DaVinci's Ristorante Happy Hour

Rebekah, Amy and I arranged to meet up for our first downtown happy hour experience at DaVinci's.   Their doors say they open at 5, but that's for dinner.  Their happy hour begins at 4:30.  
I'm ashamed to admit that I've never stepped foot in DaVinci's.  I was familiar with the location, but I didn't know was how popular this spot is. What a gorgeous old building and so beautifully decorated!  I was the first to arrive, but only because Rebekah read the hours on the door.  (Mental note: exchange phone numbers with group since I can't receive twitters on my phone.)  I walked the short distance over to their curved bar and pulled up one of their tall chairs.  I was greeted warmly by both the new bartender and Kathleen (who was keeping watch over the newbie).  He brought me water, the happy hour drink and food menu and their wine list.  I asked for drink suggestions and drooled over the food menu.  How to choose??

Once Amy arrived, we ordered.  We decided to share a cheese plate with crostini and a pancetta pizza.  I meant to order a cosmos, but discovered later I must have pointed at the wrong drink.  I ended up with (no complaints!) a Kamikaze.
My ratings (5 being the highest) are:  ambiance-4, food deals-5, drink deals-4, available times-5.  I would've rated the ambiance a 5, but the music was loud enough that I had problems carrying on a conversation with Amy and Rebekah.  And conversation is why I like to be with people!

Here's Amy/Lavachickie~
How have I come to be in Salem for four years, and only eat at DaVinci's once? That was sitting on the sidewalk during a summertime happy hour! That was over a year ago, so this might as well have been my first time. I had no idea their interior was so dramatic, classic and inviting. On my scale of cheap/inexpensive/moderate/pricey, they rate a "moderate" for normal menu items. Happy hour makes it possible to enjoy a little taste of their offerings, but for an inexpensive tab.

Three of us each purchased a drink and a food item from the happy hour menu, and also enjoyed their complimentary flatbread which is very good. The split total was $14 a person before tip, and it was a perfectly suitable light meal. A surprise favorite was the salmon bites that Rebekah ordered. It was a nicely sized serving, with a wonderful light flavor. I'm very, VERY picky about my fish, but this was delightful.

I ordered a Grape Nehi, and it was made, as I've found out, the traditional way (muddled lemons, add vodka and Chambord raspberry, garnish w/ grapes). My introduction was to a very different version as offered by McMenamin's, so my surprise at the form of my drink was not the (new) bartender's fault; he made the classic perfectly. Turns out I just like the nuevo version. We all paid more for the drink than the food, I think.

Both of my experiences have had one high point: excellent service. Attentive, warm, friendly (but not overly so) and lacking in pretension. Great food doesn't have to come with snootiness, as some venues seem to think.

The wood fired oven visible mid-ship is a wonderful element in the warm and inviting interior. Perfect for a relaxing happy hour, a "let's dress up" (or not) dinner out, or a romantic dinner.

Here's Rebekah~
I drove by DaVinci's on my way back from an appointment about 4:15 only to find that they weren't open yet. The hours on the door said dinner at 5 PM, so I decided to come back then. Karla and Amy were already sitting at the bar when I arrived and had ordered some delicious looking food options. I've been to DaVinci's for happy hour before and I remember their pizza being delicious, but since there was already a pizza in our party, I decided on the Grilled Salmon Pieces with Lemon Sauce. It was aahhhh-mazing. It was flavorful and not too dry and it came in a generous portion for $5. I decided on the house red wine for $5 as my happy hour drink and it was quite nice. It was a nice complement to the food and to the atmosphere. I love the cozy feeling of DaVinci's. From where I was sitting I could see the fire of the pizza oven where they were cooking their signature flatbread. It was a beautiful and comfortable spot.

My ratings (5 being highest): ambiance - 5, food deals - 5, drink deals - 3, available times - 4. I really like the ambiance. I think a different seat would have made the music a little less noticeably loud. Drink deals aren't bad, but I think they are a pretty average for drink deals around town. Altogether it was a very nice spot to meet with friends and have a little happy hour!


The Mulligan Family said...

DaVinci's is one of my favorite happy hour spots. Wonderful food for a most reasonable price. I never sit at the bar though. I like to go to the back of the restaurant for happy hour. Much more cozy and easy to carry on conversations.

Anonymous said...

DaVinci's is in my top 5 happy hour spots to hit in Salem. Have you seen their brick oven?