I met Andy Lane for the first time when he walked through the doors of my cooperative commercial kitchen and wanted to talk about pasta. People do this every once in a while, and I always enjoy it.
However, this meeting was full of crazy coincidences. We were both from restaurant families; his great-grandfather fled Sicily in the late ‘40s and ended up establishing the longstanding downtown favorite called The Grand Café and Deli. My grandfather had a diner called Kent’s Café, and a fried chicken restaurant called The Drumstick. We both have a love of Italian food, and we had both studied linguistics. He grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a mere 75 miles from the Wyoming town I grew up in. It was pretty uncanny.
The other thing we had in common is the fact that he was opening up a Mediterranean Restaurant here in Lincoln, and many years ago, I had looked into doing something similar.
Andy has now opened his own place downtown called, Dammi Dammi – which is Italian for “give me give me.” The brightly colored spot opened July 26 at 126 N. 13th St., right on the corner next to the Rococo Theater. As the name suggests, there are dishes from Italy, Greece, Spain, France and more.
The menu itself isn’t extensive. In fact, aside from the drinks and gelato, it consists of only 17 items. The interesting thing is – it is easy to find multiple dishes to try, because they are so diverse with such different flavor profiles. There are soups, salads, protein bowls and breakfast items such as the eggy French clafoutis. Dammi Dammi also serves a rotating menu of incredible homemade gelato, with flavors such as fiordilatte (sweet cream), lavender honey and bacon mascarpone, along with dairy-free sorbettos, like dutch chocolate, prickly pear, and melon and prosciutto.
So far, I have tried the Apaki Pork bowl – a cured pork loin, which is considered a Cretan delicacy, and is smoked using different combinations of woods and herbs. The harissa chicken bowl, currently the best-selling item on the menu, is made with tender chicken cooked in harissa sauce – a hot chili pepper paste from Tunisia consisting of roasted peppers, herbs and spices.
However, the shakshouka is probably my favorite. Shakshouka has many variations and is found in Palestine, Egypt, Israel and other parts of the Middle East. It consists of eggs poached in a sauce of stewed tomato chunks that have been cooked with onions, peppers, fresh garlic, olive oil and warm spices – like coriander, cumin and paprika. Few breakfasts are as satisfying as a warm dish of savory shakshouka, sopped up with a good piece of bread.
Dammi Dammi offers plenty of options for gluten-free and vegan diets, and the online ordering system is convenient and easy to use. It is currently open every day except Sunday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and it’s a great place to pop in for a healthy, satisfying meal, or a great cup of coffee.