Restaurant Week is in full swing here in Boston. There are plenty of pros and cons to RW, and plenty of discussions over whether it's even worth eating out during this time period. Many restaurants do a miserable job, making bad impressions on diners who were using the $33 menu as a chance to experience a new place.
Some places, however, do an excellent job at showing what they can do. They either serve smaller portions of their regular dishes or make cheaper dishes in the style of their regular menu. Davio's goes off-menu with delicious and fresh ingredients, really showing off what they can do.
I started with the clams Casino were a great start to a great meal. The presentation was beautiful, with the clam shells perched on top of a little tangle of seaweed. The mixture of clams, chorizo, crabmeat, and breadcrumbs were savory and delicious. The smokiness and saltiness of the chorizo was well balanced by a squeeze of acidic lemon juice. The two clams were the perfect size to get me excited for the next dish.
For my entree, I chose the gnocchi alla Sorrentina. I have a hard time passing gnocchi up whenever it appears on a menu. The gnocchi were perfectly made little puffs of love. They literally melted in my mouth in little sighs of potato-y goodness. Mmmm. The tomato sauce was well-balanced, with plenty of oregano, and the fresh mozzarella was just stringy enough to serve as a chewy counterpart to the soft gnocchi. If this is what Davio's can do with tomatoes, I'd be curious to try their regular gnocchi dish with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. (Coincidentally, Davio's is the first place I really enjoyed mushrooms, so I know they do them well).
There was no choice for dessert on the RW menu, but instead, everyone received the same 3-piece sampler. I like this tactic, as it gives more of a chance to try the different offerings of the restaurant. My favorite of the bunch was a piece of puff pastry with custard, cream, and raspberries. The raspberries were very flavorful, not the crappy things you find in the supermarket at this time of year. Plus, I'm a sucker for anything with puff pastry. The carrot cake was also tasty and very moist. The "molten" chocolate cake, on the other hand, was no good. It was more like a dry mini-cupcake. Most likely, this was caused by scaling down the dish and serving it at room temperature - I'm sure a full-sized cake would be gooey and warm and much better. But then again, if there's puff pastry to be had, I won't be opting for the chocolate cake.
Overall, Davio's does an excellent job handling Restaurant Week. The chefs are able to prove their capabilities in the kitchen while the waitstaff shows exceptional courtesy to people dining below the price point of the restaurant. I definitely want to try Davio's regular menu sometime soon.