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Dave's Italian Kitchen, Evanston

Dave's Italian Kitchen, Evanston
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  • Dave's Italian Kitchen, Evanston

    Post #1 - November 2nd, 2005, 6:29 pm
    Post #1 - November 2nd, 2005, 6:29 pm Post #1 - November 2nd, 2005, 6:29 pm
    Image


    Dave's, an Evanston institution, has been mentioned here and there, but really deserves a thread of its own.

    I dined there early on a recent Sunday and the place was packed with college students, families and seniors. Sunny yellow walls hung with a wide variety of art (student efforts?) make up for the underground space. The tables are covered in red-checked vinyl.

    Image
      Eggplant parmesan

    As I've written before, Dave's is real thing all those Italian-American chain restaurants try to emulate. The food is plentiful and good. Service is friendly and helpful. They managed to accommodate somebody in our group who's on a salt-free diet with a good looking plate of salmon and fresh veggies.

    Image
      Spaghetti carbonara

    My friend adores the hearty eggplant parmesan there. I enjoyed the spaghetti carbonara, rich and buttery and full of bacon. Himself dug into even richer spaghetti gorgonzola, with a meatball on the side. (Yes, you do get bread with one meatball, and good bread it is, too.)

    Image
      One meatball

    According to the menu, they make all the breads, soups, ravioli, desserts and salad dressings in-house. On somebody's recommendation, I had a salad with the house-made creamy garlic salad dressing, and it is potent stuff.

    Not a purist's Italian restaurant, but a very good place to eat. The most expensive item on the menu is under $15; most things are under $10. I would visit more often if I lived nearer.

    Dave's Italian Kitchen

    847/864-6000
    http://www.davesik.com
    1635 Chicago Ave., Evanston

    Edited to fix post-upgrade formatting issues.
    Last edited by LAZ on June 4th, 2008, 5:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - November 2nd, 2005, 7:35 pm
    Post #2 - November 2nd, 2005, 7:35 pm Post #2 - November 2nd, 2005, 7:35 pm
    Haven't been there in a couple of years, but I swear they've barely raised prices since I went to school at NU in the 80's, and that's including moving to a pricier address (although they are in a basement).

    You have hit on some of their key dishes. The eggplant and carbonara are their pinnacles. Yes, they oversauce the pasta, especially with the marinara, and it's not going to be a transcendent meal, but they've fed many a hungry college student to happy satiation.

    Back in the day, before Evanston rehabbed Davis Street, Dave's where you ate when you were paying for it, Pine Yard when your 'rents (parents) were paying. It's good to see they've both kept up the quality
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:55 am
    Post #3 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:55 am Post #3 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:55 am
    I agree with your evaluation of Dave's - a place I visited frequently when I was an Evanston resident. I also appreciate their wine selection - with many serviceable options at reasonable prices. The markup doesn't seem as high compared to other restaurants. From what I recall, most bottles are under $30 - with some even dipping below $20.
  • Post #4 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:27 pm
    Post #4 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:27 pm Post #4 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:27 pm
    Dave's is a sentimental favorite: I love the lasagna with meat sauce (a half-portion, please). A great value and a good choice with kids in tow, as long as you are not there during peak hours. None of the posts above mentioned that Dave's delivers. They do partly-cooked pizzas which you can finish at home. As a New York pizza fan, I'd say the thin crust is no Original Ray's, but not half bad. The food travels well, even if your kids don't.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #5 - November 4th, 2005, 8:06 am
    Post #5 - November 4th, 2005, 8:06 am Post #5 - November 4th, 2005, 8:06 am
    Josephine wrote:None of the posts above mentioned that Dave's delivers.

    I would surely have mentioned it if they delivered to where I live!
  • Post #6 - November 4th, 2005, 9:29 am
    Post #6 - November 4th, 2005, 9:29 am Post #6 - November 4th, 2005, 9:29 am
    Dave is not open for lunch... This post got me in the mood for carbonara yesterday, but I walked into a darkened building... Bummer...

    FYI... Dave opens at 4 pm
  • Post #7 - November 6th, 2005, 12:16 am
    Post #7 - November 6th, 2005, 12:16 am Post #7 - November 6th, 2005, 12:16 am
    I've always found Dave's a great value, and very good food.

