davanti enoteca has been receiving rave reviews after rave reviews since it opened its doors. and hence it had joined my wishlist since last year.. however, i had to cancel my plans to go there, not once but twice. until finally, i had the pleasure of trying davanti's delicious flavors about a month ago.
located in little italy, davanti enoteca is a cozy rustic yet modern restaurant with strong italian influence in its decor. there is a bar on the left as you walk into the restaurant and then you could see the chefs at work at the open kitchen which i thought was very exciting. some of the italian touches that i thought were cool were the wall covered in wooden slats from wine cases and instead of using a pizza stand, they substitue with big san marzano tomato cans. the back dining room is adorned by shelves of wine bottles. there are also outdoor and rooftop seating which you could request for (when the weather isn't crazy cold).
xy and i decided to share two appetizers and had an entree each..
vasi :: mini mason jar with tuscan toast | ricotta & honey comb ($6)
i like food in mini mason jars.. when served, a cube of honey comb came on the side and the staff actually mixed the honey comb into the ricotta cheese at the table. the ricotta was smooth and creamy with the flavor of honey streaked through it served atop a buttered and crispy toast. i really liked the light flavors and was a good way to start the meal.i think i would love to try the chicken liver pate for a more savory option next time :)
antipasti :: truffle egg toast . fontina . asparagus ($8)
xy had never had truffle before so this was an interesting first experience for him. i love the flavor of truffle but i thought it was somewhat too strong. i love the mild fontina melted beautifully topped which accentuated the richness of runny yolks nestled in a nest in the middle of a thickly cut toast. the toast was placed upon a bed of roasted asparagus that helped mellow the richness of it. xy really liked it while i wished there was some kind of citrus/balsamic to cut through the richness. but we still finished every last bite on the plate.
paste :: riccio di mare e granchio | linguine . sea urchin . crab ($13)
my first experience with sea urchin... at least as far as i am aware of. this was the main reason why i wanted to come here. if you love seafood, i think you would enjoy this. it was a generous amount of crab which contributes its natural sweetness in contrast to the ocean flavor/saltiness of the sea urchin sauce that clings lovingly to the linguine. it didn't disappoint in terms of flavors but just a tad oily. the pasta was cooked just right with just a good amount of bite. delish!
boards :: mascarpone polenta + ragu of the day | pork shoulder with san marzano tomatoes and porcini mushroom ($13)
i hate to admit it but this dish probably stole the show that day because i didn't order it (xy's entree) . they brought out a board and two sauce pans - one with the polenta and the other containing ragu to be served at the table. the pork shoulder was melt-in-your-mouth tender which was braised in a stew that had several layers of flavor from the sweet and tart san marzano tomatoes blended with the earthiness of porcini mushrooms. very hearty with a good balance of seasoning. then they paired it with creamy mascarpone polenta which made the dish amazing. i'd go as far to say that this is one of the best things i've ever had. not to be missed! i loved my dish but i was secretly wishing i had ordered this for myself. outstanding!
davanti enoteca has done a tremendous job standing out in the midst of all the other italian rival restaurants in little italy. that, in itself, is a testament to its intricate italian flavors with a modern twist. yum! can't wait for my return visit :)
disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others