While there are plenty of restaurants in Philadelphia that serve up a decent steak, there are few that have perfected the art of searing and serving the classic dish as well as Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse. This Rittenhouse Square restaurant has also hit a high mark by blending a menu of select chops with rustic pasta, meat, and seafood dishes from Northern Italy. All of these dishes boast an appealing, home-cooked taste in an upscale dining setting that hosts stylish Rittenhouse Square regulars, suit-clad businessmen, women on power lunches, and families out for special occasion dinners.
Since its birth in 1999, Davio’s has fast become one of Philadelphia’s top spots, raking in numerous awards and consistently boasting a winning wine list. With a reputation for superior service and, of course, unforgettable food, Davio’s is one of Philadelphia’s premier restaurants for not only lunch and dinner, but for breakfast as well.
In addition to an outstanding menu, Davio’s luxurious setting offers an ideal place for special events with facilities that can host up to 200 guests. The restaurant includes a penthouse floor private dining room and arrangements may also be made to use the entire restaurant. Davio’s outdoor Skyline Patio offers guests dramatic views of the neighboring Liberty Place Towers, as well as the eastern downtown cityscape.
Housed in Philadelphia’s historic Provident Bank Building, a visit to Davio’s requires an elevator ride to the main dining room. Bursting with anticipation, we step off chilly 17th Street and into the low-lit elevator. We are pleasantly surprised that we get a sneak peak at the restaurant’s menu, which is posted on the elevator door. The ride up is speedy, but we already get an idea of the great things to come.
As soon as the elevator doors open, smooth jazz music combined with the soft buzz of quiet conversation and clinking dinnerware surrounds us and we step into a setting that exudes class and style. We walk through the comfortably chic bar area where there are comfy-looking couches surrounding low tables for those who opt to sip while they wait for a table. The long, sleek, polished bar shows off shelves of premium liquor used to mix selections from the list of snappy concoctions and classic cocktails, and an array of draft and bottled beers. Condensed menus on the low tables in the bar area let us know that it offers another dining option for those who are more pressed for time or want to munch on small plates while meeting with friends for a post-work drink.
The gleaming, polished walnut floors lead us further into Davio’s where we find the restaurant’s stylish-looking manager greeting us with a smile. He runs the front of the restaurant alongside a wait staff that is smartly dressed in long white coats reminiscent of those found in authentic Italian restaurants.
As we are lead to our table, we notice that the vast dining room stretches far back as it boasts high sweeping ceilings, grand pillars, and huge arched windows that invite in the blue light of dusk from the surrounding city streets. The restaurant is dimly lit and features recessed lighting fixtures that hang overhead like bright stars. Well-appointed seating allows for a free-flow of movement for the eye and the staff who easily move past the tables, which are dressed in pristine white tablecloths complemented by sleek, dark high-backed chairs.
Our server, Joseph, is a seasoned-pro; this is made apparent by his knowledge of the food and recommendations for our options that evening. He is accompanied by another server, Michael, who makes suggestions on what wines might go best with various dishes, and also makes sure our table is clear and free of crumbs between courses.
While we await the arrival of our first course, we are given a white Italian Prosecco to sip on. It is chilled and slightly fizzy, almost resembling a less dry champagne.
Our meal begins with what the servers tell us is the restaurant’s signature dish: Philly Cheese Steak Spring Rolls® served with spicy homemade ketchup and spicy mayo. This dish, created by Executive Chef David Boyle, is golden brown on the outside with a thin and crispy wonton crust. Inside is a warm blend of shaved rib eye and cheeses. The rolls come to us on a long white plate, topped with a delicate bundle of curly fried onions that cascades down and around the golden brown shells. The texture combines the familiar crunch of an eggroll with the taste of a Philly cheese steak. The dish has proven to be such a hit that the restaurant has marketed a frozen version at local grocery stores.
With our appetizer we sip on a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that is cool, light, and crisp with slight floral hints.
Next we are served the Warm Spinach Salad with mushrooms, peppers, goat cheese, pignoli and pancetta tossed in a warm shallot vinaigrette. The spinach, which our server tells us is organic, is fresh, earthy and vibrant. The goat cheese is a surprising touch to the salad that we can’t get enough of It has a nice nutty flavor to it and its smooth texture blends well amidst the leafy greens. The vinaigrette is warm and sharp, yet slightly sweet, and hugs the salad lightly. The dish is topped off with the roasted taste of the peppers, the earthiness of the mushroom, and the pleasantly sporadic crunches of the pancetta and pignoli.
The Bufala Mozzarella is served with roasted heirloom tomato and fresh sprigs of basil in a balsamic reduction. The dish is vibrant in color, smell, and taste. The sliced red heirloom tomatoes are juicy and the fragrant sprigs of fresh basil add a refreshing zest to the dish. The fresh Bufalo mozzarella is milky and smooth and is best when drizzled with the robust balsamic reduction.
With our second course we sip on a mineral-focused Rudi Wiest Riesling with fruity hints of apple and pear.
Finally, the main event arrives promptly as our salads are cleared. First comes the Grilled Center Cut Filet Mignon, a thick hunk of meat about the size of a fist that is grilled to an appealing brown. The outside of the cut is seared to a slight crunch and is a wonderful contrast to the inside, which is cooked to medium temperature and cuts and tastes like butter. The flavor of the rich beef and its juice glide across the tongue with each morsel of meat we savor. Davio’s only serves all-natural Brandt Beef, which is known for optimal flavor and is the only beef producer to receive the Master Chefs Institute’s “Seal of Excellence” for its commitment to producing a superior culinary product.
The Pan Roasted Jumbo Sea Scallops share the same buttery tenderness as the filet, only with a more delicate taste similar to lobster. Like the steak, the top is seared to a slight, pleasant crunch.
Our meaty main courses come with three sides: an earthy, fresh spinach and mushroom combination, delicate angel hair pasta in a zesty marinara sauce, and a creamy blue crab risotto that is almost the consistency of a thick rice pudding. This fan-favorite has a robust taste of creamy, savory crab and is decorated with fresh hunks of tomatoes.
We sip a velvety Napa Valley Pinot Noir with our main course that is laced with cherry and smooth in taste.
For the grand finale of our meal, we’re served a Chocolate Molten Cake that is served fresh out-of-the-oven with a light dusting of powdered sugar. The rich chocolate cake is moist, and once we cut into the center we get a delightful surprise of smooth, velvety chocolate fudge that slowly swarms the white plate. The smooth stream of bliss mixed with the cake is complemented by fresh vanilla gelato on a bed of chocolate shavings. Warm and velvety, this sinful chocolate dish is simply unforgettable.
We end our meal with a hot cup of coffee as we nibble on some fresh-baked biscotti, which are nutty in flavor and firm, yet not stale.
Our coffee cups are empty and our dessert plates don’t bare a single crumb as we linger in the comfortable and stylish setting of the restaurant while others sit down to enjoy their meals. However satisfied, we are green with envy as a little parade of long white plates are sent out to surrounding tables; consequently, we decide that our jealousy is all the more reason to return to Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse to try absolutely everything else on the menu.