The Short Course:
To Avoid a Wait: Visit during an off-peak time or order takeout or delivery.
Noise Level: Average.
Bathroom Amenities: Clean but no changing table.
High Chairs: Yes.
Kids Menu: Yes.
Anything Healthy for Kids: Yes.
Food Allergy Concerns: Gluten-free pasta available. Speak with your server about specific allergy concerns.
Dining with children can be, um, an adventure. From finicky taste buds to short attention spans to rambunctious behavior, eating in public with kids is not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, the allure of a meal cooked by someone else and zero dishes to clean up is certainly well worth it. Despite Findlay’s impressive variety of restaurants, we were intrigued to visit Ada to give Viva Maria a try.
We arrived on a gloomy, rainy evening and easily found Viva Maria housed in a large, historic building known as “the Armory.” A simple entry opens into a cavernous and fun space that includes a large stage that hosts live musicians on Friday and Saturday evenings. White lights created a warm, festive atmosphere while also making the vast building feel inviting and welcoming. Pieces by local artists line the walls along with notices for upcoming restaurant events.
Viva Maria’s extensive menu features both American and Italian favorites with choices from onion rings, subs, wings, philly cheesesteaks, both red and white pizzas, Strombolis, calzones and an impressive assortment of pasta dishes. We chose to mix-and-match our selections to get a feel for the menu (also, I just really love both carbs and fried food). We chose garlic cheese bread and a mixed appetizer basket which included pizza logs, potato wedges, mozzarella sticks and onion rings.
The garlic bread featured open-faced French bread smothered with mozzarella and sprinkled with herbs. The soft, buttery, garlicky inside and crisp edges made the bread irresistible for our five-year-old, Mae. The appetizer basket offers some standard choices (including homemade onion rings!) plus the interesting addition of a “pizza log.” This unusual treat featured pepperoni and cheese wrapped inside a crisp eggroll shell.
Entrees and more
We finished sampling the appetizers and moved on to our main meals. The kids kept to their Italian roots with our nine-year-old, Leland, picking a calzone while Josephine, our eight-year-old, chose spaghetti and meatballs. Mae, meanwhile, chose a thin crust bacon and pineapple pizza. I dined on eggplant parmigiana while my husband Jeremy selected chicken carbonara with a side of Italian sausage.
Our food arrived hot and looked beautiful. Generous servings of pasta weighed down the dishes while the ends of the calzone extended beyond the plate. Joey practiced her noodle twirling and sampled the meatballs. It should be noted that, at home, Jeremy and Joey make our meatballs from scratch, so she has a keen taste for them. Joey demonstrated her approval of Viva Maria’s meatballs by devouring the first one in two bites before moving on to another!
Jeremy and I are excited anytime we find a calzone made with ricotta cheese anywhere outside of New York. Apparently we passed that same enthusiasm on to Leland who eagerly dug into the enormous (and ricotta fortified) calzone. Jeremy reported that his pasta carbonara was delicious, an ample serving of pasta smothered in a creamy sauce with pieces of bacon throughout. The grilled chicken gave the dish depth and a subtle yet delicious smoky flavor. The Italian sausage also suited Jeremy’s exacting standards for Italian fare. Like the other dishes, my meal featured a generous portion of pasta and several slices of breaded eggplant smothered in cheese. Though the breading lost its crispness beneath the cheese, it offered excellent flavor that went well with the spaghetti.
Sweet treats, perfect ending
It’s rare for us to experience cannoli outside of family gatherings in New York, so despite our full bellies, we were compelled to order two to sample! The kids couldn’t remember having them so Jeremy and I were excited to share the deliciousness. The cannoli were presented beautifully with chocolate sauce drizzled across the top. The sweet ricotta cheese filling offered just a hint of cinnamon. The girls licked the plates clean!
We also ordered tiramisu, another traditional Italian dessert, featuring ladyfingers soaked in rum, layered with sweetened cream filling, then dusted with cocoa. The result is a blend of big flavors: bitter coffee, rich chocolate, and rum all balanced with the sweet whipped cream. As with their dinner portions, Viva Maria went all out on the tiramisu which made it too intense for the kiddos. Jeremy and I, however, were more than happy to indulge in the delicacy!
We ended the evening with a rainy drive back to Findlay past rolling farmland. Getting away from the familiar streets and restaurants of Findlay proved to be as refreshing as it was delicious. Thankfully, with such generous portions, we were able to enjoy the delicious flavors of Viva Maria the next day as well, which will have to suffice until we’re able to visit Ada again.
Viva Maria | 124 East Buckeye Ave., Ada
567-940-8482 | “Viva Maria’s” on Facebook
Open Monday-Wednesday: 4pm-10pm
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: 10:30am-10pm
Features live music on Friday and Saturday nights, 6-9pm.