of the six fine dining restaurants on the property. I normally would choose Vivo over several of those places that cost far more than Vivo. Yet, I have been hearing from trusted sources that the quality of the experience here has dropped a little. I started to see that during my August visit to Vivo. Even though the pass holder exclusive menu item was rated as excellent, the other entrée tasted good but not great. This evening, I decided to put Vivo to the test but ordering one of their vegan options.
Though I do not eat exclusively vegan, I often block out a portion of my week to eat vegan. The large collection of frozen plant-based “alt-meat” products in my freezer right now would scare you. In fairness, there was a sale on them at our local grocery store. However, I find myself very picky about vegan table service entrees. I do not want the chef to have to modify it for me by taking something out and still charging me the same price. That annoys me. Sorry, that may be one of my many character flaws. So, this evening, I ordered the Vegan Sausage Pasta entree
This entrée costs $20. This pasta dish involves very few ingredients. Guests receive seared vegan Italian sausage, penne pasta, marinara, and spinach.
Before moving on to the quality of the food, our server needs to be mentioned. Matt, our server, showed skill in providing for our table. He has a comfortable joking style schtick that most guests found enjoyable. Being an old man set in my ways, I found it distracting from my meal. Of course, most people are not analyzing the quality of the spinach in their pasta while dining at Vivo. He did throw off my meal a bit with his joking-style routine.
Of note, he immediately brought out two paper menus for our table when he greeted us. He seemed to be acknowledging people’s frustration with online menus. My dislike of online menus involves the fact that Universal Orlando cannot seem to keep them updated. I continue to see this problem at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. I appreciated the paper menus since, at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, we constantly found ourselves at the mercy of inaccurate online menus over the last two months.
Back to the pasta. I enjoyed this dish. It offered a solid flavor from the sausage. Yes, the expected aftertaste from this style of alt-meat happened. Yet, the spicy nature of the dish reduced that noticeably. The pasta tasted great as always here. Also, I felt I got a large portion of pasta for this price point. The sauce and sausage matched almost perfectly on this evening.
As I was eating this, I thought it needed more sausage. However, as I got to bottom of the bowl, I discovered the sausage tended to sink to the bottom. If you order this, try to keep mixing the pasta, sauce, and sausage combination.
On the negative side, I would have preferred a different green vegetable as opposed to the spinach in this dish. The spinach offers a texture change that was not bad but simply added nothing positive either. As I was eating this, I desired more sauce. Yet, more sauce might throw off the spice balance of the sausage a bit too much. The chefs surely considered that issue already.
For a $20 entrée at a theme park resort, this tasted good. For a non-modified vegan pasta dish, this tasted excellent. I would go back and order this again even when feeling like a carnivore that day. The quality of that evening merits a return engagement. In terms of this entrée, Vivo Italian Kitchen has not dropped in terms of quality at all. As always, eat like you mean it!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.