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La Dolce Vita

1851 Montgomery Highway (Hwy. 31), Hoover
Lunch and dinner. People love this tiny restaurant tucked away in a strip mall on Highway 31 south of the Galleria for its cozy charm. Reservations definitely recommended. 

Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2007 at 11:56AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments12 Comments

Reader Comments (12)

La Dolce Vita is one of those "best kept secrets" of Birmingham. It is small - 11 tables - and advertising seems to be by word of mouth. Staff is gracious, food consistently delicious, atmosphere very warm and romantic (Italian music complements the decor!) My husband and I agree that it is one of our favorites.

June 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa O'Brien

My sister was visiting from Kentucky and we wanted to go someplace memorable. Boy did we get it. The waiter (Dado) was terrific. He made the experience so much more enjoyable. He was attentive but not intrusive and very funny! He was also very helpful in helping us with our choices for dinner. The food was outstanding! We all had something different and they were all delicious from appetizers to dessert.
(March 2007)

June 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Wright

Yes! My wife and I had Dado as our server also. He was an outstanding server, and the food was AWESOME. I had Veal Marsala, and she had Eggplant Parmesean. Both were outstanding. Also, the 25 dollar bottle of Sauvignon Blanc was amazing... can't remember the name, but an excellent italian wine list! Will return soon.

August 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAJ Borden

My wife and I went to this restaurant on a lark. We had no idea we needed a reservation, especially at 5:45 on a Friday. The staff mentioned that many eat at the bar and we were welcomed to do the same. The food was outstanding in quality, freshness, preparation, presentation and flavor. The wine-list while not extensive covers the bases quite well and is actually not marked up as much as many local restaurants. This restaurant gets 4.75 stars on my 5 star scale. We'll be back soon.

August 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGG Brown

My favorite italian place in town. There is one waiter here who is a real pill, but the hostess and everybody else is very nice. Atmosphere is pleasant and cozy. The menu and food are simply outstanding. I have never been dissappointed in any part of my meal any of the times I have eaten here. I could go into details on the dishes, but you just need to go try it yourself.

You wouldn't know what a gem of a place lies inside when you see this place from the road, in a strip mall.

September 23, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbg

We showed up at 5PM, not knowing we needed a reservation. The place was empty, yet we were treated as though they had no place for us. They acted very put out. After discussing it forever, they seated us. The food was good, but since the place was still mostly empty as we were leaving, I was not impressed with the staff.

November 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

My favorite Italian restaurant in Birmingham. The home made bruschetta is EXCELLENT! Our service was perfect, our meals were served hot and you could tell the ingredients were fresh. Highly recommend this restaurant.

December 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJeffery

We ate with another couple last night (New Year's Eve), and while the hostesses, servers, and chef (who even came out of the kitchen to answer some of our questions) were very pleasant and helpful, the food was definitely sub-par – a serious disappointment. Everything we had was prepared with a heavy hand, in the old Italian-American style rather than the careful, minimalist style characteristic of authentic "cucina Italiana". The appetizer bruschetta (gratis and set at each table), completely unlike the tasty but delicate Italian original, was overwhelmed by minced raw garlic (while the Italians rub a bit of the raw stuff on onto the toasted bread) and onions. I had the Eggplant Cosentina. The distinctive flavor of the eggplant was obliterated by tons of watery tomato sauce; the chef chose to use cheap grocery-store sandwich slices of mozzarella; and there was way too much pancetta. Instead of the flavors complementing each other, they seemed to be fighting World War III. My wife had the Rack of Boar. The meat itself was tender and flavorful, but, once again, the sauce was over the top – it over-powered the meat (which is pretty hard to do with boar), and there was enough sauce to feed a family of four for a week. Sorry, but we don't like dropping $116 (which did include a $32 bottle of wine) + tip for meal for two that we could have prepared much better ourselves at home.

January 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDante Alighieri

My wife and I went to La Dolce Vita after having seen the high number of positive comments left by bhamdining.com readers above. We were not disappointed with the service or atmosphere. We felt like we were in a much more expensive restaurant than we actually were. We found the prices fairly reasonable since the entrees came with salads. (Mind you, we did not go for the wine, which my wife noticed started out at $42 for the least expensive Italian red). My one critique is the same that has been discussed above. The sauces were simply too rich for my tastes.

My wife's and my first taste of La Dolce Vita was the bruchetta, which the staff promptly brought to our table. It was extremely salty and garlic-y. Our next taste was a specialty appetizer--a portabella cap stuffed with lump crab. It was also very rich, to the point that the crab could not be readily detected. These small salt-bombs were minor in-and-of-themselves, however, and my wife and I ventured forward undaunted.

My real first clue that our food for the night might not be absolutely great was the salad. While the italian dressing was good, the lettuce was mostly common iceberg and the olives were black olives, possibly from a can. I would have expected at least some kalamata olives or something different that would have set the stage for a great meal. The salad was on par with any other mom-and-pop Italian restaurant.

