Every neighborhood needs a go-to kind of place where good food comes served in a cozy atmosphere at an affordable price. La Tavola is that kind of place. Owned by the Fifth Group, La Tavola does not compare to its brother, Ecco, but judging by the feel of the place, La Tavola wasn’t meant to follow in Ecco’s footsteps. Food here sways between acceptable to applaudable, never falling below or striving above and beyond.
apple ravioli with buffalo mozzarella and ricotta.
There are similarities to La Tavola and Ecco. Both menus are creative, both atmospheres comfortably hip, and both located in chic parts of Atlanta. The difference is in the food. A farro soup of pancetta, leeks and butternut squash was comforting but also plain and not in the least bit memorable. A curious combination of apples, buffalo mozzarella, and ricotta stuffed in a ravioli had the potential to be interesting but the various cheeses masked the most important and most interesting ingredient in the dish: the apple.
braised beef ravioli with thyme, marrow and a red wine reduction.
On the other hand, the smooth and lively braised beef raviolis with thyme, marrow, and a red wine reduction came together quite nicely and never got boring to eat.
daily special of gnocchi with roasted black trumpet mushrooms
In retrospect, I’m not sure how I feel about my decision to order the daily special of gnocchi with roasted black trumpet mushrooms. I usually stay away from ordering the “daily special,” which is often a restaurant’s way of clearing out the pantry, but I just couldn’t resist gnocchi. It’s one of my weak points. Additionally, to not order an item on the menu means that you guys won’t have the opportunity to taste what I claim to. Anyway, the gnocchi turned out to be difficult to finish. The roasted mushrooms were tender and perfectly prepared, but the gnocchi was both overcooked and far too starchy.
So while ordering the special may have been a basic ordering mistake, there’s another angle. Maybe this was a test of the restaurant’s creativity and/or execution with new dishes. I feel like kitchens whose menus never change become robotic in making dishes and no longer show off their true talent and creativity. If this gnocchi was any indication of the kitchen’s true creativity and/or execution, then I would say that the back needs some tweaking.
Pennoni with Rabbit
When I return to La Tavola, I do plan on ordering the baked pennoni with rabbit sausage and Swiss chard-bechamel. This was my first time eating a bunny and it certainly was different from any other meat I’ve had. Different in a good way because this dish had such great depth and individuality. Much like the beef braised raviolis, each bite was just as good as the previous.
semi-freddo with roasted strawberries
For dessert I managed to fit in a taste of lemon cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake and a semi-freddo with roasted strawberries. The best of the three was the lemon cheesecake which was not heavy, overly sweet, or one note. It was one of the few delightful cheesecakes I’ve eaten in a while that did not sink my stomach like a cruiser on Battleship.
Overall I think that if you stick to the menu at La Tavola, you’ll leave a satisfied customer. It’s the kind of place you can afford to visit more than once a week, and it has the kind of menu that calls for line-by-line exploration.