Vegetable frittata at Davanti Enoteca (Jason Little/For RedEye )
1359 W. Taylor St. 312-226-5550
Rating: !!!! (out of 4)
Brunch hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Reservations: Not accepted
I have yet to meet anyone who’s been to Davanti Enoteca for dinner and didn’t come back raving about the food. So when this rustic Italian wine bar, added to Taylor Street in September, announced its brunch debut last week, I excitedly rearranged my weekend plans to get an early taste.
Menu pointers: At first glance, the brunch menu looks a lot like the dinner menu, with antipasti, pasta and pizza dishes; it’s the “eggs” section where many of the new brunch dishes reside. The arugula-topped frittata bianca ($8) with seasonal veggies is sure to shift throughout the summer as different produce is ready; our version was packed with deliciously smoky wood-grilled mushrooms. Other dishes include eggs with sausage, roasted grapes and balsamic-braised onions (uovo con salsiccia, $8) and tomato sauce-topped baked eggs with grilled bread for dipping (uova amatriciana al forno, $7).
I’m still thinking about: The uovo barzotta ($9) a platter of perfection that pairs potato hash and cubes of luscious pork belly with avocado slices and hollandaise-topped poached eggs.
Sweet stuff: Hiding innocently in the pizza section of the menu, the calzone di frutta ($10) is a crusty sugar-kissed pocket of dough with steamy cinnamon-y apples and plump cherries inside. A generous dish of mascarpone whipped cream for topping was so simultaneously light and rich that it took all my composure not to lick the leftovers from the bowl. There’s also a second brunch calzone with provolone, potatoes, sausage and scrambled eggs inside, but we can’t imagine passing up the sweet version on our next visit.
Day drinking: Brunch cocktails stick close to tradition, with a choose-your-own booze (vodka, gin, whiskey or tequila) bloody mary and a traditional bellini ($9), plus the Leonardo ($10), a variation combining prosecco with strawberry juice.
May I suggest … going in a group? Unlike some shared-plates restaurants where dishes come up short, portions are quite generous here. A table of two can handle just two or three dishes, which seems like an injustice considering how large the menu is. The more friends you bring, the more dishes you can try.
Is it lunchtime yet? The menu’s abundance of tasty antipasti, pasta and pizza has kept me from trying the Davanti burger ($10) on past visits, but I’ve heard nothing but raves for this patty dressed with bacon jam, roasted garlic mayo and cheese curds.
Bottom line: No question, Davanti is a notch above other new Italian brunches we’ve tried lately, such as The Florentine. Opening weekend crowds were very light, a stark contrast to the elbow-to-elbow dinner scene. If you hate to wait, plan to go soon. It’s only a matter of time before word gets out that brunch from chef Jonathan Beatty at this Little Italy newcomer is as tasty as dinner.