When I was asked to check out Davio's new summer menu I knew it'd be one to remember. Davio's is popularly known for its impressive array of carefully sourced and seasonally inspired Northern Italian fare, featuring homemade pasta, fresh salads, and prime-aged Brandt beef. It also boasts a vast assortment of over 400 Italian, American and French wines, many of which are available by the glass. Davio's Manhattan location opened about a year ago and is located conveniently across from Grand Central Station.
Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted and seated at a quiet corner table for two. Out came warm baked bread, Sardinia crackers, house whipped butter, pickled brussels sprouts and my favorite, eggplant mousse. We couldn't stop smearing the creamy mousse onto the crisp crackers and graciously said yes to a second serving. We started our evening off with lavender infused summer cocktails and a crisp glass of Prosecco. It was a perfect summer night in the city and the cocktails were just what we needed for a start to a great meal. Executive Chef Chad Brown came and greeted us and asked if there was anything specific we did not particularly care to eat. "Anything off limits?" he asked. Us? We love it all! Chef Brown took our enthusiasm and ran with it. We were ready to indulge.
The tasting menu consisted of about ten plus courses and was a lovely way to try a bit of everything on the menu. First came out the halibut croquette with spicy habanero jam. This was a more creative spin on the typical crab cake and there were no complaints on our end. Lightly fried and the sweet kick from the habanero jam was perfection. Next up was a dish that was one that impressed. The chef's special foie gras spheres with toasted pecans, infused with vin cotto on top of brioche and arugula and drizzled with a strawberry verjus vinaigrette. This dish is so detailed that Chef Brown is only able to make eight servings a day. So rich, and the amount of flavors left you completely satisfied. A small serving was just enough. This dish is one of the more memorable off of the menu for me.
Chef Brown settled our taste buds a bit with a light insalate of roasted baby beets, crumbled goat cheese, hazelnuts and a earthy beet vinaigrette. I love the combination of beets and goat cheese, so this was undeniably a hit for me. What I love about Davio's tasting menu is how Chef Brown is able to divide up the different flavors from each particular dish one after another and strategically plans how each dish will follow up with the last.
Next up was the grilled Spanish octopus with chickpea puree, crispy artichokes and olio santo. This appetizer was spicy, smokey and paired nicely with the chickpea puree. All of the flavors hit you at once. Chef Brown is noted for his exposure to fresh fish and you could truly tell through his cooking the man has an eye for seafood. One of my favorite dishes was the homemade linguini, razor clams, manila clams, cherry tomatoes and parsley. A simple dish that was made just right. The clams were extremely fresh and salty and sweet all at the same time. I could have easily had two servings of this pasta. Keeping with the theme, out came perfectly pinched pockets of lemon mezzaluna ravioli filled with goat cheese, spinach, asparagus and tomato brodo. Instantly I was hit with lemony goodness and creamy cheese.
As if we weren't full enough there was more to come. Course after course continued to trickle out from the kitchen and we anxiously awaited the next dish one after another. A delicious serving of pan seared sea scallops, crispy pork belly, white asparagus, string beans, fava beans in a apricot sauce appeared in front of us. It started to become a game for my fiance and I as we tried to guess what the next dish could be. The sweet scallops paired with the crispy, salty pork belly and sweetness from the beans ignited with each bite. This dish was another Davio's favorite of mine. Filled to the brim one last course danced across our table for two. A phenomenal pork tenderloin paired with urfa biber, cauliflower, salted roasted potatoes in a rosemary sauce. Another wonderful combo of flavors and a truly gorgeous presentation.
Delicate and rich desserts followed up our grand tasting followed by a strong cup of cappuccino. We couldn't get enough of Chef Brown's creations and can not wait to go back. Davio's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an extensive bar menu where guest can enjoy small plates and cocktails.
Davio's Manhattan: 451 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. Tel: 212.661.4810.