Davanti Enoteca – Little Italy

I’ve been a huge fan of Davanti Enoteca since the first time I went so its about time I had a post on them. Davanti is fantastic for dinner but this post is on brunch which it turns out is pretty great too. We came here on a Saturday morning post-Little Italy’s farmer’s market and there were plenty of tables. Always nice to not wait 45 min+ for brunch.

Davanti Enoteca

Davanti Enoteca

DSC_0668

There are two appetizers that you absolutely must start with, and luckily they are available for brunch. These are the focaccia di Recco a Ligurian style baked focaccia filled with soft cow cheese (add the honeycomb option) or the vasi with ricotta and honeycomb. Not both at the same time mind you because they are quite similar but one time order one and the next time the other. I personally prefer the vasi but most people I know like the focaccia di Recco better.

Davanti Lunch Menu

Davanti Lunch Menu

Davanti Brunch Menu

Davanti Brunch Menu

We went with the vasi with ricotta and honeycomb this time. You get grilled Pugliese bread with a whiff of truffle oil, a jar of impossible creamy and rich ricotta with sea salt and olive oil, and a wedge of honeycomb.

Vasi with Ricotta and Honeycomb

Vasi with Ricotta and Honeycomb

Ricotta

Ricotta

Grilled Pugliese Bread

Grilled Pugliese Bread

The combination of the toasty warm bread with cool creamy ricotta and sweet honeycomb is completely addictive. I do not know how they get their ricotta so smooth and creamy, I’ve tried both whipping it and blending it at home to obtain the same effect and sadly have not yet matched this texture. I suppose for $8 I can just keep coming here to get my fix for the real thing.

Grilled Pugliese bread with ricotta and honeycomb

Grilled Pugliese bread with ricotta and honeycomb

This is a large appetizer for two people, you get a lot of ricotta and they will gladly give you more bread if you run out, which we normally do 🙂

Next we ordered their salad with escarole + gala apple + pecorino dolce + celery + hazelnuts. It is a simple fresh salad and its also a sizeable portion. Simple and tasty with a basic olive oil dressing this is a light salad that has interesting texture and taste with the slightly bitter escarole contrasting with sweet cubes of gala apple, nutty toasted hazelnuts, crunchy celery and salty pecorino. Even though I am an avid meat eater I would not mind having this salad as an entree even though it also makes a mighty fine side salad when you are ordering pizza as your main dish.

Love that even though the toppings might look scarce on top when you mix up the salad there are plenty of all the other components so as to ensure that you’re not just eating fistfuls of escarole like a rabbit.

Escarole Insalata

Escarole Insalata

Escarole Insalata

Escarole Insalata

So for the actual brunch dish we ordered we went with the Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane which comes with toasted tuscan bread with prosciutto, fontina, parmesan cheese, sunny side eggs on top and roasted tomatoes on the side.

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

This was amazing and the portion was large enough that we split it between two people and still had leftovers (ok we also ate all that other food before too but I maintain its split-able). The prosciutto is super crispy and the cheese is nicely melted into the toast. Mix it together with the runny fried eggs (make sure to request them more cooked if runny is not your thing) and the juicy roasted tomatoes and you have a perfect bite.

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Also appreciated the pesto on the roasted tomatoes as pesto makes almost everything better.

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Overall had a lovely and very reasonably priced meal with fantastic service to boot. Our waiter was friendly, super attentive, and even offered to take our picture before we asked, most likely because it was hard to ignore my fat Nikon intrusively sitting on the table for the duration of the entire meal. It was also about 75 degrees and sunny so sitting on the patio was quite nice. Although I suppose I have to attribute that part to the amazingness that is San Diego in December.

Davanti Patio

Davanti Patio

Loved their Christmas decorations too.

CHECK:
– Vasi with Ricotta and Honeycomb $8
– Insalata with escarole $7
– Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane $10
TOTAL (w/ tax): $27.00

Davanti Enoteca – Little Italy

1655 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-9606

www.davantienoteca.com/

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Diner en Blanc SD

Having heard of the Diner en Blanc events a couple years ago I considered going to last years for the first time it was happening in SD but ehh was too lazy and ended up not committing. This year we bought tickets fairly early on and I have to say it surpassed my expectations and I will definitely be back next year!

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc started in Paris 25 years ago and now its hosted in cities around the world, everywhere from Quebec to Cote d’Ivoire to Singapore. Basically the premise is that all these people dressed all in white (nicely I might add) bring their own tables, chairs, table decorations and food to a spot. Although mind you, you can also rent tables/chairs from them and purchase a multi-course meal as well if you are not inclined to make your own. After meeting up everyone gets on buses that will take you to an undisclosed location where the thousands of people that participate in these events will set up their tables, chairs and food and have a giant open-air dinner party. They have taken place in the Place Vendôme at Paris and they shut down Rodeo Drive last year for the one in Los Angeles. In SD last year it was at Harbor Island and this year it was in a lovely courtyard in Point Loma.

