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La Riviera Tuscany Bistro – Camden, NJ

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This restaurant closed on July 11, 2008.
One of our favorite lunch spots.

La Riviera Tuscany Bistro
Camden, NJ
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Price Paid: $18 (Two – Includes Tip)
Meal: Lunch
Time: 12:15p

This afternoon, my lovely Autumn treated me to a lunch at La Riviera. Located in downtown Camden, the bistro was born from the remains of an old warehouse and shares the entire larger space with several other eateries, a convenience store, and luxury apartments above. Inside, it’s still very much of a warehouse feel, although I think it works especially well and is very cozy. You’ve got a few large windows in front (with bar stools and high tables if you want to enjoy the sunlight), track lighting, and maybe a dozen additional tables across from an open, Subway-like preparation area (you can pretty much see them prepare your meal). Although the name of the place might conjure up images of something a little more sophisticated, La Riviera is definitely a casual establishment.

We waited in line for a few seconds to place our order, paid, and found a table. Fountain drinks were accessible at the back of the dining room and, as usual for a place that puts the fountain in the open, refills were free. The place was fairly crowded, although Autumn mentioned to me that had we gone a little earlier it might be standing room only. Since the restaurant is located close to a major college and a major fortune 500 corporation, you get a pretty heavy mix of college kids and the suit ‘n tie crowd – many ordering takeout.

Our lunches were ready fairly quick; it seemed easily within 10 minutes. A nice touch the restaurant offers is table delivery; you order and pay at the counter, but they’ll bring your meal right to your table if it’s not “to go.” Autumn got a caprese salad (lots of mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted peppers, and mixed greens complete with garlic bread), and I ordered a tuna rustica (tuna salad with tomatoes, mixed greens, and onions on focaccia bread complete with fries and a side salad). Our immediate first impression was that they didn’t sell us short on portions; the salad nearly filled a very large bowl, and the sandwich was a hearty slab that I ultimately could not even finish.

The tuna salad was a good balance of thickness and flavor; it wasn’t runny or too heavy on the dressing. The french fries were awesome, and I’d definitely recommend getting them if you can. The only miss in my opinion was the olive-oil-only dressing on the side salad that was included- even a house italian would have been fine. (They now offer dressing on the side .. I tried the creamy Italian and it’s terrific!) The big winner, however, was the bread. If you love fresh, warm bread, this is definitely the place. The bread more than made the sandwich, and I’m looking forward to trying the other sandwiches as well.

Autumn, I know, has tried multiple other sandwiches from La Riviera (being that she works as a nearby “suit ‘n tie”). Her personal favorite is the Rustic Vegetarian Lovers – a tomato, mozarella, and fresh basil sandwich on oven-baked ciabatta bread. As I mentioned before, the bread more than makes the sandwiches here and Autumn’s lunch-of-choice is no exception. This restaurant also offers a fairly large spread of homemade pizza from fresh tomato Silician, ham and pineapple, and tomato and broccoli to garlic, cheese, and chicken parmigiana. Autumn is constantly raving about the food and from this visit I can certainly understand why.

One disappointing aspect of the restaurant is that customers cannot order any of the pasta or dinner-type dishes until after 5 PM (and what good suit ‘n tie works past 5 these days!?) 3 PM (I was corrected by La Riviera itself!). La Riviera has a good selection of more traditional Italian foods like ravioli, gnocchi, spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagna. Although they sound good on the menu, I can’t vouch for the taste if I can’t order of them! This is a great place for lunch and the sandwich-and-pizza-focused menu is pretty extensive as is, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for an early dinner.

Pros:

– Delicious sandwiches and pizza
– Great presentation and value
– Nice atmosphere
– Staff is extremely friendly

Cons:

– Can be tough to find a seat at lunchtime
– No pasta before 5 PM

Our Score: 4.8 Chews
★★★★★
Subjective rating: Delightful!

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Last 7 posts by Chewru Guru

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La Riviera Tuscany Bistro - Camden, NJ, 3.4 out of 5 based on 5 ratings

1 Response to " La Riviera Tuscany Bistro – Camden, NJ "

  1. Chewru Autumn says:

    I went here for lunch again today and tried a slice of the broccoli and ricotta pizza. Just like everything else I’ve tried here, it was delicious – obviously fresh and well-seasoned with a crispy crust!

    As a added bonus, I just discovered that the cashier who takes the orders speaks Spanish and Italian fluently. If you know either of these, try ordering in another language and let us know how it works out!

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