    But, I always thought their motto should be:

    "would you like some pasta with your garlic?"
  • Post #8 - November 7th, 2005, 8:27 am
    Post #8 - November 7th, 2005, 8:27 am Post #8 - November 7th, 2005, 8:27 am
    They also are good about requests. It's not on the menu but they will sautee spinach with garlic, add a grilled chicken breast, sub grilled chicken for sauteed, sub zucchini for cheese in their calzone, leave out the stick of butter they add to their sauteed dishes, etc.

    Their wine prices are VERY reasonable, and they allow/encourage BYOB too.

    We miss Dave's, now that we don't live around the corner from them :(
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #9 - November 9th, 2005, 5:41 pm
    Post #9 - November 9th, 2005, 5:41 pm Post #9 - November 9th, 2005, 5:41 pm
    It's been years since I've been there, but has the "Wait for Table/Quality of Experience" ratio improved at all? It seemed like everytime I'd go there the wait was too long, and the space to wait in too crowded and uncomfortable, for the resulting food to justify.
  • Post #10 - November 10th, 2005, 8:33 am
    Post #10 - November 10th, 2005, 8:33 am Post #10 - November 10th, 2005, 8:33 am
    We arrived for an early dinner (5ish) on Sunday and walked right in. The place was filling up by the time we left, but I didn't notice people waiting, and there's ample space to wait in. IIRC, the old place was smaller.
  • Post #11 - November 10th, 2005, 2:09 pm
    Post #11 - November 10th, 2005, 2:09 pm Post #11 - November 10th, 2005, 2:09 pm
    I had one almost-experience in the current location, at a more "high-demand" time. It was around six or seven on a weeknight, I think--but it could have been a Friday or Saturday, I'm not sure. We went there after seeing a movie at the Century in Evanston. Walking in, we found a waiting crowd and a level of cacophony and chaos for which the word "madhouse" might not be an exaggeration. We turned around and walked out, because the place, while good, isn't worth that kind of nonsense.
  • Post #12 - June 3rd, 2008, 5:48 pm
    Post #12 - June 3rd, 2008, 5:48 pm Post #12 - June 3rd, 2008, 5:48 pm
    LAZ wrote:According to the menu, they make all the breads, soups, ravioli, desserts and salad dressings in-house. On somebody's recommendation, I had a salad with the house-made creamy garlic salad dressing, and it is potent stuff.

    LAZ,

    Recently had a very nice meal at Dave's Italian Kitchen celebrating a nieces birthday and I specifically asked Chef Paul, who happens to be my nephew, if the terrific bread was made in house. He said they try to make as much as possible in house, bread, pizza dough, cannoli shells, which they fill to order, salad dressings etc.

    Lamb chops are my menu choice at Dave's, lightly marinated meaty chops grilled med-rare, tender with a hint of flavorful fat running up the bone. An order of 5 with grilled zucchini and broccoli is a very reasonable $14.75. Yes, there seems to be more than 5-chops on my plate, I did mention the chef is my nephew. ;)

    Grilled Lamb Chops

    Image

    Image

    I had a taste of the carbonara which, as LAZ says upthread, is rich, buttery and full of bacon, and the youngster in the crowd loved her mostaccioli and meatball. My wife went with lamb chops, but is a fan of the "Chicken Marsuvio" (marsala, vesuvio and red onion) with the scallop option, as am I.

    Spaghetti Carbonara

    Image

    Mostaccioli w/meatball
    Image

    Love the cannoli, like the tiramisu but, unlike the majority of Dave's customers, am lukewarm on the chocolate mousse, finding it over the top rich.

    Cannoli
    Image

    Service was exceptional, but I'd be in trouble if I said anything else as another niece, Ashton, was our waitress for the evening. Though she really is an excellent waitress.

    Ashton, Chef Paul
    Image

    Restaurant was filled with a mixed crowd of happy diners, students, families, older couples, celebrations, pleasant murmur of conversation perfect background to our meal.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - June 3rd, 2008, 6:21 pm
    Post #13 - June 3rd, 2008, 6:21 pm Post #13 - June 3rd, 2008, 6:21 pm
    riddlemay wrote:Walking in, we found a waiting crowd and a level of cacophony and chaos for which the word "madhouse" might not be an exaggeration.

    Yep, I'd be unsurprised if that was the last time I ate there - we were there with the extended family - somebody had a birthday party at Whole Foods, so a great many of the parents and siblings were there, and madhouse was an apt description, but the staff found a relatively separate spot for us and managed the cacophony gracefully. It's a great "first" restaurant for kids - and there are usually quite a few there. :D

    leek wrote:They also are good about requests. It's not on the menu but they will sautee spinach with garlic, add a grilled chicken breast, sub grilled chicken for sauteed, sub zucchini for cheese in their calzone, leave out the stick of butter they add to their sauteed dishes, etc.

