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A Taste of Italy

Story & Photos by Ken Levy

The formula for success can be complicated, indeed. But one thing you can bank on is the simplicity of the fresh, bountiful recipes served at da Vinci’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Eagle.

Dubbing itself “the local’s Italian restaurant,” daVinci’s has been cooking up classic Italian comfort dishes for about 20 years, according to co-owners Jay Hastings and Chef Tony Piotter.

The partners started working at the restaurant about 18 years ago, after daVinci’s took over the old Bank of Eagle building. The bank began operations in the building in 1910, and its historic bank-vault door is still in place.

Following its closure due to the Great Depression, “it turned into the Bank Club, a dive bar,” Hastings said, before becoming one of Eagle’s iconic restaurants. Hastings and Piotter purchased the business eight years ago.

“We’re mainly a New York-style bistro Italian restaurant, the kind of restaurant you’d find in strip malls in New Jersey, but done a little bit better and with a little more care, and all fresh food, prepped that day,” Piotter said.

daVinci’s touts its Tuscan-style sauce used in many of its flavorful dishes. Piotter said the beauty of Tuscan style is its simplicity: it’s comprised of stewed Roma tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and garlic.

“It pairs with everything on our menu so well,” he said.

So does the local theme. Hastings said they’re on a friendly first-name basis with many of the locals, and newcomers soon add daVinci’s to their favorites list.

“We have people coming in here three times a week,” he said.

Chicken parmigiana and spaghetti with meatballs top the list of house favorites.

“They’re out of this world,” Chef Piotter said.  “They’re untouchable by anyone else in this town, unless you pay a whole lot more.”

You can create your own favorite pasta dish with a choice of a half-dozen varieties of sauce. Or check out “Leo’s Favorites,” which include the Leonardo, featuring fettuccine with chicken in Alfredo; the Mona Lisa, offering angel hair pasta, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms and onions in a Tuscan tomato sauce; the Sicilian, a plate of spaghetti with spice Italian sausage and meatballs in meat sauce, and the Roman, a spinach linguine with bay scallops and shrimp in a spicy clam sauce.

Specialties include meat, seafood or vegetable lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, shrimp scampi, tri-colored three-cheese tortellini alfredo, and cheese ravioli with Tuscan tomato sauce.

All of their entrees come with bottomless house salad with homemade Italian dressing and Tuscan bread.

Whenever possible, da Vinci’s leans on regional northwest sources. Trout may come from Hagerman, and steelhead from the Columbia River. Most of the beef comes from Oregon and Washington.

daVinci’s has a full bar and offers free wine tasting and live music Thursday nights. They have a well-rounded Italian wine list featuring top brands, Chianti and specialty Italian wines including a super Tuscan and local and regional wines.

A separate daVinci’s operates in Hailey.

da Vinci’s 190 E. State St. Eagle, ID

Open 4 p.m.-10 p.m. daily; bar/appetizers at 4, dinner begins at 5

208.939.2500 davincis2.com