I had lunch at Davanti Enoteca yesterday with Brittany Carlisi, one of California’s favorite Italian Wine-o-Philes.  I am pleased to officially report, San Diego’s Little Italy is ready for you, Foodies!  A stretch of downtown previously haunted by basketed Chianti bottles, red-checkered tablecloths and thick, Italian-American-style meat sauces, Davanti Enoteca proves Little Italy has entered a food Renaissance.

It’s about time!This farro salad with roasted squash  was perched on a bed of soft, whipped goat cheese.  The watercress and toasted hazelnuts really completed the dish- a vibrant grassy green
perfume followed by an earthy crunch. The flavors were all wrapped up in those perfectly chewy, nutty farro, accented with a touch of something sweet (balsamico? saba?)  Simply delicious.  Especially when paired with a glass of Terlano Chardonnay or Terlano Pinot Bianco!

Another show-stopper was the truffled egg toast with Fontina and asparagus.  Set in a fluffy block of white bread, (think Japanese toast meets Italian bruschetta), the eggs were perfectly set outside and super runny within.  I also appreciated the perfectly seasoned and lightly grilled asparagus- a welcome foil for the cheesy, truffle-laden richness of the toast.

Brittany and I also shared a plate of seared steak over a bed of roasted radishes and oyster mushrooms.  This is Italian comfort food at its best- a few simple ingredients, prepared flawlessly, with a touch of whimsy and fun. The genius behind the food here is Chef Luigi Negroni of Imola, who also collaborated at the famous San Domenico.  What a beautiful thing to find such a culinary mastermind in your own backyard.

Bravo Chef, Bravo!

Another stellar pairing – the aforementioned Bistecca with Paolo Scavino’s Barolo “Carobric”.  This was the 2007, a small preview of Scavino’s next release, already showing amazing potential and impressive power!  The nose is dusty and full of drying violets and spice.  A marked acidity was delightful, and will integrate well after this wine has some time in the bottle to settle.  Scavino’s Carobric bottling is a Barolo fashioned from a blend of three major Crus (Rocche di Castiglione, Fiasco in Castiglione Falletto and Cannubi of Barolo).  We’ll need a few years yet to truly understand her, but this Barolo was flirty, fun and makes all the right promises.

A truly satisfying, delicious meal in one of the most beautiful cities in the world- Davanti Enoteca delivers world class Italian food to San Diego’s Little Italy.  Mille grazie!