‘Watts for Dinner’: Da Vinci’s paints a colorful, serene dining experience

Will Watts

Our next dining destination is Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano in the Marco Walk Plaza. This was an impromptu visit. We were picking up some treats at Dolce Mare around a quarter after four. We saw that nearly every stool was occupied at Da Vinci’s outside bar. We strolled by, but a sign indicated the restaurant wouldn’t open until 4:30.

We made a couple of more malls stops and when we returned, we found long lines at Da Vinci and The Oyster Society. When 4:30 hit, everyone just disappeared inside. We stopped at the host station and asked if we should go in. “Are you here for happy hour or to dine.” To dine, we said. We had skipped lunch and were feeling peckish. “Wait here. Those folks are here for drinks.”

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“All of them,” I questioned. “Yep, it happens every day,” she said with a smile. “Wow, I had no idea,” was my reply. You learn something new every day.

Things got off to an amazing start. From the appetizers menu, we selected the “Rollatini Di Melanzana” ($17), featuring eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella and a light marinara. The marinara is superb. Some of the best ever. The ricotta was fresh and plentiful. The eggplant less so. Overall a nice way to begin.

For my main entrée, I selected the “Linguine Nere All’Aragosta” ($35). Try saying that three times fast. It features squid-ink black linguine, Maine lobster meat and a cognac pink sauce.

The squid ink adds a dark sheen and a slightly briny flavor to this dish and is a perfect base for this dish. I expected only a small amount of lobster but was surprised. This dish had as much meat as your best Bolognese. And the sauce, delectable. I highly recommend this dish.

My partner in dine selected the “Gnocchi DaVinci” ($24), featuring potato dumplings (gnocchi), a tomato basil sauce and topped with burrata. The cheese looked more like a cream sauce atop gnocchi, which absorbed much of the sauce. It was a solid performer, but I could tell he was jealous of my beautiful dish; and I don’t blame him. And yes, I offered to share.

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Both of these entrees came with an amazing house salad to start. Note to chef: please add cheese to your house salad. A little goat cheese would make this a superstar. Just an opinion. 

For dessert I had the apple crumble ($10). First off, it was huge! The dish features cinnamon-spiced apples baked with sweet crumble topping, served warm with vanilla gelato and caramel sauce.

The sauce is light, a plus. I love the stiffness of the outside paired with the moisture inside. I thoroughly enjoyed, but could not finish, this amazing dessert.

My dining companion had the Nutella torta ($9), a gluten-free rich and fudgy, flourless Nutella-chocolate cake with Frangelico and hazelnuts. There’s only one word for this … decadent. Wow!

We also couldn’t resist taking home a pie. We selected the “Pizza Porcini” ($20) featuring, you guessed it, porcini mushrooms, truffle oil, mozzarella, shaved parmigiano. It’s a great way to keep you from going through Da Vinci withdrawal the next night, or morning; I don’t judge.

From top notch service to quality food and surroundings, day or night Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano delivers an exceptional experience. Happy eating!

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This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food. Not all dishes are featured in print, but you can find a gallery of all reviewed dishes online at marconews.com.

If you go

Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano

  • 599 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-389-1888
  • ristorantedavinci.com