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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A Nice Effort, All Things Considered

June 23, 1989|RUTH REICHL

We went to the opening night of Riva in Loew's Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (213) 458-6700, with my friend Sam, who used to live in the building that lies between the hotel and the beach. He seemed to find the idea of a luxury hotel here hilariously funny. "Wait until they find out what it's like down here on the Fourth of July," he chuckled. He laughed even harder when he realized that they were calling the seafood appetizer a shore harvest. "Would you want to eat anything harvested from these shores?" he asked.

Given all that, you have to give the hotel points for trying. This is an appealing menu featuring Italian seafood, and an appealing wine list featuring American and Italian wines. We had a couple of respectable salads, a risotto chock full of seafood and some decently grilled fish. Service was pleasant and only slightly slow, and prices were about what you'd expect from a hotel (high). The restaurant doesn't really have much of a view of the beach, but Sam didn't think that was a problem. "Given this particular beach," he said, "I'd call it a blessing."

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