Review: J. Devoti Trattoria

first impression »
Anyone who went to Five Bistro knows chef Anthony Devoti has talent. He’s strictly farm-to-table, including butchering his own meat. Devoti now has made his popular Hill spot more casual, with a more ‘accessible’ menu—it went from a mostly prix-fixe spot to someplace you can get a burger or pizza (a tasting menu still is available for $65). The ambience, redone in shades of grey and warm woods, is appealingly intimate.

wash it down »
The drink menu is still top-heavy with wines (mostly high-end ones), but there is a handful of draft and bottle beer, as well as a half-dozen designer drinks. The sparkling cocktail ($9)—made with Blanc de Blancs Champagne and Rossa Amara (60 proof blood orange liqueur)—is delicious: effervescent and slightly citrusy thanks to a large orange peel twist.

overall »
I love this place for its dedication to quality. Whether it’s a burger or bistecca alla Fiorentina, you are getting great food. And the environment is more intimate than bustling, bar-centered place—perfect for a quiet evening out. There are only about a dozen tables in the dining room, plus some high-tops in the bar, so call for a reservation on weekends.

must try
» the pizza: $16; Crusts here are fabulous: thin and crisp with homemade tomato sauce and gourmet toppings that change seasonally.
» the burger: $17; Made with house-ground pork, beef and lamb, it’s like eating gourmet meatloaf on a bun (focaccia, naturally). House-smoked pork belly adds extra fat to an already complex blend of hearty meat flavors. And a slab of imported camembert takes it to another level with creamy pungency. Topping it all were sprouts and a fried egg.
» housemade breads: $5; A plate of focaccia and crusty wheat bread with olive oil and herb butter, all fresh and delicious.
roasted benne’s farm chicken: $20;  Served in pan jus, this tasted like great chicken should: meaty, juicy and with a well-browned skin that added crunch and a little fat to each bite. The gravy was slightly thick and glistening, and it completed the goodness of the comfort food dish.
» montauk, n.y., scallops: $24; Good scallops need only the simplest of treatments, which is what these bivalves got. Seared for a slight crunch and an appealing brown color, they came with a caper lemon sauce that brought out their creamy, natural sweetness.
» chocolate chip cookies: While the humble chocolate chip cookie may not be everyone’s idea of a decadent dessert, the ones Devoti brought us off the menu were delicious in every way: buttery rich, slightly salty and oozing with warm chocolate.

5100 Daggett Ave. |  314.773.5553

the dish | Cheese Tortellini with JT Gelineau oyster mushrooms, spring onions, roasted tomatoes and chicken broth.