La Spina, Davis Sq.
La Spina in Davis is pretty much my new default. It's almost never crowded, and the food is quite good: it's very much a 'traditional red-sauce' kind of place, but it's well done; I think it's a bit better than Sagra, and the prices certainly make it a better deal.
Over the course of a couple of visits:
Gnocchi, which were very light and tender.
Napoletana sausage dish: the chef apparently has a particular place in the north end where she gets the sausage, and there's only so much of it. First time we tried, she'd sold out. 2nd time, we had it: worth the wait. It wasn't very spicy, which sort of surprised me, but that let the flavor of the pork shine through really well.
Eggplant involtini: I don't know how they get the ricotta to be so airy. Probably whipping it or something. Either way it was delicious. The involtini at Sagra are not as good. (Have you noticed that just about *every* restaurant in Davis Square now has involtini? Orleans, Mike's, Sagra, and La Spina, at least. I'm waiting for the Chinese takeout joint on College Ave to offer it.)
Slightly less traditional: A special eggplant app: they stuffed a half a small italian eggplant with scallops, shrimp, and squid, then topped that with panko and roasted it. Delicious.
The bartender there, (Steve?) is very knowledgeable about wine. He told us that he was studying for a Level 2 Sommelier certification exam in the near future.
Thanks for the tip! We checked out the menu on our way to Gargoyle's last night and it looked pretty good. I've always liked going to this space (with all of the prior owners) because it's low traffic and quiet and the bar area's always accessible. How were the wine prices and selection?
I have been to La Spina 2 times now for drinks and have been very pleased both times with my service, drink selection, and execution. I saw several people getting food at the bar and everything looked high quality and the people eating seemed to be really enjoying it. Portions are hearty and the sauces look home made. The decor inside is a wee bit cheezy at times, but very moody and relaxing (dark wood bar, plush red seats, dim lights, etc.). The bartender is indeed knowledgeable and friendly (though I think he wishes he were at a trendy Boston restaurant rather than a Somerville red-sauce joint with delusions of grandeur ;) Given the over-crowded nature of Davis SQ, I'm happy to have a place that isn't mobbed that I can get a table or a chair at the bar at....however, given the over crowded nature of Davis SQ, their lack of business doesn't bode well for them.
I'd say give them a shot, Out of the Blue down the street isn't nearly as good and their packed, so this place deserves at least some attention.
Had dinner there Sat 4/28. Place was full due to Boston opera company performing some songs during the 8-9 hour. Music was great and so was the food. Steve did a nice job and the staff, which has been maligned in other posts, got their act together and performed well under sold out conditions.Our waitress was very young but was eager to please and even listened to some suggestions made by some long-ago waitresses at our table. Met the owner who was very nice and the taste to value ration pretty much makes this place a must if your in Davis.