For the best, authentic Italian fare in Stillwater OK, look no further than DaVinci’s Italian Ristorante. Locally owned, homemade, delicious cuisine.
Aaron and I had been talking for months about going to Lucille’s for breakfast or lunch, but for some reason never made it. We finally made plans to go the Tuesday before Christmas. It’s about a 25 minute drive from Stillwater, and as we were driving I double checked the directions…and found out it’s only open Thursday – Saturday. Thankfully we were only about 10 minutes into the drive. We regrouped, and decided to go to DaVinci’s Italian Ristorante instead. We’ve both eaten there numerous times, but I’ve never done a post on it.
Ever since I moved to Stillwater 9 years ago, I heard people constantly talk about how much they wanted an Olive Garden. But I also kept hearing that Stan, who owns the Eskimo Joe’s family of restaurants, bought the Olive Garden franchise to keep it out. Joseppi’s Italian Restaurant was part of the Eskimo Joe’s family, which leads me to believe that Stan didn’t want the competition. To me, competition makes you better. And as much as I love Stan, I wasn’t a fan of Joseppi’s.
DaVinci’s opened in 2010 on the east side of town in a strip mall. Olive Garden finally came to town about 3 years ago, in that same strip mall. DaVinci’s originally planned to close, I’m guessing because they didn’t think they could compete. There is absolutely no comparison or competition between authentic Italian and Olive Garden, and from what I understand the loyal DaVinci’s customers made that known loud and clear. I’m glad the owners listened and remained open.
DaVinci’s is on the corner of the strip mall, and 2 sides are solid windows. Every time I’ve visited the blinds have been down, to create a more intimate atmosphere. The seating is a combination of tables and booths, and there is a small bar at the far back corner. I really like that the owners are almost always there, and are often working at the front of the house. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, and open for lunch and dinner the rest of the week.
The menu is all Italian, and features baked pastas, pizzas, a variety of entrees, and desserts. When DaVinci’s first opened they didn’t have a liquor license, so you could bring in your own wine. Now DaVinci’s has a full bar. They also have a pretty extensive lunch special menu with very reasonable prices.
Warm, homemade Italian rolls come to the table first
I love these rolls. They are light and have lots of layers of goodness. Do I need to add the butter that is provided at the table? Well, of course not. But that has never stopped me before. I always have to force myself to only eat one. Trust me, it’s not easy.
All entrees and the lunch specials also come with salad. You can choose from several dressings, and my favorite is the creamy Italian. It is rich, but not heavy, and is very flavorful. I always get it on the side so I can dictate how much to use
The salad is small, but between the bread and generous meal portions, this size is more than enough.
Aaron got the DaVinci special
When the dish first came to the table, my first thought was–way too much going on in one bowl. But then I tried a bite, and it was so delicious. The sauce is cream based, but it is quite light. The sausage has a definite kick, but the sauce tones down the spice.
I have tried many of the dishes at DaVinci’s, and I’ve never been disappointed. The baked ziti is one of my favorites. But in the spirit of the food blog, I kept looking to try something different. I went with the pasta sampler of ravioli, lasagna and manicotti. I had never tried any of these dishes before, so this was perfect.
I expected 3 separate portions, so this one dish was a complete surprise. I flagged down the server to ensure I had the correct meal; he said I did, so I dug in.
I do wish this came in individual portions rather than in one big dish. It was almost like Russian roulette with each bite, never sure exactly what you were going to get. I tried to eat it in thirds so I could fully appreciate each portion separately. Negatives aside, the food was fantastic. One bite confirms that the food is homemade, and everything comes to the table screaming hot. The marinara sauce is rich and delicious, and the melted mozzarella on top makes it that much more divine. The ricotta in the manicotti and lasagna stands up well to the cheese and sauce, and you can distinctly taste the ricotta with each bite. Of the 3, the ravioli was my least favorite. However, I think it’s because I’m just not accustomed to baked ravioli. I need to try it again, on its own, to make a fair review.
As we ate we both said there was no way we could finish our meals, because of the portions. I don’t even know why we say that anymore, because we almost always do clean our plates. And then we say “next time we won’t do that”.
As long as I’m living in Stillwater I will continue to eat at DaVinci’s, and it will always remain high on the list of my favorite restaurants in town.