Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Davanti Enoteca, a sweet spot in Little Italy
If you make it past the hawker, you're in good hands
I know, it works, it must, otherwise why would they persist -- but that doesn't make hawkers any less annoying. I was strolling down the sidewalk in Little Italy, eager to finally see how my neighborhood location for Davanti Enoteca measured up to my experience at Davanti Del Mar. The only thing in my way was a loud man with an exaggerated and very fake Italian accent shouting at me using hackneyed clichés such as "Bella!" and "Buongiorno!" even though it was early evening.
But, once we got past the hawker (don't touch me, dude, and please, for the love of all things actually Italian, like my great-grandparents, knock it off with that terrible accent), David and I were led to the quiet, relaxing, olive-tree adorned patio in the back to dine al fresco. On the patio, the service was friendly and the lights among the olive tree branches twinkled; the relaxation we felt was reminiscent of our trips to Europe, though we were but a few miles away from home.
During the summer, we're always looking for a good place to chill, sip wine, and graze on artisinal cheese and cured meats, and in Davanti, we'd found exactly that. I was very happy when, one recent Wednesday evening, we returned to find no hawker at the door, just the wide entrance, a brief moment of waiting, and the appearance of a friendly face to lead us to our seats. When it became clear we were being led to an indoor seat, I requested we be rerouted to the patio, where there just happened to be a table for two right beside the olive tree.
I'd been craving the "toad in the hole" ever since our last visit, though the restaurant doesn't call it that. On the menu, it's "truffle egg toast, fontina, and asparagus." I get mine without the truffle part.
David had been craving another specialty -- the "focaccia di recco," which is thin dough filled with a ricotta-like cheese and served with honey to complement the savoriness.
We were happy we took our servers suggestion to sample the refreshing, perfect-for-eating-outdoors salad comprising heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced watermelon, avocado, and basil.
And now, just for your enjoyment, here are some shots from other things we have tasted in our few trips to Davanti Enoteca. We can't wait to get back soon, sip wine beneath the olive tree, and continue to browse the menu.