Sunday Brunch: Riviera Cafe & Sports Bar


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Riviera Cafe and Sports Bar is located in Manhattan’s West Village on West 4th Street between Christopher Street and West 10th Street. A review of Riviera Cafe is a bit unorthodox for Dish + Drink’s Sunday Brunch slot simply because Riviera Cafe isn’t your typical brunch haven and the restaurant is also known for being simply middle of the road.

The food
Riviera serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, but their brunch menu is the real draw. Truth be told, I was down in the West Village with the intention of brunching at Diablo Royale just around the corner from Riviera. Yet, after 45 minutes of waiting at Diablo Royale, my cohort and I decided to take our hungry (and thirsty) selves elsewhere and found ourselves seated within seconds at Riviera instead.

There’s no hype at Riviera. No people are lined up around the block waiting to taste reimagined omelettes and top-shelf Bloody Marys. Yet, Riviera offers something that ought not be overlooked: a prix-fixe brunch menu so cheap it feels like stealing. (A la carte is available too, don’t worry.)

For $13.95, the prix-fixe brunch menu includes a choice of one of the 10 dishes plus drinks. At most brunch spots in the city, $13 will get you a plate of scrambled eggs, but at Riviera patrons are getting more than what they pay for.

I went for the challah bread French toast served with Canadian bacon and orange liquor butter. The butter is just sweet enough and the Canadian bacon was perfectly grilled. My dining companion ordered the eggs benedict (served traditional-style and with a side of herb-roasted red potatoes). No brunch is complete without eggs benedict and Riviera serves exceptionally fluffy poached eggs.

The restaurant also offers roasted corn pudding, two kinds of omelettes, quiche, a breakfast burrito, and even a monte cristo, among others.

The drinks
Riviera Cafe and Sports Bar is a bar by name and thus offers anything a full bar would. For brunch, however, patrons who go for the prix-fixe are lucky enough to be granted unlimited mimosas, straight champagne, Bloody Mary’s, and coffee.

The mimosas are deliciously boozy and served in big wine glasses, so be sure to pace yourself. These are as strong as they ought to be.

The service/ambience
Bottomless brunch is a staple in this city, but few places are as diligent about refills as Riviera. In fact, the wait staff overall is extremely attentive, friendly, and pleasant.

The place is, at its heart, a sports bar so ambience doesn’t exactly scream “lovely brunch,” but sometimes we just need something reliable, inexpensive, and satisfying. Riviera Cafe is there to fulfill these needs and may be worth looking into as more than just a consolation prize for those who wind up shunned from the likes of neighborhood hotspots Diable Royale and Agave.