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Schussing down India t’other night.

Happy hour crowds starting to fill the heated sidewalk patios. Had a Christmassy feel about it.



But what caught my eye was this sign on a sidewalk sandwich board.


Chef Christopher Verotudela with the good news

“Proud to be named one of 50 best new restaurants in USA. From Bon Appétit 2012,” it says.


Wow. The glossy food magazine. Nearest thing to the Michelin Guide in America. This sandwich board is outside Davanti Enoteca, the newish Italian eatery (1655 India Street, Little Italy, 619-237-9606) near The Princess pub.

“We’re #16 of the 50 best,” says Christopher Verotudela. He’s the chef de cuisine here, taking a moment outside for some fresh air. “They chose four in California, just one in San Diego. Us! Pretty cool.”

Bon Appétit loved Davanti's "spot-on salumi, small plates, and updated mains, all based on simple and fresh ingredients."

The company’s head chef and founder, Scott Harris, has had a spectacular ride in the last 20 years. He has opened 20 restaurants around Chicago and more back east under the “Mia Francesca” name.

And more look set to come to California.

Already, that l know of, there’s this place, plus a Mia Francesca in Del Mar (12955 El Camino Real, 858-519-5055), and right next to it, another Davanti Enoteca (858-519-5060).

Seems Davanti Enoteca is a variation on their basic Italian country food theme, a “more contemporary take” on what they serve at Mia Francesca’s.

Part of what Bon Appétit loved was the happy hour here. And specially something called "cacio e pepe."

So I ask Chef Chris about it. He says I gotta try it, basically spaghetti and cheese and "pepe," pepper.

Sounds boring but Italians say if it's done fresh, and with the best pecorino cheese, this Italian "mac'n cheese" is a classic. Certainly went down well with the Bon Appétit tasters.

Costs $6 during HH.

'Course I see on a menu that $6 would also buy an HH burger, and they have white anchovies with celery and “pecorino sardo” (turns out that’s a sheep milk cheese from Sardinia), plus “leccini olives” for $4.

I’d go for that, and the cacio e pepe, just to see what the magazine's raving about. Ten bucks, but worth it.

But, got a bus to catch. So, guess I’ll have to come back, next time I have a Hamilton and a half-hour to spare.

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