A Tavola: A Review

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Saturday evening, we dined al fresco at A Tavola in The Bottleworks off Prince Avenue as an early celebration of my father's birthday. It wasn't my first time at the revived Italian eatery, but the restaurant continues to make an impression on me.

For starters, the service is outstanding. I've never been that I didn't find the waitstaff knowledgeable about the menu, specials and wine selection in addition to being refreshingly pleasant (a trademark not to be found at all Athens dining establishments).

On the patio, we enjoyed a light breeze, lights in the trees and delicious homemade bread with a splendid salted and seasoned crust. Two in our dining party ordered salads - a traditional Caesar topped with curls of Parmesan and a house salad that I envied when it arrived at the table, bright with corn, spring mix and tomatoes. The entrees filed out next: Parmigiana di Melanzane, a deep-dish interpretation of eggplant parm; two plates of Tagliolini al Funghi Misto, a mushroom pasta; and Dad's Tagliata, a ribeye fit for a birthday celebration.

The eggplant parm was piping hot, perfectly seasoned and surprisingly light for such a traditionally heavy dish. The mushroom pasta featured a bouquet of fungi tossed with tagliolini pasta and garnished with a Parmesan cream sauce. It had a rich, full, fragrant flavor. Dad might have taken first place with his ribeye, dressed in a balsamic reduction and accompanied by roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach. Not a morsel was left on anyone's plate.

The final touch to our evening was the tiramisu. At A Tavola, the tiramisu is individually made in a white porcelain bowl. The ladyfingers are in the bottom, steeped in espresso, and topped with a decadent Italian cream. Finished with a fine dusting of cocoa, this dessert is a do-not-miss. It's enchanting. And enrapturing. And...well...really, really delicious.

So next time you're thinking of going Italian...think about A Tavola. The atmosphere is lovely, the service is gracious and the food is delicious. Plus, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you can check out one of their brick oven pizzas. Even though your pants might not thank you, your stomach will.


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