    I find many of Dave's dishes to be heavier than I prefer, but this last time I scored by ordering the spaghetti with butter and garlic sauce, and then adding spinach and crimini mushrooms a la carte. The resulting dish was really, really good (yes, still heavy, but heavy with butter and garlic!)
  • Post #14 - June 4th, 2008, 7:49 am
    Post #14 - June 4th, 2008, 7:49 am Post #14 - June 4th, 2008, 7:49 am
    My wife almost always gets the Grilled Lamb Chops, I usally go with the Spaghetti Bolognese. Dave's is a good cheap place to eat quality "American" Italian food. They have a nice wine list for a lower priced place.
  • Post #15 - June 4th, 2008, 8:41 am
    Post #15 - June 4th, 2008, 8:41 am Post #15 - June 4th, 2008, 8:41 am
    The Spaghetti Carbonara looks delicious!
    Fettuccine alfredo is mac and cheese for adults.
  • Post #16 - June 4th, 2008, 12:06 pm
    Post #16 - June 4th, 2008, 12:06 pm Post #16 - June 4th, 2008, 12:06 pm
    I agree that the wine list at Dave's is exceptional for a cheap Italian place. I'm guessing that the markup is well below industry standards, too.
  • Post #17 - June 4th, 2008, 12:18 pm
    Post #17 - June 4th, 2008, 12:18 pm Post #17 - June 4th, 2008, 12:18 pm
    Looks awesome! Since we're currently house hunting in Evanston, I'll be checking this place out soon. La Gondola is our go-to Italian delivery now, but this looks like our soon to be choice.
    "Your custard pie, yeah, sweet and nice
    When you cut it, mama, save me a slice"
  • Post #18 - June 5th, 2008, 2:31 pm
    Post #18 - June 5th, 2008, 2:31 pm Post #18 - June 5th, 2008, 2:31 pm
    I always get the Spaghetti Carbonara Primavera on house made spinach rotini. It's not on the menu. It combines the primavera veggies with the carbonara sauce. Love it. Love it. Love it.

    Great bread and olive oil. I could make a meal on just that. It's a great place for the family. We all have a favorite there.
  • Post #19 - June 5th, 2008, 3:32 pm
    Post #19 - June 5th, 2008, 3:32 pm Post #19 - June 5th, 2008, 3:32 pm
    Brings me back.
    I seem to recall a spate fairly negative, condescending posts at one time---may have been all the way back in the CH days.
    I was one of those students for whom the sight and smell of Dave's spelled happiness. I was just getting interested in wine then, and either they were BYO, or they allowed it with no charge, because the walls and window ledges of the old place were lined with the empties of guests past, many inscribed with names and references to the occasion celebrated.
    The great thing was that it was a real restaurant, and you could actually afford it. We'd fill up a booth and stuff our lean and always hungry frames with starch and sauce. I used to stick my head over the rising garlic steam from the Vesuvio and inhale before I tucked in, though my usual plate was pasta with both an obscenely large sausage and an additional meatball. (One more meatball and my plate could have got me arrested for public lewdness.)

    Used to consume loaves of the good bread before dinner came, then eat all the starch on the plate, then sop up the remainng sauce with more bread. And here I am today, 30 lbs. heavier, same appetite, metabolism slowed to a crawl.

    Haven't been there, probably, since I left Evanston. I miss that stretch with the Dominicks on one side, Daves and Pine Yard on the other. Today's Evanston is unrecognizable to me. A better restaurant town, no doubt, but I'm glad I was there when I was. Daves, the Third Rail (where they ground their own beef, and made a real, anchovy salad dressing), Sherman Snack Shop for every day breakfast/lunch and a chat with Eunice, the waitress with the beehive and catseye glasses, The Keg (for occasions), Fritz That's It for brunch salad bar (a crazy new concept to me), and Cafe Provencal for when you really thought you'd become a grown up. (And the mysterious sandwich man making his rounds of the dorms to get you through a paper or finals week.)
    Through my wistful nostalgic sobs, I hear Mary Hopkins singing, "Those Were the Days."
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #20 - June 5th, 2008, 8:48 pm
    Post #20 - June 5th, 2008, 8:48 pm Post #20 - June 5th, 2008, 8:48 pm
    mrbarolo wrote:I was one of those students for whom the sight and smell of Dave's spelled happiness. I was just getting interested in wine then, and either they were BYO, or they allowed it with no charge, because the walls and window ledges of the old place were lined with the empties of guests past, many inscribed with names and references to the occasion celebrated.

