Of course, a reference to da Vinci or at least to The Da Vinci Code (written by Dan Brown). However, I am referring to Da Vinci Ristorante, one of the latest and greatest eateries in Boston’s South End — not the person or the book by the same namesake.
Thursday night was my bi-weekly GNO (Girl’s Night Out) and this week we hit Da Vinci for some traditional Italian fare and to provide moral support to our friend “Weebs” during her shoot for The Dish on Channel 7 News. So what do angels and demons have to do with Da Vinici restaurant? Well, the co-owners — Chef “Peppino” (Shingara Singh) and Wioletta Zywina — were like angels to us that night — with the Chef’s perpetually charming smile and incredibly humble demeanour and Wioletta’s welcoming beauty and exceptional graciousness. The demons of course were the devilishly delicious dishes we feasted on throughout the evening.
“A” and I arrived around 6:30 and decided to have a drink at the bar while we waiting for Weebs and her crew to arrive. I went for the DaVinci Mojito ($13), a traditionally prepared mojito except Patron tequila is substituted for rum. “A” went with her usual, a Grey Goose Martini, straight up with 2 olives (also $13). The drinks were good and strong, though a little pricey. I liked mine, but decided I would rather stick with a standard mojito the rest of the night. I’m just not that into tequila.
SIDE NOTE: My one negative comment for the night would be regarding the bar staff. I stood at the bar for a good 10 minutes before having my drink order taken (despite the fact that no other drinks were being made). During the rest of our time waiting at the bar, every drink order took an extraordinary amount of time to be fufilled and the bar staff was very unfriendly. I hate to “dis” on this place, however, I think the bar staff needs a little lesson in good customer service.
The crew arrived shortly after and started by filming an interview with Chef Peppino. We were then introduced to Wioletta and Barbara, the PR person for the restaurant. Barbara gave us some background on the restaurant and on Chef Peppino. It is a very interesting story… all of which is featured on the Da Vinci website. Barbara also recommended that we nosh on the Chef’s signature “mistake” while we waited — Deep-fried Fusilli (corkscrew pasta) finished with white truffle oil and parmigiana cheese. The story goes that the Chef accidental spilled a bag of pasta into a pot of oil one night and this concoction was magically created. When I say this stuff is addictive, I am not kidding. Mmmm…..
We continued to sit at the bar, enjoying our cocktails and conversations with Chef Peppino, Wioletta, Barbara and Frances (Rivera of Channel 7 News), until filming began in the kitchen. Frances and Chef Peppino filmed the making of a special Shrimp and Frisee Salad — which will be featured on a later airing of The Dish (including a recipe posted on the website). I’ll provide an update once the air date is released.
When filming was finished, we all sat down at a table overlooking the open kitchen. While the Chef went to work, filling our plates with lots of goodies the rest of the evening — I took an opportunity to browse the menu and was drooling with anticipation — wondering what we were in store for.
We started with a few appetizers, including the special salad featured on The Dish — Frisee and Shrimp in a white wine lemon juice dressing. Next came a parade of Grilled Portobello ($11) with prosciutto and fontina cheese on a bed of warm arugula salad with reduced balsamic vinegar, Tomato and Mozzarella Di Bufala Campana ($11) with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil on arugula and Arancini ($8) with baby arugula and shaved parmigiana. All of these dishes were devine, but my favorite by far was the grilled portobello and I think the rest of the table agreed with me.
The main course consisted of a Pasta Tasting ($18) plate containing the Gnocchi Sorrentina (full size is $15) served with fresh tomato basil sauce and buffalo mozzarella, the Pappardelle Boscaiola (full size is $17) served with yellow foot chanterelle mushroom, white truffle oil and shaved parmigiana and the Mezze Luna Da Vinci (full size is $15), stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and ricotta in a creamy corn sauce. If pressed, I would have to say my favorite was the Gnocchi… but I am a sucker for these dense potato dumpings, so my opinion may be a bit biased.
Lastly, Chef Peppino brought out a desert plate — which probably contained about 5 different deserts. There was a type of panna cotta, a rich milk chocolate mouse, a pear tart and I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember the other items in the presentation. This is NOT because they weren’t memorable… as every dish was wonderfully delicious. It is more so because by then I had 3 mojitos and a glass of wine in me and to be honest… It was difficult enough to remember all the other dishes we had, let alone our desert finale! I guess I should have taken notes. What I do remember, however, is that the pear tarte was AMAZING. The buttery, flakey and sweet crust was so yummy that I could have eaten an entire plate of it by itself.
All-in-all, a wonderful evening filled with unsurpassed hospitality, delicious food and great company! AND… the chef sent each of us home with a fresh-baked loaf of bread — which I am STILL enjoying!
One final note… If I had to pick one thing that the restaurant should work on (aside from the bar staff), I would recommend finding a new web designer and developer. Sorry… the techie in me just can’t help but comment. The overall graphics and how the page flows is very old school and looks “home grown”. Also… not a big fan of the book concept or the music. Lastly… add the cocktail menu and the dessert menu… as they are both worth showing off! 🙂