Before I get to Da Vinci, let me tell you, this Plate 52 blog series has changed my paradigm on dining out. First, I’m gaining weight as a result of the dairy and other delicious ingredients that I’m consuming and that’s not cool. And second, after living in the Twin Cities for three years, there aren’t a lot of restaurants that I still want to try that I haven’t tried, which I guess is the point of this blog project. Ha! But you get my point. So when someone recommends a restaurant, I’m 99% open to it, but boy, there have been some doozies along the way. Unfortunately, I’ve made the mistake of then trying to find another restaurant within the week to replace the disappointment of the first restaurant. No more. My waist line can’t handle it anymore.
Anyhow, I’m hoping over the next 45 weeks I’ll be rejuvenated by a fresh surge of good restaurants in the Twin Cities that are new to me. Take for example La Grolla – it is one of my favorite Italian restaurants in St. Paul, in the Twin Cities, perhaps in general. It is a true gem – the food is authentic and the atmosphere is energetic – and in my opinion, it is worth the 30-minute drive to St. Paul, MN. However, I can’t write about it in Plate 52 since I’ve already been, so when my grad school buddy Rachel Wright described Trattoria Da Vinci in downtown St. Paul, MN, as “modern Italian … both times it’s been very good” followed by the restaurant’s décor is “over the top,” I had to check it out.
Whoa! Da Vinci certainly isn’t La Grolla! (Rachel and Scottie: we will be going to La Grolla this autumn.) Walking into Da Vinci was a subcultural experience to say the very least. It was quite comical. The décor was hideous; it looked like an Italian cliché threw up all over the walls and ceiling. Vaulted ceilings ... candle lit tables (where none of the tables had their candles lit) ... antique stone fountains ... live entertainment (solo singer covering adult contemporary songs) ... copies of Leonardo da Vinci's work all over the place ... and a mural! Cute.
Now about the food: in only my opinion, which is what this blog is about, the food was fair. I ordered the gnocchi di patate (homemade potato dumplings served with Bolognese). My gnocchi was too pillowy for me, which I’m starting to wonder if it’s a regional thing. Week 6’s Cara Troye ordered the gnocchi at Hotel Donaldson and it was the same texture and she loved it. It’s not that either gnocchi was bad, per se, but that overt pillowy texture is not for me. However, Rachel, who isn’t from the Upper Midwest either, agreed that the gnocchi was too tender, so that’s why I’m inclined to think it’s regionally prepared this way. The sauce was subpar; it needed to be richer.
Even though the food wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I have to say the waitress was darling and even offered us free dessert since we all finished our plates. (See, this is why I’m gaining weight – I didn’t even like my dish but I still finished the damn thing.) However, we declined since we were all stuffed which is why she probably offered it to us for free – she probably knew we couldn’t eat anymore!
All in all, my plate was fair. I won’t be back, though.