I had a craving for pasta on Friday night, and knowing that there is a pasta bar right down the street, I called a friend and we met at Trattoria DaVinci, located in the Lowertown neighborhood of downtown St. Paul.
It was shortly after 5 – I didn’t make reservations or apparently need any. The hostess greeted us at the door and led us to a table near the open-kitchen-concept pasta bar. The restaurant is located in an old brick building on Mears Park. The decor plays off the inventions and works of Leonardo DaVinci, a bit much for my tastes, but by no means offensive.
The tables were all covered in white tablecloths and had lit candles. The place felt very clean and comfortable.
Water was delivered immediately and the waiter, Brady, welcomed us with menus. I ordered black coffee and began to peruse the menu.
Trattoria DaVinci pasta bar features a variety of sauces, ingredients and pastas so that you can create your own combination. (They also serve from the pasta bar over lunch for a reduced price).
Fresh bread and a garlic seasoned butter were delivered to the table, along with the wine, followed shortly by the Prosciutto E Mozzarella – pan seared fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto di Parma. The was served with a small side of mixed greens in a light dressing. My initial impressions were that this was bland and dry. The prosciutto only covered a small portion of the toasted bread, the rest tasted dry. Only after adding a bit of the salad to the mozzarella and prosciutto and minimizing the toast could I enjoy this appetizer.
Trattoria DaVinci. There was not one thing I could flaw with the service. Not one. I wish I could say the same for the food.
The next item delivered was a split Caesar Salad. Like most fine dining restaurants, The server split this for us in the kitchen and presented it to us in two dishes – a touch I always appreciate. As for the salad, I was hard-pressed to find anything representing flavor in the dressing. While the Romaine was crisp, the parmesan was fresh and plentiful and the croutons (while nothing special) were as expected, the dressing left me severely disappointed. I only order this item because I assumed an Italian Restaurant would have an outstanding Caesar Salad. Unfortunately this was not the case.
I returned to my table and it wasn’t long before Brady appeared with both our entrees. I was concerned about the timing since the items were coming from two different kitchens, but they arrived simultaneously and hot.
We ate as much as we dared and still had more than enough for another meal (so yes, I did have them boxed).
Although it has been mentioned, the service was impeccable. My coffee was kept full and hot, our water glasses never dry, and I didn’t even have to wait for the bill or to pay. How refreshing. The total was about $80 plus tip. I will definitely be back and will recommend Trattoria DaVinci for pasta and more.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. My rating would have been a five if the Caesar Salad had not been absolutely flavorless and the appetizer hadn’t been disappointing.
400 Sibley Street
St. Paul, MN 55101