Saturday, April 23, 2011

Davanti Enoteca

Wow, we finally made it to a new(ish) place in Chicago. Reading the new Chicago Magazine 2011 best new restaurants finally made me get on my horse to check out Davanti. Erica somehow had never ventured down Taylor street before so we were killing many birds with a single stone. I also had not been down Taylor in a while and I am thoroughly impressed with some of the recent additions. Davanti is a great addition with a great atmosphere and popular scene. The bar is right in front, next to the wood fire oven but still at the entry of a narrow but deep restaurant. They don't take reservations so when we arrived at a popular time on Wednesday night the wait for two was over an hour. We choose to sit at the bar and eat our meal immediately (I'm not a huge fan of waiting long for tables). You get the full menu, great service and quick drinks. I also enjoy the people watching experience by the front door and other bar patrons. Finally, something I loved and noticed right away was the amazing soundtrack playing in the restaurant. For all I knew they stole my iPod and hit shuffle because I owned 95% of the songs played and could sing the rest (Erica prevented my from singing anything though I did tell her the name of each song). 

While I loved everything about the restaurant, the some of the food did lag behind.It's designed as small sharable plates (shocker!), which is fine by us so we could try different dishes. The menu is well organized and well priced into starters, salads, pastas, main dishes, etc.  We ordered asparagus, burrata on toast, polenta with pork shoulder (a special recommended), rigatoni and sausage and a cheese pizza. If it sounds like a lot of food for two people, it kind of was. The pizza is large so we only ate half. 

So, what happened with the food. Our grilled asparagus was good, and one of the better dishes of the night, but still kind of simple. They were cooked well and I loved the sauce. The burrata in a jar was cool, and the toast was delicious. But I was kind of dissapointed in the flavor of the silky cheese. There was plenty of olive oil but not enough seasoning. The best dish by far was from the "board" section: Mascarpone polenta + ragu of the day (pork shoulder). The polenta was delicious and the pork melted in our mouths. A wonderful dish. At the same time we ate the rigatoni and sausage. It was rather disappointing because the pasta was clearly "al dente" (not my preferred) and the sausage was kind of tough. The pizza came out last and was not needed. We tried it and finished half but it was uninspiring. We've had better thin crust, wood fired pizza in the city but this wasn't bad just a little boring.We opted to skip dessert.

I enjoyed many aspects of the restaurant such as the ambiance, music and service. The polenta and pork shoulder was a fantastic dish and if they all tasted that good it would have been an amazing meal. Unfortunately the rest of our food was rather ho-hum and a little boring (especially for Italian). I think Davanti is a great addition to Taylor St and would be a fun place to grab drinks and snack.

Davanti Enoteca on Urbanspoon

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