Chicago: Davanti Enoteca

I'm the type of person who usually likes to have my day planned in advance, but by Monday morning, I still had no idea where to take my best friend for lunch.  This was problematic because getting anywhere in Chicago from Hyde Park typically takes 1 to 1.5 hours by public transit, which meant we needed to leave quite early in order for us to eat leisurely and still allow me enough time to get back home to prepare for my seminar at 4:00pm.

It is astounding how difficult it is to decide on a restaurant, especially given how many good options there are in the city.  There are just so many factors to take into consideration: distance/travel time, price, menu, personal mood, suitability for two-person dining, etc.

After a lot of dallying on Yelp, my best friend suggested Davanti Enoteca, which was convenient because I'd been wanting to check it out for a while now:

We managed to decide on a restaurant and still arrive just half an hour after it opened for business.  This just goes to show that I needn't have worried:

Davanti's menu is designed for sharing.  Our server was very helpful in giving us an idea of how much food we should order and also very helpful in recommending her particular favorites.

My best friend and I decided to split a pizza and a pasta to start with and see how we felt about ordering more as we went along.

We started with the pizza della terra:

The pizza board was placed on top of a giant empty tomato can (which made me laugh) and came topped with foraged mushrooms, braised leeks, taleggio, and truffle oil.  The truffle oil really made the pizza. 

At our server's recommendation, we went with the uovo in raviolo "San Domenico":

Our server's description of the dish as "a giant raviolo with the sauce wrapped inside" intrigued us.  Lo and behold, that's exactly what it was.

The minute we broke into the raviolo, gooey egg yolk oozed out:

While the sight of a broken egg yolk was discomfiting to me, even I had to agree that in this case, it was a good thing.  Combined with the egg yolk, the ricotta and spinach filling really did create an amazing "sauce":

We ended up wiping the plate clean with our pizza crusts.

After finishing off the pizza and the raviolo, we looked at each other and mutually agreed that another dish wouldn't hurt.  We decided that the mascarpone polenta sounding more interesting.

A server came to our table armed with a wooden board and two small pots.  One contained the polenta, which he spooned onto the board:

A well was made in the polenta, into which our server poured the ragu of the day (tomato and sausage):

The final product was quite visually appealing:

I haven't had good experiences with polenta in the past, but this one really changed my opinion of it.  The polenta was creamy and buttery and mixed so well with the flavorful ragu.  The sausage in the ragu was delicious and luckily for me, I got to eat it all.  (There are definite benefits to eating out with a vegetarian best friend.)

I really enjoyed my meal at Davanti.  I would very much like to return again to try the focaccia, which I've heard a lot about but didn't get to try.  Next time, I think I will come with a larger group so that I can sample more things off the menu.  Gotta be strategic, man.  Make use of your friends.

Davanti Enoteca
1359 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-5550


  1. Wow! What a meal, it's been a while since I've been a place like that I drooled over everything from the pizza to the polenta, yum! Thanks for brightening up this dull rainy day, so glad I found your site I am now following and looking forward to more beautiful photography =]


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