Combining errands is always a plus, but especially during the holidays.
We'd heard the specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop D'Avolio in Williamsville was also serving food, news that gave us the opportunity to get a little shopping in and catch up with friends over lunch.
Located in the former Butterwood's location, my mom and I met Mary and her dad, Joe, for lunch.
Combining the retail shop with café, D'Avolio is a long, narrow space with about six bar-height tables with stools for dining. An open kitchen sits at the back. The walls are lined with shelves of gleaming bottles of olive oils, balsamics and gourmet gifts.
Lacking a coat rack (and no backs on the stools), we shoved our coats under our butts. Purses are difficult to manage, as the tables are small. Our advice is to leave coats and whatnot in the car. Just bring a wallet.
Ordering is a little confusing at first. After reading signs, we figured out we needed to fill out an order sheet and place it in the basket at the kitchen (yellow to kitchen, white for register). Staffers bring food and clear tables. Silverware, napkins and salad dressings are out for the taking. Drinks are purchased at the checkout area. Choices are basic (bottled water, iced teas, etc.), but no coffee or hot tea.
Selections are basic, too: salad, pizza or sandwich. All are $9.75 with the minimum ingredients offered. Additional ingredients cost $1 to $1.50. Sandwiches come with a cup of house-made soup (split pea or beans and greens on our visit) or side salad. Soups alone are $2.95 per cup and $3.95 per bowl.
We noted each order sheet has roughly the same ingredients, with slight variations. Mary and Joe decided on sandwiches.
Select bread: focaccia or homemade sandwich roll? Check. Select one protein: sopressata, house-made meatballs or sausage, prosciutto, turkey, chicken, tuna salad, ham, pastrami-smoked salmon or steak? Check.
Select a spread: house-made caponata, basil pesto, black olive tapenade, D'Avolio red pepper sauce or Tuscan herb aioli.
Select a cheese and a standard topping (lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayo, etc.). Select one additional veggie and so on.
My mom's salad sheet was almost identical. D'Avolio can showcase its oils and balsamics for dressing choices: a strawberry chipotle, a Persian lime and honey ginger, a California garlic and fig, and a Tuscan herb and peach on our trip.
A sucker for pizza, I went for the 12-inch square, Roman-style pie. I selected a base sauce from a list of homemade sauces that included red, white, black olive tapenade, red pepper and basil pesto. My topping choices pretty much followed the other sheets.
"Veggie" choices include the usuals plus great antipasti, such as artichoke hearts, D'Avolio stuffed olives (blue cheese, feta, garlic and pimento), spicy broccoli, marinated mushrooms, roasted beets, roasted asparagus and caponata. Tastes and textures come from the likes of sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and walnuts.
There were "oohs" and "ahhs" as the runner brought our food out, and it was just as delicious as it looked.
Joe thoroughly enjoyed his "I-haven't-had-this-in-years" split pea soup, while Mary noted a nice spicy kick to her beans and greens. Even better were the fresh homemade rolls used for their sandwiches. Joe's chicken and Mary's pastrami-smoked salmon both got thumbs up.
A hunk of focaccia arrived with my mom's giant salad – a nice mix of mesclun with her topping choices, including impressive roasted golden beets.
Halfway through, we noticed they had missed a couple of extra items she had checked. The boxes are teeny on the order sheet, so we could understand the error. Our advice would be to circle the entire item you want to avoid confusion.
My huge flatbread pizza arrived on what appeared to be a metal mesh plate.
A traditionalist, my pie was topped with red sauce, sliced meatballs, goat cheese, hot banana peppers, red onion and fresh arugula, which was lovingly (and lightly) tossed in olive oil. The homemade red sauce had a great tomato taste, as did the garlicky meatballs. The tangy goat cheese, the bite of the peppers and the arugula setting were perfect with the crusty flatbread beneath.
There was a lot of food. A pizza with cups of soup could easily feed two.
After your meal, be sure to check out the gourmet gift items in addition to the fabulous olive oils and flavored balsamics. We saw pastas, candy, kitchen gadgets, beautiful plates and coasters, dishcloths, salts, spices and other foods including local favorite Deb's Delights.
Where: 5409 Main St., Williamsville (810-9354, www.davolios.com;).
Kitchen hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday (take-out available).
Store hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.Wheelchair access: Tables are bar-height and close together.