Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Tavola

Hmm, where shall I start...I guess at the beginning. We went to Spring a couple months ago, which is a fantastic seafood restaurant in Bucktown. We got into a lengthy conversation with our waiter about restaurants in both Chicago and New York. Everything at Spring is really top-shelf, and so I valued the suggestions he made. One of which was A Tavola, an Italian restaurant in Ukranian Village.

I looked up some reviews online, and they were all fantastic. And everyone seemed to be raving about the gnocchi. And about how the restaurant is in a cute little house. Say no more, I'm in. I made a reservation for Saturday night of this past weekend, when Howie and Gabby were here.

As you can see, A Tavola is indeed in a cute little house. Upon checking in the host asked if we'd like to sit on the patio. It was an absolutely perfect night outside, so of course we went with that option. He brought us through the house and through the kitchen where we got a sneak peak of a gorgeous plate of grilled vegetables, and out back to the patio.

The menu is small, but I can honestly say every single dish sounded amazing. We started off with a few appetizers - marinated and grilled vegetables, caprese salad, and a charcuterie plate (prosciutto, coppa, and capicola) with figs. Perfect. Except for the fact that I didn't take any pictures of this course. There were actually six of us dining together so I didn't want to scare our other companions who I had just met, and I was honestly enjoying myself too much to take a lot of pictures. But don't worry...did you think I would NOT document the gnocchi?

Next we ordered three pastas for the table to share. Two orders of the gnocchi with brown sage butter and parmesan, and tagliatelle with a braised lamb ragu.

Both pastas were out of this world. Their pastas are "fatta in casa", so you know they're going to be good. The gnocchi were unbelievably soft and pillowy, and the brown sage butter and cheese were a perfect accompaniment. I was focusing so much attention on the gnocchi that I wasn't even giving the tagliatelle much of a thought. But - and I'm running out of complimentary words here - it was so, so, so very good. The pasta was so fresh and light, and the lamb ragu was tender and flavorful.

For the main course I ordered one of the specials - grilled, marinated leg of lamb with roasted potatoes with parmesan crust, and spinach. As you might have already guessed, it was fantastic. I think half of us at the table ordered the lamb. And I did get to try a bite of one of the other specials - braised beef short rib with saffron risotto.

We got two desserts for the table - a wonderfully creamy, simple panna cotta, and some sort of apple tart/pie with whipped cream. And house-made limoncello.

Did I mention that dinner was amazing? A Tavola's food is so fresh, simple, clean, and authentic. The service couldn't have been better, we had some great wine, and we even got an impromptu neighborhood fireworks show since it was the day before the 4th. I try to stay away from saying things are "the best" because it loses its value if you say it all the time, but I can honestly say this was the best restaurant I've been to since moving here. I'm already thinking about when I can go back, and I hope it's in the very near future.

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