BY ESTHER REISINGER
You know a restaurant is good when the host physically crosses the street and enters the wine bar where youʼre waiting for your table (per his kind suggestion), to fetch you because you missed your “table-is-ready” phone call. He doesnʼt seem the least bit annoyed at your negligence, so the only thing to do after such service is chug your 3/4 full peach martini and head back across Taylor Street to enjoy some truly decadent food in University Village.
Enter Davanti Enoteca: a cozy restaurant with rustic decor, happy diners, and perhaps a faint whiff of trufﬂe oil. It just feels right. Most of the dishes are fairly small and designed to be shared, which is perfect if youʼre indecisive like me. Iʼd recommend bringing more people so you can try more things. The prices are reasonable (pizza and pastas range from $9-$14; salads range from $7-$11 and larger plates $10-19) and they bring out everything as itʼs ready which makes for a perfectly paced meal.
Start your experience with a reasonably priced bottle of San Pietro Pinot Grigio (they sell all their wine at retail value + $7 corkage fee) and maybe some creamy ricotta cheese in a darling mason jar, served with honeycomb and warm toast. Iʼm pretty sure I would want this to be part of my last meal on earth. You could then move on to the trufﬂe egg toast, baked to cheesy gooey perfection and served atop a bed of crunchy asparagus, or you might choose the hearts of palm, a surprisingly kicky and super fresh salad with lemon and chili oil.
Every day they have a different ragu that is served with mascarpone polenta (could there be a better pairing of words than that?). The ragu is rich and stew-y and when placed atop the luscious polenta, it becomes the perfect comfort food. Each kind is wonderful, but Iʼm particularly fond of the pork cheek. They bring the dish to your table in two hot pots, and personally prepare it for you on a board, because it is so much better to eat from a board.
The focaccia di Recco is like the beautiful love child of a quesadilla and a grilled cheese sandwich, the Davanti burger leaves you wondering why we donʼt put bacon jam on everything and the roasted corn salad with walnuts, creamy goat cheese, arugula and mushrooms is an earthy delight. They have a fantastic selection of pizzas, pastas, and larger entree plates for those who don’t like to share. You can tell that the young Executive chef Jonathan Beatty (a Purple Pig veteran) is passionate about his work – itʼs consistently incredible.
The restaurant doesnʼt take reservations, so if you have to wait for your table, you could belly up to the bar and enjoy a martini made with house-infused vodka. If itʼs too crowded, you might just saunter across to street to Beviamo, the smart little wine bar that deﬁnitely deserves another mention, because itʼs sexy and dark, and has tasty drinks as well as the occasional live music or DJ. There you can enjoy some bubbly as an aperitif to prepare your stomach for the delicious main event.
Davanti Enoteca, 1359 W. Taylor Street. For more information visit call 312-226-5550 or visit Davanti on Twitter or Facebook. Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30 am – 11 pm; Fri-Sat 11:30 am – 12 am; Sun 11:30 am – 10 pm.