Let's just say this first: Phil Vettel would be happy if Scott Harris simply called Davanti Enoteca Maiale Viola. Why? He feels it's a South Side re-imagining of the Purple Pig, of which Harris is a partner with Jimmy Bannos, Sr. But more so, he says Harris couldn't do a better job. "At Purple Pig the menu embraces influences from around the globe; it's fun and eclectic. Davanti's menu, also fun, has a strict Italian focus, albeit a modern, Mario Batali-influenced sort of Italian that tradition-heavy Taylor Street doesn't see very often."
He goes on to say that "pastas are certifiable stars. The egg, spinach and ricotta-filled raviolo is straight from the repertoire of the famed San Domenico restaurant in Italy, and it's a delicious indulgence." Vettel digs the wine program, where bottles go for retail prices plus $7, where real value is found in the higher-priced wines. "Harris says he'll make his profit in volume, and here's hoping he does. I'd love to see retail-plus-$7 pricing catch on." [Tribune]
Pat Bruno received a lot of pleasure and happiness while dining at Wicker Park's La Fonda del Gusto, which can translate to "the restaurant of good eating." He says the fresh guacamole sings the right tune. "Chunks and pieces of avocado mixed it up with the requisite guacamole ingredients, so there is a range of textures and good flavor and delicious creaminess that keep the chips a dippin’ straight out of the molcajete." While the menu has all the typical Mexican options, Bruno dove into the the "La Fonda Favorites," and found a winner with the Plato Revolucion: "This was one of the better short ribs I have had in a while. The meat, and there was plenty of it, was flavorful, falling-off-the-bone tender and enjoyable down to the last morsel. The rice and charro beans, though quite good, played second fiddle in this arrangement." [Sun-Times]
Mike Sula dropped into Del Seoul, a newer Korean taco joint that he feels has both hits and misses. He likes that you can create bahn mi sandwiches (with baguettes from Uptown's Ba Le Bakery, no less), and said he's "most partial to the panko-battered shrimp (available on tacos as well): the crunchy tensile pop of the crustaceans with a creamy schmear of sesame-chile aioli combine to remind me of nothing so much as a New Orleans po'boy. Sula feels Del Seoul fell short on a few items, including the kimchi-and-pork-belly fries, calling it "a soggy mess of underfried spuds slathered in cheese, sour cream, and kimchi, with minuscule scraps of meat. This Korean poutine should never have been allowed out of the lab. Yikes. [The Reader]