The Triangle's Best Restaurants: Top 20

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The News & Observer, January 2008

Vivace Beverage Program mentioned in…

USA Today, May 2006

“Atmosphere, service, and food... all are expertly delivered here and it's insta-hotspot status seems to suggest that many others agree with me.”, May 2006

“Kevin and Stacey Jennings are at it again… Vivace… certainly lives up to the couples' reputation for stylish decor.”

The News & Observer, April 2006

“Some people are just good at what they do… Kevin and Stacey Jennings are those kind of people… So, as far as first impressions go, I'd say this one is love at first sight. [Vivace]”, March 2006

“Restaurateurs Kevin and Stacey Jennings have collaborated to present a new, casual dining experience called Vivace.  An open kitchen, wood-fired grill, and cheese carving station will set the stage for contemporary Tuscan fare....”, December 2005

“Vivace… plans to center its bar menu on house-made limoncello.”

The News & Observer, November 2005

“… Vivace, an Italian restaurant, with a menu including house-made pastas.”

The News & Observer, February 2006

Vivace appeared in…

Food Arts, October 2005

“… the seasoned restaurateurs of Frazier’s and Porter’s City Tavern will join the Raleigh Renaissance taking shape at The Lassiter at North Hills with opening Vivace, Raleigh’s newest Tuscan-inspired restaurant.”

Apollonaire, Autumn 2005

Raleigh Restaurateurs redefine Trattoria Dining in the Triangle with the opening of Vivace

The seasoned Urban Food Group restaurateurs of Frazier’s and Porter’s City Tavern joined Raleigh’s culinary renaissance with the opening on Vivace in March 2006 (The Alexan, 4209 Lassiter Mill Road, 919-787-7747). Taking its name and cue from the Italian word meaning “lively,” Vivace introduces a modern convivial Italian restaurant in a stylish setting where the overall dining experience is further enriched thanks to Chef Jeremy Sabo’s signature innovative style, employing an updatedand seasonal perspective on classic Italian dishes.

The James Beard award-winning restaurant design firm, The Johnson Studio, has created a cozy, rustic-chic Italian influenced setting at Vivace. A warm, neutral palate recalling the Italian countryside -- olive greens, creams and mochas -- is accented with luxurious contemporary textures in suede and mohair. Overhead, fabric-covered chandeliers of varying size illuminate the distressed chestnut-colored wooden floors in the dining room. Seating near the warm hearth of the wood-fired oven offers unique dining for 6, while banquettes and deep booths offer intimate dining for 65. A double-sided marble bar glows indoors and out creating a dramatic ambiance in the evenings. The curved, elevated banquette adds energy to the dynamic bar seating 30 indoors, while outdoors, umbrella-covered tables and rattan furniture give al fresco dining the feeling of a Roman piazza.

Chef Sabo delivers a seasonally focused trattoria menu. Freddo and Caldo, or Hot and Cold Appetizers, include cured meats, artisanal cheeses with mostarda, seasonal bruschetta such as Truffled White Bean, and the must-haveFried Stuffed Green Olives. Alongside classic thin crustNeapolitan pizzas, expertly baked in the wood-fired oven with a host of Italian ingredients – Fennel Sausage, Peperonata, Arugula, and Italian cheeses -- enjoy seasonal salads such as the Winter Caprese, featuring oven-dried tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella or the Pickled Beet and Gorgonzola Salad with Shaved Fennel. Hearty soups include Sabo’s Italian-style French Onion Soup, served with a poached egg, semolina dumpling, and Pecorino Romano.

Primis, or house-made pastas showcase Sabo’s hands-on expertise. The Ricotta Tortelloni, made with smoky bacon, fresh bacon and fava beans features carbonara flavors, but in an entirely fresh interpretation, while his Linguine with Clams includes plump mussels and spicy piquillo peppersfor that essential piquant note.

Secondi’s, often wood-fired, feature generous entrées such as Florentine-style Porterhouse with Extra Virgin Olive Oil Potato Puree and a Barolo Wine Reduction, Smoked and Roasted Chicken with Swiss Chard and Parmesan Broth and Veal Osso Bucco. While Pancetta-wrapped Monkfish with Braised Fennel, Celery, Baccala Potato Puree and Lemon Parsley Aioli recalls a Venetian meal.

Pasticceria by Pastry Chef Eric Akbari follow Chef Sabo’s updated style – classics are reinterpreted in a decidedly sophisticated fashion. Tira Misu features a twist, as does the Amaretto-Semifreddo with a black pepper-caramel.

As a complement to the updated Italian dining experience, Vivace offers a focused and festive beverage program, featured in USA Today in May 2006. Italian wines dominate the wine collection, with 15 available by the glass. At the bar, house-made Limoncellos in a variety of flavors form the basis for the cocktail program, quenching the Triangle’s thirst for a unique and contemporary trattoria dining experience in the South.

Vivace is open for lunch and dinner daily, and serves a brunch menu on Sundays. In between lunch and dinner, they offer an “Intermezzo” menu. Their outdoor patio is open during all business hours.