Davanti Enoteca is an Italian restaurant that started in Chicago. They now have two locations in San Diego. Pizza is one of many options on the menu. However, the focus of this review is on the pizza. Specifically, we would like to single out Davanti Enoteca for its focaccia di recco flatbread/pizza. This is our Davanti Enoteca review.
Outside of Italy, Davanti Enoteca is the only restaurant I have found that serves this type of focaccia. I learned about focaccia style pizza from Peter Reinhart’s book American Pie, My Search for the Perfect Pizza.
The opening chapters of American Pie discuss Reinhart’s trips to Italy to find the origin of pizza. His first stop is the Liguria region along the coast of north Italy. In Liguria’s largest city, Genoa, the “pizza,” is made on focaccia bread and served by the slice at the many Focaccerie’s at the city.
American Pie has many pizza recipes, including 3 focaccia recipes. The recipe that caught my attention was Focaccia Col Formaggio Recco. This is a recipe Reinhart developed from visiting Da O’ Vittorio, in the small town of Recco, a few miles south of Genoa.
I actually made focaccia di recco using the recipe in American Pie. I was happy with the results and a year later, in 2013, we made a special point of stopping for lunch in Recco at Da O’ Vittorio. The restaurant is part of a hotel and fancier than I expected. After trying the focaccia di recco, I can say my version came close to the original.
Little Italy Location:
Del Mar Location:
Davanti Enoteca immediately caught my attention when I saw focaccia di recco on the menu at their Del Mar location. Since that time, a second location has opened in Little Italy. We have only been to the Little Italy restaurant once, but we have been to the Del Mar location many times.
The focaccia di recco is $21 and best ordered as an appetizer for a group of people. It is thin flatbread topped with soft cow’s cheese (stracchino cheese in the American Pie recipe). It is served with a honeycomb. I honestly can not remember whether the pizza in Recco had honey. I took 1,600 pictures on that trip but none in Recco.
Davanti Enoteca also serves your standard Napoletana-style pizza now found at most Italian restaurants in San Diego. This is a solid choice but nothing unique. This is especially true of the Little Italy location where there are many pizza places in the neighborhood.
Most of the time we go to Davanti Enoteca we order focaccia di recco and a pasta dish as an entrée. However, our son is a huge fan of their Pizza D.O.C. This is basically a $15 margherita pizza that serves one person. D.O.C. is short for a fancy Italian designation for making pizza. I have seen some debate, but I think it means you need to use certain flour and no oil or sugar.
Davanti Enoteca is a great place for happy hour. From 3 to 6 every day they offer a special menu that includes an $8 pizza of the day. At the Del Mar location there is a nice outdoor patio area.
Surprisingly, Davanti Enoteca gets rave reviews for its hamburger. Several years ago, this used to be on the happy hour menu for $8, including fries. In recent visits, it has not been available on the happy hour menu but is on the regular menu for $16. Serious Eats did a rave review of the hamburger. We have not tried the burger in several years but plan to revisit it for our best burger in San Diego list.
Overall Davanti Enoteca is one of our favorite Italian restaurants in San Diego. We like it better than Buona Forchetta which tops many lists, including for its pizza. Frankly many of these Napoletana-style places start to run together. Davanti Enoteca stands out for its focaccia di recco (which a purist will say is not really pizza).
Fun Diego Family is on a quest to find the best pizza in San Diego. Davanti Enoteca is in the fancy California/Italian pizza category of our pizza taxonomy. To see our full guide go here.