Davanti Enoteca - Carmel Valley

>> Thursday, September 13, 2012

Date of Dining: 9/9/2012
Price: $7-11 appetizers, $12-19 plates (3 order per person probably)
Location: 12955 El Camino Real, San Diego, 92130

The Quick Bit:

+ well-prepared pastas
+ interesting and well prepared salads
Δ entrees could be stronger
Δ portions of plates could be larger

When I last visited a Scott Harris restaurant, I was less than pleased due to both the hostess and the entrees. Since it is now long past the "3 month window" for new restaurants, I returned next door to visit the other Scott Harris restaurant in the complex. From a quick glance, Davanti seemed fairly full while Mia Francesca was nearly empty - I guess the three months didn't improve the outlook others had of Mia Francesca.
I dined with a group of four and we decided to just order a bunch of items and share them all.


chicken liver pate
The chicken liver pate came with some bread and appeared to be topped with boiled red cabbage. While I enjoyed the pate, others at the table were less than thrilled. The pate definitely had a strong offal quality to it, but I found that the flavor had a lot of depth and was very enjoyable.
ricotta + honeycomb
The ricotta and honeycomb went over much better with the table. The ricotta was finished even before the bread was eaten. The honeycomb was a true piece of a local honeycomb and had an amazing freshness and quality to the flavor. It really brought up the overall quality of the ricotta.
4 for $20 - prosciutto di parma, salame tartufato, taleggio, gorgonzola
For $5 increments, a board of 3, 4, or 5 selections can be made. The prosciutto was the highlight of the plate. It contained a very delicate texture but was supported with a really nice cure that gave a great depth and complexity to the flavor. While the salame tartufato was supposed to have truffle, I almost felt the curing of the prosciutto had more of the truffle quality than the salame. The taleggio had a nice earthy balance to the rest of the meats, but didn't end up pairing well because the other meats were great on their own. Similarly, the gorgonzola was out of balance when compared to the meats on the plate.
shaved brussels sprout - pecorino parmesan vinaigrette
While this salad looks simple, it actually packed quite the punch. The sharpness of the pecorino and parmesan really complemented the bitterness of the brussels sprouts, and the entire dish had a nice earthy feel to it.
roasted corn - walnuts, aged goat cheese, arugula, wild mushrooms
This corn salad was the best appetizer of the night. The sweetness of the corn was contrasted with the earthy taste of the mushroom and the bitterness of the arugula. The almonds added a nice crunch as well. I could have eaten three of these by myself.


focaccia di recco - honeycomb
If Davanti has a signature dish, this is it. This is basically two flabreads that are sandwiching some cheese, and honey can be rubbed on top for the final product. Had we not ordered the ricotta appetizer, this would have been amazing. As it was, it was still extremely good, but was almost a repeat of the ricotta. This dish was less sweet than the appetizer, so there was more complexity in both texture and the depth of the cheese flavors. 
paccheri can salsiccia e pomodori al forno - giant rigatoni, sausage, tomato, parmigiano
The rigatoni were cooked almost too al dente, but this ended up working out because they really needed to stand up the spiciness of the sausage. The sausage was a typical hot italian sausage, but was cooked well to complement the entire dish.
riccio di mare e granchio - linguine, sea urchin, crab
This was the best dish of the night. The sea urchin really integrated well with the linguine and made the pasta taste of the urchin. This was complemented by the succulent sweetness of the crab. This is another dish where I could have eaten three by myself because it was so good.
bistecca con ravanelli e funghi - grilled hanger steak, roasted radish, grilled oyster mushroom, saba, salsa verde
While I thought the presentation of this dish was incredible, I ended up thinking it was just so-so. The balsamic on the plate overwhelmed the other flavors, and the dish had a prevailing sweetness to the entire dish. Even the salsa verde was not enough to stand up to the sweetness of the balsamic.


I was much happier with my visit to Davanti Enoteca than Mia Francesca. There were some great dishes and the menu contains a great variety of dishes. Some of the dishes were real home runs, while others have a lot of work required. I would definitely return to Davanti to try some other dishes in the future. We also had no issues with the service.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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