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I was planning a birthday dinner for Dennis with friends and made a reservation for Davanti Enoteca in Del Mar. We've been here a couple times before, including San Diego Restaurant Week and have enjoyed the food.

It's a cute restaurant. Look at these big empty wine bottles as props near our table! I want one for my room!

There's also a bicycle out front for deliveries. Or maybe it's just a decoration.

They gave us this handy glossary guide when we were seated! I loved how it defined the unfamiliar words I've been seeing in italian restaurant names (davanti enoteca i.e. in front of the wine bar).

While waiting for the rest of our party, Dennis ordered the Churchill Downs cocktail. We were a little shocked when this cup full of crushed ice came out. The waitress said it was in the same style as the original mint julep, complete with tiny copper mug and all. Tastewise, it was pleasant but got watery quickly due to the iceberg beneath the surface.

I couldn't resist ordering the Polenta + Ragu of the Day in the large size for sharing. I absolutely love the creamy buttery polenta with its slight hint of cheese and the tender pork shoulder in umami sauce. I haven't eaten it in a long time so this made me quite happy.

A recommendation from the waitress was the Truffle Egg Toast. The thick buttery toasted shell had a soft boiled egg inside and fontina cheese melted on top. It was heavenly and decadent! The shaved roasted asparagus scattered around the plate would have carmalized better with a little more heft though.

Our other entree was the Davanti burger, a juicy medium rare patty that didn't seem oily on that thick bread. The fries were well seasoned with salt but the shoestring thin shape caused it to be a bit like eating potato chips.

Our friends are pretty awesome and let us take pictures of their food too, as well as a few nibbles here and there!

Charred Broccoli (left) and Roasted Campari Tomatoes (right)

You can select your meats and/or cheeses for a charcuterie board. This one is the 3 for $15 board and additional add-ons are $5 each.

pizza con salsiccia e rapini (first) and pizza con funghi e taleggio (second).

Dennis's sister Lisa was impatiently pulling a slice off right as we snapped a picture! This pizza needed a slight kick of flavor. The veggies seemed to be more stem than leaf. She rated it 3.5 out of 5. Another friend got the mushroom pizza which they said was alright. They were wishing they had what we ordered!

Another friend ordered the focaccia di recco + honeycomb. This is definitely for sharing! The bread was like a softer cracker stuffed with ricotta and the honey on it added a nice touch! Very interesting.

orecchiette con salsiccia e rapini (first) and housemade pappardelle (second)

The first pasta was pretty good albeit a little salty. The other had really well made papedelle noodles but the shredded pork was oversoaked in the meat juices to the point of being mushy yet plain.

After all that food, we were taken by surprise when a birthday dessert arrived. This is a cheesecake with goat cheese! The waitress must have picked it out ahead of time even though she gave us the dessert menu to browse. We appreciate the nice gesture but would have preferred to pick ourselves since we aren't cheesecake fans! This particular dessert was super thick due to the goat cheese and we passed it around to share.

I also decided to forgo a big cake... with a large party of 14, I couldn't justifiy an additional $2-3 cake cutting fee on top of cake costs (and knew Dennis would feel the exact same way). After dinner, we walked 2 doors down to Champagne Bakery and birthday boy chose a fruit tart. I recommend trying their princess cake or triple chocolate mousse cake though!

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband Dennis! I hope you enjoyed a night out with friends!

We'll be back to Davanti Enoteca for the yummies like that truffle egg toast but will pass on the pizzas.

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Davanti Enoteca (Del Mar)
12955 El Camino Real
San Diego CA 92130
(858) 519-5060

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