Brian Lan with Viva (left) and Cola.
Seafood with Sepia Sauce
East meets West at creative Mivila Pasta
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu
452-1, ZhongMei St, West Dist.
(See logo on Canal District Map, p.34)
Hours: 11 am-10 pm (closed Tuesdays)
Credit cards not accepted. No service charge. NT$150 minimum bill per person. English/Chinese menu.
Nothing represents Mivila Pasta's creative, pleasing pasta choices better than its gnocchi entrees. In a delightful cross-cuisine combination, owner Brian Lan swapped out the traditional Italian doughy dumplings for very similar Taiwanese "mian ge da" dumplings, commonly found in local eateries and snacks. Served Italian-style in dishes like Gnocchi with Pesto Basil Sauce (NT$200), these green, red and white colored, chewy dumplings work perfectly in their new role.
This is just one of the many menu items that has made Brian's relaxing, two-floor 70-seat eatery a hit with diners since 2009. The youthful-looking owner was first exposed to the restaurant business during a two-year stay in the U.S. state of Georgia, when he learned about various pasta sauces. After further experience at a friend's Taichung restaurant, decided to open his own place, named after three of his beloved long-haired dachshund dogs--Migo, Vivi and Cola--who are regulars at Mivila. A large percentage of his diners are young Taiwanese women (as shown by the many displayed photos of them and his/their dachshunds) who enjoy the food and soothing, all-white setting.
As Brian notes, many of his dishes incorporate some Asian elements, including Taiwanese and Thai flavors and ingredients. The majority are spaghetti dishes, with well over a dozen choices divided into topping categories like tomato or pesto (noted as "basil" on the menu) based sauces. Two popular items in these respective categories include Spaghetti with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce (NT$280) and Spaghetti with Scallops and Basil Sauce (NT$280), both fresh-made, savory dishes that appeal to a wide range of diners. Other non-traditional offerings include Spaghetti with Chicken and Curry (NT$250) and Seaood (or Chicken) in Thai-Style Chili Sauce.
Beyond pasta, there are good 10-inch pizzas (NT$210-280) with thin but chewy crusts and several calzone choices like Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce (NT$350). There are also four risotto options, including the strikingly black-colored, must-try Seafood with Sepia Sauce Risotto (NT$280), a delicious, moist mound of squid-ink infused rice with a variety of seafood. Adding NT$99 to any entree makes it a set meal with added soup, salad, drink and dessert, or one can add NT$30 for extra pasta or rice. In addition to main courses (which can be ordered all day), patrons can enjoy a sizable selection of coffees and teas (NT$65-75) and other beverages.
Such variety, mixed with creativity and interesting ingredients, helps ensure Brian and his dachshunds will continue to welcome many more customers.
Left: Spaghetti with Scallops and Basil Sauce
Right: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce
Left: Chinese-style "mian ge da" gnocchi in Italian-style sauce.
Right: Margherita Pizza