    Mr. B -- you've obviously forgotten that Evanston was traditionally a dry town. BY-ing your OB was the only option until 1984, except for a couple of hotel bars. (see this link for some Evanston liquor history).

    And that sandwich man? He put several kids through (another) college on those nightly munchies.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #21 - June 5th, 2008, 10:08 pm
    Post #21 - June 5th, 2008, 10:08 pm Post #21 - June 5th, 2008, 10:08 pm
    I do remember that the town was dry, but I also remember that it didn't seem to affect my life much. I remember ordering plenty of beer at Yesterdays. And I remember a meal at The Keg with a visiting actor from Stratford Canada who was doing master classes at school. He drank me well under the table before the food even arrived. This was late 70s. I thought the "dryness" involved a ban on bars where alcohol was served but not food. I thought you could serve alcohol at restaurants with kitchens. Guess I'll have to click on your link to refresh my memory. :)

    And so I did. Where I found this: "The city remained dry until the early 1970s, when economics began to wrest control from temperance ethics. A Holiday Inn wished to move into downtown Evanston but would not do so without being allowed a liquor license. The City Council yielded, and the hotel was permitted inside the city with the aforementioned license. Soon afterwards, the liquor law was loosened so that alcoholic beverages could be served with meals in restaurants." This seems to perfectly explain my memories."
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #22 - June 6th, 2008, 4:37 am
    Post #22 - June 6th, 2008, 4:37 am Post #22 - June 6th, 2008, 4:37 am
    Many, many good times at Dave's...

    Mom & Dad liked taking the 4 of us boys there, 'twas the onliest place we wouldn't act up. One of those thin pizzas for an appetizer (fresh mushrooms, what a concept!), then lasagna or whatever from the sauce-stained white paper menu. I remember that obligatory sauce to most entrees as being really, really red.

    In high school, if you were cool about it, you could bring beers in there & the N'Western student waitstaff wouldn't say anything, as long as you tipped well. First enjoyment of pizza & beer without hiding in someone's basement.

    Then, home from college in the summers, Dave's was a date place. Solid food, great ambience (if it wasn't for that damn family with 4 boys making noise across the room!) and with a bottle of Portuguese Vin Rose wine (yecch!) I was a man on a mission.
  • Post #23 - June 6th, 2008, 7:57 am
    Post #23 - June 6th, 2008, 7:57 am Post #23 - June 6th, 2008, 7:57 am
    mrbarolo wrote:Brings me back.
    I seem to recall a spate fairly negative, condescending posts at one time---may have been all the way back in the CH days.
    I was one of those students for whom the sight and smell of Dave's spelled happiness. I was just getting interested in wine then, and either they were BYO, or they allowed it with no charge, because the walls and window ledges of the old place were lined with the empties of guests past, many inscribed with names and references to the occasion celebrated.
    The great thing was that it was a real restaurant, and you could actually afford it. We'd fill up a booth and stuff our lean and always hungry frames with starch and sauce. I used to stick my head over the rising garlic steam from the Vesuvio and inhale before I tucked in, though my usual plate was pasta with both an obscenely large sausage and an additional meatball. (One more meatball and my plate could have got me arrested for public lewdness.)

    Used to consume loaves of the good bread before dinner came, then eat all the starch on the plate, then sop up the remainng sauce with more bread. And here I am today, 30 lbs. heavier, same appetite, metabolism slowed to a crawl.

    Haven't been there, probably, since I left Evanston. I miss that stretch with the Dominicks on one side, Daves and Pine Yard on the other. Today's Evanston is unrecognizable to me. A better restaurant town, no doubt, but I'm glad I was there when I was. Daves, the Third Rail (where they ground their own beef, and made a real, anchovy salad dressing), Sherman Snack Shop for every day breakfast/lunch and a chat with Eunice, the waitress with the beehive and catseye glasses, The Keg (for occasions), Fritz That's It for brunch salad bar (a crazy new concept to me), and Cafe Provencal for when you really thought you'd become a grown up. (And the mysterious sandwich man making his rounds of the dorms to get you through a paper or finals week.)
    Through my wistful nostalgic sobs, I hear Mary Hopkins singing, "Those Were the Days."


