I’m not quite sure why, but there’s something about taking that deep dive into cuisine-specific brunch that makes it feel more like a party. This was entirely the case on a recent Sunday morning at Via Vite, the downtown contemporary Italian restaurant best know for its Bolognese. We started with a few glasses of the Ornello Molon, NV Prosecco ($8), which is the appropriate way to kick off any and all festivities, in my book, and then we dug right in to some of the heartiest brunch dishes in town.
The “Italian” French toast ($9), was much closer to a luxurious dessert than any kind of “healthy start.” Generous slabs of Panettone bread, (similar to brioche and studded with dried fruit), dipped and griddled, arrived in an enormous pool of crème Anglaise (French custard sauce), topped with assorted berries and freshly whipped cream. The dish tasted heavenly with cups of the dark-roast coffee, unobtrusively kept full and hot. The pork belly breakfast ($12), on the other hand, delivered decadence on the savory end of the spectrum. A braised cube of belly arrived in its own small cast-iron skillet, smothered in tomatoey Tuscan beans, topped with a sunny-side-up egg and served with grilled bread. We couldn’t finish either dish, but were happy to take home the leftovers. The most realistic-sized entrée was the creamy white polenta with Italian sausage and a fried egg ($11). The polenta was the best I’ve ever had. The texture was not just perfectly smooth, but loose and creamy, and completely unadulterated by slapdash additions of extraneous herbs or too much cheese.
The service was warm and attentive and kids’ menus with crayons were an unexpected bonus for such a sophisticated spot. Bottom line: This place is a sure bet for belly-busting brunch at reasonable prices. And it’s convenient for a pre-matinee (or pre-game) fuel-up. But be warned—a clean plate could leave you pining for an afternoon snooze on the sofa.
Via Vite, 520 Vine St., downtown, (513) 721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com