Great machine but up against the Silvia it’s no longer a viable choice. For the additional $75 or so you get much more in the Silvia.
Positive Product Points
Built like a tank, massive. Locomotive steam production (see Bad Boiler note below). Solenoid facilitates backflushing and pressure relief. Professional sized gruppo.
Negative Product Points
Drip tray is too small. Stupid steam wand mounting. Long time to change from brew to steam and back. Weirdly curvaceous “Euro-trash” styling that clashes hopelessly with all kitchen decor, everywhere.
The Rialto is a great second machine, an upgrade from a Krups or lower end Gaggia. I would not recommend this unit for the beginner unless she was fully prepared to spend the time required to learn how to make (almost) bar grade espresso. Unless your budget is really tightly fixed on the price of the Rialto, for the extra $50 to $100, there is no justifiable reason not to buy the Silvia instead.
I think I paid about $325 for this unit more than two years ago. Current price is closer to $400 including shipping. The construction is quite sound. All fittings are brass where heat and pressure are involved. All other fittings are heavy plastic. The wiring harness is well built and all electrical connections are industrial-grade.
As far we know, the Nancy/Rialto internals are exactly the same as the Silvia so I will (conveniently) refer you to those reviews for details. The filter group is the same Rancilio supplies with their commercial systems. It’s solid cast brass. Once this massive gruppo heats up, it stays hot. The one I have is coated with brown Teflon but you can buy it in chrome.
The brew head is a massive brass casting with some steel parts. Changing out the gasket is a simple task as long as it has not deteriorated to the point where it has bonded with the head. The shower head disperser drops out with a single stainless steel screw. Behind this disk is a machined steel water diverter that distributes the pressurized water jet over the top of the shower head. Another quality touch, I think.
Switching production modes is not a marketable feature of this machine. To change to steam mode requires at least 90 seconds, sometimes longer. Switching back to brewing takes about 40 seconds in order to flush and fill the boiler and re-prime the pump. Your microfoam will collapse before you can brew your ristretto and do your rosette or your crema will dissipate before you can create the chiffon.
The steam wand is a major gripe of mine. It is simply bent in the wrong shape to be used effectively. It was one of the first things I modified and it was a tough job. Like everything else on the Rialto, the steam wand is a thick piece of brass and it was not easy to coax it into a more efficient shape.
Bad Boiler: A little known “feature” of the Rialto (dunno about the Silvia) is that the boiler is lined with Teflon.
After less than a year, still within warranty, my Rialto started to spew flakes of Teflon from the boiler. I returned it to the distributor and they replaced the boiler under warranty but the schmucks blamed me for the damage so charged me for the labor. I was simply following their instructions for regular de-scaling. About a year later, my boiler has again started spewing flakes of Teflon.
I don’t know what to make of this. Sigh.
It looks like I might get my own Silvia after all.