The specials for the night sounded very good. They were also very pricey. Fortunately I thought to ask the cost of the saltimboca was before ordering. "I believe it is $35," opined Chris, our waiter. I passed and ordered the linguini alla clams with white sauce at a more reasonable $17, hoping for a lighter sauce. My wife ordered the penne with vodka sauce and sausage and shrimp at Chris's recommendation. When our dishes arrived, we initially thought that they were tasty, but, as you might guess by now, the sauces were extremely strong. After some rich and salty bruchetta and a rich and salty appetizer, I had reached my salt intake maximum for the night. My linguini sauce tasted very similar to the bruchetta (I think they may have actually used the bruchetta in the sauce). My wife had a similar opinion of her dish--lots of flavor, lots of salt. We must have consumed a gallon of water by the end of the night. The excellent wait staff managed to keep up and our glasses were never empty (and our table never had dirty dishes on them for more than a few moments).

Again, I cannot say enough about the service and atmosphere was very nice for a romantic evening. Unfortunately, however, I'd probably rate the food on par with someplace like Macaroni Grill. It was good, but it was not great. And it was extremely rich. It would be worth coming to La Dolce Vita for a special date or night out away from the kids, but I will not be putting it on my restaurant rotation. Of course, if you are someone who loves rich food and you don't care what the doctor tells you about your sodium intake, take this review with a grain of salt and go try it for yourself.

February 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

A friend and I went to La Dolce Vita last week. I had been years before but had not returned. I can't remember why except it had not left a lasting impression and normally when I like a restaurant I spread the word.

Our recent visit was very good. I will say I arrived at 5:30ish and did not have a reservation. They asked about that and made me one taking my name, number and party size. I was seated within 5 mins. They were not busy and at the time I was seated there was no one else in the restaurant side. My comment to the owners is if having a reservation is so vital then they need to put it on their website. It does not mention reservations at all much less if they are preferred or recommended.

Our waiter was knowledgable and the food was delicious. We both had one of the specials, the snapper with lump crab meat over risotto and asparagus. I substituted spinach for the asparagus. I agree with a previous post that the bruchetta had a stong flavor of garlic and salt but the bread and bruchetta were good over all. The salad was a salad and was a surprise since we didn't know it came with the meal.

For dessert we ordered the tiramusu & a frozen chocolate mouse with a frozen cream inside. Both were good but not sure they were worth $8. The tiramusu was in a martini glass.

Overall La Dolce Vita was very good. I will be back and can't remember why it didn't make an impression the first time around.

This is not a place that you frequent unless you want to spend a lot of money. I didn't have any alcohol but the special for snapper was $35 and that along with a coke and dessert was around $50 not including tip.

It should be for special occasions at those prices.

March 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobbie

We visited La Dolce Vita tonight with friends who had purchased gift certificates through an on-line advertising promotion. We were excited to give a "new" (to us) Italian restaurant a try. My family loves to indulge in good Italian cuisine, much of it prepared in our own home, so we decided to see how La Dolce Vita compared.
We had made reservations for dinner and were seated promptly. However, we were in for a LONG wait, nonetheless. We all quickly settled on our dinner choices, but the waitress, (once she finally) appeared, announced that she would be "right back". We were already ready to order, but we decided to give her the moment. A full fifteen minutes later, she finally returned. We waited almost a half hour, total, just for our order to be taken. After ordering, we sat with empty glasses waiting...and waiting...and waiting. The bruschetta finally arrived. Our group tends to love garlic and very strong flavors, so we enjoyed the bruschetta, but it would certainly be overpowering for the taste of many. The bread arrived and was fantastic. When the salads arrived, we decided that the dressings were some of the best we'd ever tried, but the salads were, unfortunately, rather small. Even my picky and appetite-of-a-bird teen daughter commented that they were small.
While waiting...and waiting...and waiting...for our entrees, we sat shivering as the restaurant was extremely cold. Despite the fact that we were all donning sweaters for the evening, each of the ladies also wore coats during dinner. When the entrees finally arrived, my husband commented that his penne was cooked perfectly "al dente" (he had the Penne alla vodka). My eggplant parmesan was about what I'd expect to get at Olive Garden--not bad, but not special, either. The server had gotten my daughter's order wrong, although my daughter was a trooper about it (of course, we were ultimately charged for the upgrade my daughter DID NOT order and had to ask for the bill to be corrected.)
In spite of the poor service and the eternal waits, the food was good and we would probably have become occasional repeat customers had the chef not arrived and made a complete ass of himself. When we went to present our gift certificates, he declined to honor them. That would have been fine, had he not been a total jerk and made a scene in front of several other tables full of customers. I don't recall forcing this man to participate in an on-line sale and it's really not my problem that he chose to do so. Someone might want to let this guy know that the purpose of such promotions is to bring in new customers. Although you don't make a profit on the first visit, you make profits on the return business that ensues if you make a good impression. He certainly won't have to worry about that...no repeat customers in our crew. The food was good, but certainly not stellar enough to make up for a chef who acts like a petulant child throwing a tantrum. The wait time was far too long, the service was abyssmal, the restaraunt was freezing, and the chef was a total jerk. The food was good, but certainly not THAT good. I'll have a glass of nice wine at home next time and I'll happily patronize another establishment. So, chef, here's some food for thought to feed your children on: acting like a jerk=lost business.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex and Lee

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