It’s easy to drink and be merry at the new Davanti Enoteca
Address: 12955 El Camino Real, Del Mar Highlands
Phone: (858) 519-5060
The Vibe: Social, casual, relaxed
Signature Dishes: Truffle Egg Toast, Mascarpone Polenta with Ragu of the Day, Focaccia di Recco, Davanti Burger, Uovo in Raviolo “San Domenico,” Crispy Pork Ribs, Yellow Peaches Salad
Open Since: 2012
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. daily
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
By Kelley Carlson
A lively neighborhood wine bar with a Mediterranean flavor has opened in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Davanti Enoteca (Davanti translates as “in the front [of]”) is rustic and casual. During the day, it’s bright and relaxed with guests sipping wine on the covered patio surrounded by lemon trees. As the sun sets, the lights dim and the atmosphere grows vibrant, enhanced by upbeat music.
Lined along one of the exposed brick walls are bottles of vino, 60 percent of them from Italy. The decor incorporates proverbs such as “Noi non potemo avere perfetta vita senza amici” (“We cannot have a perfect life without friends”).
The dining room is perhaps the ideal place to experience Davanti Enoteca, according to Assistant General Manager Jessica Wakely because the large windows are often open to permit a breeze, and it’s a vantage point for people-watching.
Before perusing the menu, customers may first want to order the Focaccia di Recco, a thin-baked, golden bread filled with soft cheeses with a piece of honeycomb on top, along with a fruity, dry glass of Gavi white wine from the Piemonte region.
With appetizer and glass in hand, it’s time to study the offerings, much of which incorporates local ingredients and is based on the cuisine of northern Italy. All five of the Davanti Enoteca establishments (including those in San Diego and Illinois) have a core menu, but some items are specific to the location.
One item at all sites is the Truffle Egg Toast with fontina and asparagus. There is also the seasonal Roasted Corn Salad tossed with walnuts, mushrooms, arugula, aged goat cheese and rosemary oil, and served hot.
Another dish of note: The Mascarpone Polenta and Ragu of the Day consists of a soft, white cornmeal blended with mascarpone cheese for a creamy consistency. The mascarpone is brought to the table in a pot, spread on a board, and then topped with a ragu such as braised pork shoulder with tomato sauce and chunky vegetables with a chianti wine reduction. It pairs well with a dark red Primitivo that is bold and fruity.
Special to the Del Mar list is the Crispy Pork Ribs topped with saba, bacon and hazelnuts and served with gorgonzola dolce coleslaw. The meat is so tender, it falls off the bone.
There’s also the Pappardelle con Pomodori San Marzano, available only when the sweet San Marzano tomatoes are in season locally. The “deconstructed” pasta entree contains thick, buttery, house-made noodles resting in basil pistou, along with sprinklings of pinenuts and shaved Parmigiano. Patrons often select reds such as the full-bodied Barbera d’Asti or the concentrated Rosso Piceno to accompany it.
Among the available desserts is the rich Caramel Budino, layers of pudding with chocolate cookie crumbles at the base.
To aid in the digestion of all this food, there is the Limoncello, a fizzy, smooth after-dinner liqueur that is popular in Naples and along the Amalfi Coast.
“We really pride ourselves on our servers,” Wakely said. “They know the menu front and back; they know every ingredient and dish.”
Guests who visit Davanti Enoteca between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays have the option of brunch, highlighted by the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar with nearly 100 ingredients and at least 50 types of hot sauces.
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Davanti Enoteca’s Gorgonzola Slaw Dressing
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