Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trattoria da vinci – St. Paul, MN

D.Rough and I had driven by Trattoria da Vinci a number of times and thought we’d better check it out. We were completely unsure of the fanciness of the restaurant, so we got a little “business romantic” and headed downtown to check it out.

It’s a challenge to get in the front door, being as the front door is actually through the lobby of a high-rise that the restaurant is nestled in. So you have to go in what looks like the front doors to a hotel/apartment building then go to the restaurant (rather than roam around the outside looking for a door while diners pointed and laughed because it’s 10 below zero outside).

The inside is more casual than we thought, but there was a good mix of dressy and casual people, so we weren’t out of place. It’s got a couple of Italian columns inside and some Italian artwork on the wall, so it's sort of got a Pier 1 Italian feel. We got a seat near one of the windows so we could mock other people who couldn’t find the entrance.

The waitress brought us menus and helped us determine what we should get. The menu isn’t huge, but there are plenty of things to eat – from pizza and sandwiches to a pasta bar. We thought we’d split some things, so we went with Insalata Misticanza (salad with almonds, dried cranberries and topped with parmesan and balsamic vinaigrette) and Prosciutto E Mozzarella (pan seared mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto do Parma) to start with and then split an order of Gnocchi Do Patate (potato dumplings with Bolognese). We were also in a wine mood, so D.Rough got a glass of Pinot Grigio and I got a glass of Reisling.

The wine was wonderful for both of us and the appetizer and salad came out pretty quickly. The Misticanza salad was simple, but quite good. The cranberries were really flavorful and the dressing wasn’t too heavy. The Prosciutto was quite tasty as well. The presentation was a little weird, but we eventually figured out how to cut it efficiently and made sure we ate the entire thing. We really liked the crunch of the bread with the saltiness of the prosciutto. The fresh mozzarella is hard to beat, no matter where you’re at. And of course, D.Rough and I fought over the balsamic reduction. Hahahaha.

The entrée came out while we were still eating our appetizers, so we had to scramble to get room on the table for everything – but we managed. We dug into the gnocchi and knew right away we had ordered the right thing. It wasn’t the best gnocchi I’ve ever had, but it really hit the spot. The sauce was good and wasn’t too liquidy or pasty and there was a tiny bit of spice, which we were both glad to taste. The gnocchi was cooked pretty well and we didn’t leave a single bit on the plate – surprise surprise, right?

The whole time we were eating, there was a guy playing guitar upstairs for the restaurant. He wasn’t a highlight or anything, but he did play some awesome versions of top 40 hits from the 90’s with all kinds of awesome jazz solos thrown in. A large group of drunk girls sang a couple of the tunes loudly while he played and he seemed amused, for the most part.

The restaurant is pretty casual and the food is good. Not stellar or ground breaking, but we’d eat there again. It’s a good safe Italian restaurant and you’re not going to go away hungry, nor broke.

Top 5 things about Trattoria da Vinci
1. Gnocchi E Patate
2. Prosciutto E Mozzarella
3. Insalata Misticanza
4. Decent wine list by the glass
5. Very good server who took care of us

Bottom 5 things
1. It’s difficult to find the entrance
2. The menu isn’t huge
3. They have different things on the online menu that we were unable to order
4. The timing of the food could have been better, leaving us more room on our table to eat
5. It’s a bit more casual than we expected


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should go there during lunch hour to take part in the pasta bar. It's amazing.