Davanti Enoteca

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Photograph: Brendan Lekan

Davanti Enoteca

Photograph: Martha Williams

Davanti Enoteca

Photograph: Martha Williams

Davanti Enoteca

Photograph: Martha Williams

Rooftop at Davanti Enoteca

Little Italy
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Facts that hint at Davanti Enoteca being the second coming of the Purple Pig: (1) a menu listing lots of shared things to spread on toast (ricotta with honeycomb, chicken liver pâté), (2) an entire page of the menu dedicated to salumi and cheese, (3) an executive chef, Jonathan Beatty, plucked right from the Purple Pig’s line, (4) Scott Harris, Davanti’s owner, who is also a partner in Purple Pig.

And yet when I ordered the uovo in raviolo (pictured), I was reminded more of the Bristol, which has become fairly renowned for its own take on the dish. I’ve recommended the Bristol’s raviolo a few times myself. But now I’m attached to Davanti’s version. The pasta, encasing ricotta, spinach and egg, is more delicate, and the whole thing reaches astronomical levels of decadence thanks to the heaping spoonful of brown butter that tops it. Following the raviolo, I dug into Davanti’s focaccia and suddenly found myself thinking of another Mediterranean spot: Avec. The thin, pockmarked round of crisp, oil-rich bread, filled with a thin schmear of cheese, was almost identical to Avec’s in looks. But it’s crunchier and much less heavy with the truffle oil.

That’s not to say nothing at Davanti surprised me. I was surprised when the grilled romaine salad arrived as advertised—with lightly charred edges—but dead cold. (It would surely be better warm.) It was also a shock when a mason jar of burrata turned out to hold cheese that was more stringy than luscious. Happier surprises: the way crushed pink peppercorn popped against the canvas of fresh shavings of heart of palm; the way the cacio pepe struck a balance of sharp black pepper and stringent pecorino; the way the formaggio sottobosco, essentially a cheesecake parfait, came off as sophisticated and…light.

And then there’s the grilled swordfish, cooked with precision and set over a bed of roasted brussels sprouts. Luigi Negroni, a chef and partner at Davanti who doted on me on one of my later visits (he clearly had me fingered as a critic, though I think he thought I was Phil Vettel), came up and asked me how I liked it. I told him I liked it very much, and commented that there seemed to be some sort of chili powder in the sprouts.

“Oh yeah, there’s some heat in there,” he said.

There’s heat everywhere in this restaurant, actually. It’s not the Purple Pig (or Avec, or the Bristol). But it’ll be almost as hot.

Venue name: Davanti Enoteca
Address: 1359 W Taylor St

Cross street: at Loomis St
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10pm; Fri 11:30am-midnight; Sat 11am-midnight; Sun 11am-10pm
Transport: El stop: Blue to Racine. Bus: 9, 12, 60, 157.
Price: Average share plate: $9
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