Not having expectations met isn’t always a bad thing

I eat out far too much. At great peril to both my wallet and my waistline, I’m a total sucker for every ‘Now Open’ sign I see.

If I visit a place and don’t like it, I take great joy in watching it flounder and close. It’s not wanting to watch a place close, I can’t wait for the next place to open there. Someone always thinks they could do so much more with the space. Sometimes they are right.

There was a small Italian place near my house, that opened to entirely too much attention, that was absolutely atrocious. There is just no way around it. The staff was bad. Food was overcooked and greasy. Seriously, Pasta and red sauce? GREASY? It was amazingly bad, and became the go to joke of ‘Where do we go tonight?’

In short order, it closed. There was a fairly bizarre sequence of signage changes. 3 different owners apparently took a run at redoing the space. None actually opened. Then DaVinci’s sign went up.

DaVinci’s sign went up and the windows were blacked out. For months. Never a car in the lot. Never an open door.

This space is off the main road, in a small strip center in a fairly affluent planned family community area. No other food spots within sight. Screams family dining. Simple, affordable, predictable. Lots of red sauce. Maybe an alfredo. I’m not down playing the type. I live in that type.

So, after a couple weeks to let them work the kinks out, I loaded up and gave it a shot.

Honestly the prior experience was so bad, i had flashbacks pulling into the lot.

Walking in the door, dim lighting, dark stone counters, and crisp white table cloths were the first clue this was to be a very new experience. Ending all memory of previous disaster, there was a specials board in small handwritten chalk a full 3 feet tall. There was nothing familial about this selection.

The waiter gave detailed descriptions of each item. I’m not overly food snobbish, but I can recognize when serious attention has been paid to finishing an otherwise simple concoction. The explanation was simple enough that my 5 year old understood what was being served, and detailed enough to maintain an air of sophistication. Quite a feat for a staff in business less than a month.

Meatballs held none of the meatloafy flavor they sometimes can. The sauce maintains visible actual tomato pieces, but cooked to the tenderness of a sauce with just a shade of acidity. Not a sliver of greasyness. I honestly could of gone for a heavier pasta, but I like pretty thick pasta. If there was anything ‘average’ about the entire meal it was the noodles. The Salmon was moist and garlicy. The Alfredo was creamy and not overly salty.

There was no debate over serving Spumoni without the pistacio for my daughter. And the Chocolate Mousse cake wasn’t drowned in liqueur.

All in all, DaVinci’s was a surprising treat to visit. It cost twice as much as I expected. Was almost entirely not the kind of experience i either dressed or planned for. But, the staff, owner, and chef worked together to make it worth far more than I paid.


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