    I remember eating at the old Dave's it took me awhile to warm up to the new place on Chicago Ave. BTW they did move the old bottles to the new location and they are lined up on a ledge around the interior. I have a couple bottles up there.
  • Post #24 - June 6th, 2008, 4:17 pm
    Post #24 - June 6th, 2008, 4:17 pm Post #24 - June 6th, 2008, 4:17 pm
    Ah but do you remember eating at the old, old Dave's? The one before (Davis street) the one before (Church Street) the current one (Chicago Ave)... Dark, a tad dusty, with long waits for solid cheap food. I had a memorable first date there my junior year in high school. Of course I'd been eating there with my parents for several years prior. I still enjoy the cheese stuffed peppers with meat sauce.
    "The only thing I have to eat is Yoo-hoo and Cocoa puffs so if you want anything else, you have to bring it with you."
  • Post #25 - April 26th, 2009, 8:53 pm
    Post #25 - April 26th, 2009, 8:53 pm Post #25 - April 26th, 2009, 8:53 pm
    The wife and I paid a sentimental visit to Dave's last night. I hadn't been there in at least 15 years. When i was a kid growing up in Wilmette we used to eat there quite frequently. i remember most things cost less then $4, even then incredibly cheap. My wife went to NU and had similiar fond and distant memories of good times.

    We arrived and there was a 45 minute wait, as we waited we got more and more excited. Finally we sat and perused the menu and everything is still incredibly cheap and looked great. Lots of students and families seemed to be having fun, getting loaded and paying (comparitively) very little for their food. We selected a lasagna and chicken "marsuvio" to split. We got the italian salad and the garlic bread too. We kept saying to ourselves, "why dont we come here more? Its so cheap, its such a great place, yada yada. Then the food arrived...

    We were snapped back to reality. Now i remember why I haven't been back in 15 years. The food is not very good. It is bland. It is so overly garlicky that more then 24 hours later I am still tasting my dinner. Dave's was great when i was 10 years old and my dad allowed me to order anything on the menu that I wanted, and an appetizer, and dessert. I can see why Dave's thrives in Northwesternland. On earth its not so good.
  • Post #26 - February 20th, 2011, 8:03 am
    Post #26 - February 20th, 2011, 8:03 am Post #26 - February 20th, 2011, 8:03 am
    G Wiv wrote:Restaurant was filled with a mixed crowd of happy diners, students, families, older couples, celebrations, pleasant murmur of conversation perfect background to our meal.
    Energetic multi generational mix of people, knowledgeable enthusiastic staff, (more than) fair wine prices, crusty bread and grilled lamb chops. I should go to Dave's more often.

    Dave's Italian Kitchen

    Image
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - February 21st, 2011, 5:07 am
    Post #27 - February 21st, 2011, 5:07 am Post #27 - February 21st, 2011, 5:07 am
    Last time I was there, those Lamb Chops were the most expensive entree on the menu, at about $15. GWiv's living large.
  • Post #28 - February 21st, 2011, 8:13 am
    Post #28 - February 21st, 2011, 8:13 am Post #28 - February 21st, 2011, 8:13 am
    What's the wait like on weeknights these days? The wait is the one hangup for me about the place, and 45 minutes (as last reported here in 2009) is too long for us. All my other associations with Dave's are fond ones.
  • Post #29 - February 21st, 2011, 8:20 am
    Post #29 - February 21st, 2011, 8:20 am Post #29 - February 21st, 2011, 8:20 am
    riddlemay wrote:What's the wait like on weeknights these days? The wait is the one hangup for me about the place, and 45 minutes (as last reported here in 2009) is too long for us. All my other associations with Dave's are fond ones.
    On a Friday night we waited about 25-minutes at 7:30, but there were 15 in our group so our wait time might not be indicative of smaller parties. I'd guess the wait time for smaller parties was 10-minutes or so.

    I don't think there is currently much, if any, of a wait mid week.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #30 - February 21st, 2011, 11:13 am
    Post #30 - February 21st, 2011, 11:13 am Post #30 - February 21st, 2011, 11:13 am
    iblock9 is absolutely spot on with his comments above. The overwhelming taste, culinary depth and impact at Dave's can be summed up thusly:

    "Would you care for some pasta along with your garlic dinner?"

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