Islington’s Vivo, owned by industrious brother-duo Will and Ben Thompson, is putting a contemporary spin on the authentic spirit of true Italian dining – now complete with a stylish roof terrace for the summer months.
Resting like a well-kept secret over the bustle of Upper Street below, newly furnished with romantic lighting and inviting olive trees, the modern, intimate space is fast-becoming the restaurant’s primary feature, secondary only to the notable 14m long counter filled with delicious delicacies from the extensive seasonal menu, all prepared freshly on the premises.
Proving popular for the ever-inquisitive and experimental foodie crowd, Vivo carefully sources its Italian regional wine list, and its substantial culinary offering for breakfast, lunch or dinner ensures a broad church support.
The space was designed by Chris Martel, who previously won a national award for a beauty salon design, now of Naftel Associates based in Guernsey. He designed the space in close collaboration with the owners.
The idea behind the concept, and design of it, was to create a high quality space in which customers can enjoy casual dining – as Vivo has found that the UK generally tends to provide casual dining in less salubrious surroundings.
The idea came about during visits to Italy by the brothers and they began to notice that you could enjoy the best of Italian food (pizza, pasta, pastries, salads etc) even in the most casual, fast paced locations such as airports and train stations, and, in their opinion, the quality offered was far superior to that found in the UK’s equivalent market.
Upon further study of Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome, they found the casual yet high quality concept repeated.
The main features of the concept are the impressive granite food counter and separate bar, which act as giant visual menus. The idea is for the counter to literally draw passers-by in off the street. The new roof terrace space is an asset to the space. The outstanding features of the space are the surface textures – of Portland stone, granite and rough cut oak panels which create a unique ambiance and appeal.
Will and Ben say they have had many customers remarking that the restaurant is more akin to something found in New York, or Scandinavia, given the minimalist design, where the focus is on clean lines yet warm materials.