Exceptionally prepared foods reign at Riva Steak & Seafood
Photos by Christopher Tierney
RIVA STEAK & SEAFOOD
2200 River Road, Council Bluffs
Tucked away in the esteemed Club 38 at Ameristar Casino & Hotel in Council Bluffs is a relatively new restaurant that offers a unique, intimate dining experience. Riva Steak & Seafood, which seats up to 36, offers traditional dishes that use the freshest ingredients prepared with an uncommon flare. Under the direction of Executive Chef Andreas Hartmann, Riva can be considered a dining destination all on its own.
Originally from Austria, Andreas completed three apprenticeships as a chef, butcher, and pastry chef. He traveled extensively throughout Europe as a chef, working in Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and Egypt. He also served as Executive Chef for both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Eventually he made his way to the U.S., first in New York City and later across the country at places such as the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and the Camelback Marriott in Phoenix. He was asked to join Pinnacle Entertainment and worked for a number of properties. He came to Ameristar more than two years ago, overseeing all of its restaurants, including Riva.
Ameristar previously included a larger steak restaurant, but Andreas said they wanted a more intimate, upscale experience. He incorporates farm to table items, and brings in fresh seafood, such as shrimp from the Carolinas, fresh lobster from Maine, and Northwest wild caught salmon, which they smoke tableside in a hickory-infused glass dome. The menu, which is updated monthly, also includes aged USDA top choice steaks that are either char-grilled or cast iron seared. Burgundy braised beef short ribs, a fried bone-in pork chop, and pan seared duck are also available.
Andreas said they don’t try to be overly adventurous with the menu, but rather prepare familiar food exceptionally well. “You can get a pork chop many places, but you can’t get it with the made-to-order fresh orange cranberry sauce that we serve with it,” he said. Another example is the shrimp cocktail, which is cooked using the sous vide water oven method to ensure freshness through a controlled temperature. Pasta is always made fresh to order, and the dressing used on the Caesar salad served in a parmigiano reggiano crisp shell is a recipe that Andreas personally created. He’s also used his grandmother’s artisan bread recipe before. Even the desserts have a twist, such as the Crème Brule that is served as three separate flavors: vanilla, pistachio, and coffee.
Other touches that set Riva apart are the individual drip coffee served at the table, the sealed menus printed in-house for each guest, the cocktail menu housed within an old-fashioned book at each table, and the wine list, which is printed on wine bottles. “Since we print everything ourselves, we can update the menu and wine list as often as needed, that way we keep everything fresh,” Andreas said. The wine list offers a variety of domestic and international wines, some that will be familiar to customers and others that might appeal to those looking for a new or different option.
Reservations are recommended, and the restaurant is available to small groups/parties. With its Four Diamond rating, Andreas said Ameristar makes a great overnight getaway that’s close to Omaha. “We have so much more than just gambling here,” he said. “There’s so much to offer, whether it’s entertainment, casual or sports bar dining, breakfast, lunch, and upscale dining. Riva is worth the short drive just to experience something done differently and done really well.”