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

The meet up spot was at Balboa Park and when we arrived I was happy I wore a nice white dress because people go all out for this. Floor length dresses, all white suits, parasols, carnival masks, boas…you name it. Apparently there is an award for best-dressed person as well as best-decorated table. Originally I thought this was a more casual affair and so I was glad that I was informed that yes, you have to dress nicely and no, you can’t just eat on a picnic blanket.

So the only downside is having to carry all your stuff everywhere. Its not too bad but we did have some pot de creme desserts that tipped over and made a bit of a mess. As well as I had trouble carrying our table from the car to the bus but I would blame this more on a personal shortcoming of having the upper body strength of an 8 year old.

The bus took us around a bit, going on the freeway and then back off, around downtown, stopping in a random parking lot (psyche) and then finally to Point Loma. Although initially I was unimpressed by the location once we were in the courtyard and everyone was set up it looked beautiful. The courtyard around us also handily sheltered us from the wind so that both girls in skimpier dressing as well as tall flickering candles were well protected.

Napkin waving

Napkin waving

Once tables are set, dinner starts with a napkin waving thing. It was nice chatting to the tables around us and although we were definitely on the younger side of attendees it was cool to have a good mix of all ages and both couples that came alone and huge groups of people attending together.

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

We went with simple but elegant for our table and a bottle of rosé for libations. Also although organizers say you must purchase alcohol from them and not bring your own, EVERYONE brought their own and lots of it. Next year we will definitely be smuggling some more wine in with our food.

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

For our first course I made crostini with truffled ricottas and mushrooms. When you are cooking you kind of have to keep in mind that all this stuff has to be transported and also that it will most likely be served sort of closer to room temperature, unless you have a nice insulated mode of food transportation like I did not (does a Trader Joe’s bag count? I thought not).

Caeser Salad

Caeser Salad

For the second course I made a caeser salad with caeser-basil dressing. Also known as, I made a caeser dressing and added basil to it because why not.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

The entree was roast chicken with Meyer lemon + roasted potatoes. I followed Kenji’s recipe from Serious Eats for a perfect butterflied roast chicken with quick jus. This was awesome. And I roasted the chicken on top of a wire rack with the potatoes underneath so that the chicken spices/juices/fat/everything dripped on the potatoes and they were sooo flavorful. I used Yukon Gold potatoes, dropped them in a pan with cold water + rosemary, Meyer lemons and salt over medium heat until they boiled and then threw them in with the chicken in the oven. They were the best roast potatoes I have ever made. No lie. Sadly not as good served room temperature but will definitely repeat this recipe.

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

For dessert we had dulce de leche + coconut pudding with strawberries. This was also great and I want to make it again but with more coconut and a chocolate sauce.

So after dinner there is dancing and we were thinking of just leaving early because we are the lamest 23 and 25 year olds on the planet and have work really early. But the DJ who was playing mostly oldies throughout the dinner sneakily got people on the dance floor with the Cupid Shuffle and from that went to more upbeat music. By the end of the night people were dancing in the fountains, there was a guy running around with a bubble gun and when we snap chatted a picture of the event to a friend she thought we were at Sensation White (the rave).

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Being used to going to loud bars/clubs that mostly have just people your age and that play mostly EDM all night it was super fun to dance around to songs with WORDS that everyone knows the lyrics too. It was also great seeing people of all ages dance and even better to see both 20 year olds and 60 year olds dancing inside the fountain!

Fountain Dancing

Fountain Dancing

Bubble Gun

Bubble Gun

We stayed until the very end and of course the very last song they played was Journey. I don’t even have to tell you which one. Great experience and can’t wait to be back next year! Hopefully with leak-proof containers for the dessert and someone else to take up table-carrying duties 🙂

For more info on Diner en Blanc:
http://sandiego.dinerenblanc.info/

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza Counter

Bronx Pizza Counter

Ok. This is not somewhere where you come on a date night and order a Pinot Noir then linger over dinner while picking between pizza with zucchini blossoms and fresh figs or mashed potatoes or whatever is trendy to throw on pizzas these days. This is somewhere to stop by and grab fast, fresh and delicious no-nonsense pizza with friends before hitting the bars or picking up a whole pizza to go when you’re to lazy to cook and you just want to eat yummy pizza  in front of the TV (it happens).

