Vivo's sea bream comes with a host of complimentary veggies. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN

Vivo Ristorante & Bar Windermere
6143 Currents Dr. NW


11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Fri. + Sat.)

Food:  4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages:  Basic, $30; Loaded, $80


The owners of Vivo Ristorante Windermere call their concept  “modern family dining – with authentic, real food.”

Which is right on the money.  This stylish, contemporary restaurant in the city’s deep southwest, across from the Cineplex Odeon Windermere, does the near impossible. It’s all things to all people.

Friday evening, the restaurant was full of multi-generational families. A previous visit during happy hour saw an adult crowd scarfing down 97-cent meatballs and $1.50 aranchini  with a variety of on-tap beers. On our first visit, a late-evening younger adult crowd was enjoying the post-movie, post-10 p.m. happy hour.

While Vivo manages to be all things to all people, but it is also true to itself.  The personal touches of executive chef Medi Tabtoub make many of the the fairly standard menu items (pizza, pasta, burgers, salads, small plates) unique to Vivo.

Tabtoud trained in France en route from his native Morocco to Canada. Various influences – especially the North African Maghreb – ever-so-gently influence his cuisine.

Under his seared sea bream filets, for instance, is a veggie medley of capers, peas, chopped olives and onion strands. All of which pair beautifully with the crispy fish filets.

You’ll not find sopressata (hot Italian salami) and spiced honey on a pizza elsewhere, yet the duo works so well as to be one of Vivo’s most popular pizzas.

Sopressata and honey flavoured pizza.

Deep-fried Brussels sprouts have become a standard starter/small plate. Tabtoub leaves the recipe alone, glazing the crunchy sprouts with honey-and-garlic before the obligatory hot-oil bath. But crowning the dish are thin, crispy medallion-sized prosciutto slices, adding a fine meaty texture and flavour to the sprouts.

Brussel sprouts are livened up with the addition of crispy pancetta.

Steak is steak is steak, a must in any self-respecting Alberta restaurant despite its astronomical price. Vivo’s tenderloin takes on a distinct personality thanks to the addition of onion jam, more crispy  prosciutto and a horseradish mousse.

For dessert, a Tabtoub invention –  a tiramisu featuring the fruits of summer (mostly fresh strawberries) rather than the traditional stiff cream, chocolate and coffee.

With Vivo Windermere now three months old, partners Gregg Kenney and Wilbur Randall are doing a seriously good job growing the Vivo Ristorante brand.

Vivo Windermere joins the original Vivo Hawkstone and Vivo Sherwood Park, becoming the first quality-conscious Edmonton-centred restaurant chain since Carmelo Rago expanded from his north-end Sorrento Italian Restaurant to today’s 10-restaurant Sorrentino’s/Bistecca/Buco group.

Vivo has grown to its current locations despite the Great Oil Crash of 2014-15, despite the general pull-back in disposable income, despite losing its beautiful multi-concept downtown.

The downtown Vivo – one block from Rogers Place – was three restaurants in one: A high-end modern family restaurant, a taverna and a pasta/pizza casual lunch/supper spot. The concept was sound and Vivo Downtown was building a loyal clientele until, just 10 months later, the bank seized the assets of a major backer, including the ristorante.

On the plus side, It was at Vivo Downtown that Tabtoub’s talents were introduced to the general public.

Undaunted, Kenney and Randall found the wherewithal to open Vivo Sherwood Park late last year.

Then, in May, Vivo Windermere opened its doors in what was originally a Chili’s  in the growing ‘burbs of the deep southwest.

Equally important is the spirit of Vivo Windermere. The serving staff are friendly and efficient,  making customers feel genuinely welcome. Kenney pads through the room like a friendly bear, visiting every table to ensure the reputation for friendliness is intact.

Good food made gently distinctive, clean contemporary glass-clad surroundings and staff genuinely happy to be serving you: Vivo is tough to beat.