To be honest, it is very rare that I get excited about Italian food. While most people love pasta, I would much rather eat meat and mashed potatoes or tacos. However, I may have found a place that has changed my mind. For a friend’s birthday, he requested Italian food. I went on a Google search, researched tons of restaurants, narrowed the list down to two, and told him to pick. I am not sure if it is because he is 100% Italian, or if he just got lucky, but his selection was “on-point.” Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about how I am going to explain the food to you.
The winning restaurant was Davanti Enoteca on Taylor Street in Little Italy. Personally, I feel like a large percentage of Chicago restaurants are starting to follow the “shared plates” style. Food is delivered as it is ready, everything is meant to be shared, and you order food as you go. We went in a group of 6, which is a perfect number because you can find at least one other person to share something you would like to try.
We got lucky, and showed up in the middle of happy hour (3:00-6:00). If you are looking for a place to get cheap drinks, think again; the only drink special was $5 house wines. The real winner of happy hour is that the majority of their delicious antipasto menu was $6. We ordered Chicken Liver Pate Vasi with cherry-shallot compote and tuscan toast (the toast was great, but all together this was my least favorite). We had two orders of the prosciutto-veal meatballs (happy hour menu comes with 2 extremely large meatballs), and two orders of the Arancini, which are fried asiago rice balls with tomato sauce drizzled over it.
We also ended up ordering two pizzas. The first was the Soppressata with spicy pepperoni, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, green onions, and chili oil. Think of the Soppressata as the “meat eater” pizza option. The other was the Prosciutto e Rucola, which obviously had prosciutto, mozzarella, and a ton of arugula (imagine a salad of arugula with a side of pizza).
Last, but certainly not least, is the item my taste buds have been dreaming about: the Focaccia di Recco. It is made of Ligurian flatbread, soft cow’s cheese, and a honeycomb, so you can drizzle it on yourself. This comes cut in slices of 8 and is meant to be shared, but honestly, be selfish and have it all.
Davanti’s also has pasta, salad, and plates of meat and seafood. There is a second location in River North, but Little Italy probably has cheaper and easier parking. In my opinion, grab a friend, rush over during happy hour, order a glass of wine or a beer, get two of the Arancini rice balls and a Foccacia di Recco, and enjoy!