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza is located on Washington St. between 3rd and 4th in Hillcrest. The place looks rather small on the outside but there’s actually a lot of seating inside. When you walk up all the pizzas available by the slice are displayed. You walk in, tell them what you want, pay (cash only) and then go find a seat. It’s efficient, and if you see a long line fear not because they easily clear long lines and even though there were 5 people ahead of us we waited less than 5 minutes.

Pizzas

Pizzas

They have all the traditionals flavors – pepperoni, cheese, vegetarian, meat lover’s – and some more inventive options but nothing too crazy – pesto, white pizza (plain, with spinach or with mushrooms), tomato basil, pepperoni and peppers, artichoke pizza.

White Pizza with Spinach

White Pizza with Spinach

ENTREE: We ordered the Tomato-Basil (actually a white pizza with no sauce and fresh tomatoes and basil on top), the Pepperoni and Peppers (jalapeno and cherry to be exact) and the White Pizza with Mushrooms (mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms). We loved the pepperoni with peppers; it was spicy, salty and cheesy with the cherry peppers adding more dimension and taste to basic pepperoni with jalapenos. The white pizza with mushrooms was also excellent. They mix the ricotta with herbs so it has more flavor and white pizza pairs well with mushrooms. The mushrooms were also well-cooked instead of those paper-y dry things you get with a lot of chain pizzas. The tomato basil was nice but rather bland we will probably order the artichoke pizza next time instead. The crust wasn’t super thin but it was definitely New York style, we would have preferred a little more char and a little more chew but with the toppings it wasn’t bad at all.

Pepperoni and Peppers (left) and Tomato-Basil (right)

Pepperoni and Peppers (left) and Tomato-Basil (right)

White Pizza with Mushrooms

White Pizza with Mushrooms

Overall we really liked Bronx Pizza, its a no frills establishment serving good food and its cheap and fast. We will be returning for the pesto pizza and the arthichoke pizza (and for how fast it is!).

Bronx Pizza Window

Bronx Pizza Window

CHECK:
Pepperoni and Peppers $2.50
White Pizza with Mushrooms $2.50
Tomato-Basil $2.50
TOTAL: $8.10 (w/ tax)

Bronx Pizza
111 Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
www.bronxpizza.com

Bailiwick

After seeing pictures of Bailiwick here I decided that’s where I wanted to go for brunch on Saturday morning with a friend. It’s primarily a cocktail bar but they serve brunch on weekends.

Bailiwick – sdcitybeat.com

The restaurant itself has a whimsical decor; a lot of light blue and white with big chandeliers and vintage bird cages. Oh and a bathtub full of champagne by the front entrance:

Tub full of champagne at Bailiwick

Tub full of champagne at Bailiwick

The whole place is light, airy, and a nice option for brunch. Especially if you intended to go to Cafe 21 (which is right next door) but encountered a 2 hour plus wait. Instead of a bread basket you get Frozen Grapes Infused with Syrah to nibble on while you wait for your food.

DRINKS: They have the usual brunch suspects; mimosas and bloody marys. The mimosas come in different flavors besides just orange and you can opt for grapefruit, pineapple, and cranberry. I got the Pineapple Mimosa and it was nicely flavored and not overly sweet like I feared. My friend ordered the Belvedere Bloody Mary and it came with all the fixings, including pancetta. You could also go bottomless for $15.

APPETIZER: I got the Breakfast Cheese Plate which I thought was unique. I was afraid it would be too much cheese (and not enough bread!) as is common with cheese plates (disclaimer: I woke up ridiculously early that day and so had already had breakfast…) but it was perfectly portioned. You get two types of bread (raisin and marbled rye), ricotta and shavings of two strong cheeses. It also comes with cubed fruit (pear, apple, dragonfruit) and some honey yogurt that is lovely but awkward to eat out of a flat board. The dish is a starter and might be too small for someone with a healthier appetite but I was a fan.

Breakfast Cheese Plate

Breakfast Cheese Plate

ENTREE: My friend ordered the Continental Omelet which she added veggies too. It was served with slabs of (VERY) thick-cut bacon and home-style potatoes. This was served in a cast iron pan and the portion was fairly large. Bacon was crisp, potatoes were good, and the omelette was huge. Definitely a good option if you are hungrier.

CHECK:
Pineapple Mimosa $8
Bloody Mary $12
Breakfast Cheese Plate $9
Continental Omelet $9
TOTAL: $41.04 (w/ tax)

Overall this was a enjoyable and affordable brunch place that would perhaps cater to girls over guys given the decor and restrained portions. The menu was fairly small but had good options that covered both classics like the egg+meat+potatoes or french toast crowd but also something for those wanting something more original or lighter fare with the Breakfast Cheese Plate or the Brown Butter Grilled Oysters. Will be returning here. Perhaps not when ravenous/hungover.

Bailiwick
756 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
http://bailiwicksd.com/