The end of 2009 saw a cornucopia of restaurant closings—both scheduled and unscheduled—but before the big shutter round-up later today, some news from Fillmore Street, where Vivande closed over the long weekend. The Italian eatery had been a neighborhood fixture for 29 years, but its time has come, thanks to a combination of the recession and a 2007 auto accident that left its chef, Carlo Middione, sans the senses of taste and smell. In a lengthy, teary goodbye letter, Vivande bid its neighborhood farewell.
The goodbye note:
NEW YEAR 2010
After 29 years on Fillmore Street, Vivande Porta Via closed business for good at the end of 2009. Carlo Middione opened Vivande in 1981, as a classic Italian gastronornia. Centuries before restaurants were born in Europe, community kitchens purveyed freshly cooked foods for people to take home to eat. At first Vivande offered artisanal Italian food for take-out and catering; as well as Italian ingredient foods and wines; then gradually added restaurant service with first lunch, and finally dinner. Vivande was especially known for artisanal fresh pasta dishes recreating authentic regional Italian recipes.
The decision to close Vivande was based on several factors, but the chief cause is that Chef Carlo Middione lost his sense of taste and smell in an auto accident in Spring of 2007. It was hoped that the problem might improve with time, but it has not. Instead it has effectively interrupted Carlo's proprietary role of tasting and evaluating everchanging food ingredients and monitoring dishes and wines for the Vivande menu.
Ever since 2007 this has prevented Vivande from offering Carlo's special dinners of authentic Italian regional wines and foods for which Vivande has been known since the '80s; as well as other proprietary special events and menu programs. Quite simply, Carlo's role cannot be replace; Vivande therefore cannot withstand the current recession, as it has withstood several recessions since opening in 1981.
Carlo Middione will continue consulting and teaching cooking and developing foods which employ his sharp skills and extensive technical knowledge and experience, while he also pursues methods of rehabilitating his sense of smell and taste. There is no known cure for this type of damage to the olfactory nervous system, but therapies may be found to develop new avenues of perception.
Carlo and his wife, Lisa, will miss being on Fillmore Street. They have rich memories of the good times at Vivande; and they will will miss Vivande's customers among whom they have found many warm friends.