The lunch buffet is always a dilemma. To indulge or not?
I found myself in Lewiston a few weeks ago with an hour between appointments and a craving for Italian food. Baked ziti was the front-runner in my mind, with chicken parm closing in fast. Then again … lasagna.
When I settled in at the bar at DaVinci’s Eatery at the Bates Mill, I ignored my cravings and opted instead for the daily lunch buffet ($10.95), which includes none of the above. At DaVinci’s, the lunch buffet includes a limited selection of soups, salads and pizza, all you can eat.
My reasoning was sound, at least by my thinking: Pizza offered the bad-food indulgence I was craving, and the salad made me feel less guilty about it. The soup — chili, it turns out — was just to warm me up. The buffet, available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, was good value, given the quality of the food.
I started with soup and salad, and appreciated not just the warm temperature of the chili (it was a blustery day) but also its bite. It was spicy hot, but not overly so. Generally, I stay away from spicy-hot foods, and this chili was just right. It was chunky and thick, with a nice blend of meat and beans. I added crackers for more sustenance.
The salad bar featured a small array of expected lettuces and vegetables, as well as potato and pasta salads. There were no surprises, and there was nothing exceptional about it. If anything, I judged it short on variety and inventiveness. But what DaVinci’s offered was fresh and crunchy. I loaded my plate with a mix of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, celery and a few other items and lathered it with one of the unmarked dressings that looked the most like ranch. I guessed right.
For pizza, I chose slices of pepperoni and cheese. There were two other choices, including a veggie pizza of some kind and what appeared to be a dessert pizza. The dough was thin and chewy, and the ingredients generously proportioned. I especially loved the pepperoni, which was thinly sliced and not at all greasy. The cheese pizza was gooey and stringy, just as I like it.
The other bonus of this meal were the garlic knots, which my attentive bartender offered along with a tall glass of water as soon as I took my seat. DaVinci’s is known for its garlic knots, and I was pleased to be given a basket of three. I ate one with my chili, one with my salad and one after I finished my four slices of pizza.
I didn’t satisfy my craving for ziti or some of my other favorite Italian plates, but I still managed to indulge, and didn’t regret a single bite.
WHERE: 150 Bates Mill, Lewiston; davinciseatery.com; 207-782-2088
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
WAIT: No wait for the lunch buffet
PARKING: Plenty of parking the Bates Mill complex
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes