Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: A Tavola

One of my best friends and co-workers, Beth, is moving to Denver in a few short days. You may remember she guest blogged here and here. Beth and I see each other all day, every day so this will be a huge adjustment for both of us. We decided to do a "last supper" before she leaves, since our love for food is one of the things we bond over. We've both been hearing a lot of talk about the new pizza place in OTR called A Tavola and knew this would be the perfect spot. They've only been open for two weeks, so we were hoping that was enough time to work out some of the kinks.

We headed there at about 6 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, and the place wasn't too crowded yet - although by the time we left at about 7:30 PM it was packed and there was a wait to be seated. When you first walk in, you notice the high, open ceilings, clean, modern lines and industrial feel to the place. At the risk of sounding cliche, I would describe the place as very "hip".  

After perusing the menu of pizza, bruschetta, antipasti and dessert, we knew we were going to have some tough decisions ahead. We wanted to try everything! We decided to try almost everything after some thorough debating and consulting with our amazing server, Kris. He had a lot of good suggestions, and you could tell he was passionate about the menu. Fully intending to take home leftovers, we ordered (prepare yourself for this long list) eggplant caponata and goat cheese bruschetta, sweet corn and ricotta bruschetta, dates, arancini (fried risotto balls), fig and prosciutto pizza, brussel sprout and bacon pizza, and grilled peaches for dessert. A lot of food for two girls, but we were up for the challenge!!

The food started pouring out of the kitchen rather quickly. First up was the eggplant and goat cheese bruschetta. One word - AMAZING! This was absolutely delicious! The bread was perfectly crispy, despite the mound of toppings on it. Could have easily been soggy, but it wasn't. The flavors of the eggplant caponata were wonderful. The eggplant was stewed in some sort of sweet/sour sauce and topped with fresh cheese and herbs.

Next, the dates were brought out. They were stuffed with house made sausage, wrapped in bacon and served with tomato sauce. These, too, were delicious! They were sweet and savory with the combination of all the flavors. They were a little bit chewy. We loved them!

The next dish was the sweet corn and ricotta bruschetta. I was a little hesitant about ordering this one, but I just went with it because it was unlike anything I would normally try. It ended up being just okay. I looooved everything we tried previously, so this one was a let down for me. Beth really liked it, but I wasn't crazy about the flavors or the texture. The bread was still perfectly crispy, but the topping was a little mushy.

The final antipasti dish we got was the arancini, which are fried risotto balls. I was sooo excited for these. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes - and who doesn't love anything fried? These were a no-brainer. They turned out to be good, but not great. Beth actually didn't like them very much, but I did. They were very crispy on the outside with cheesy, gooey risotto on the inside. Great potential, but the one downfall was that the risotto wasn't very flavorful. It was very plain. I found myself trying to get more of the salsa verde that was drizzled on the plate so there would be more flavor to the dish.

Finally, after all our grazing prior to the main event, we got our pizzas. After all, these were what we came for and what they're notorious for. Our server explained to us just how awesome their pizza oven is. It was imported straight from Italy and is one of only a few in the United States (Mario Batali apparently owns the same one). It heats up to 900 degrees and cooks a pizza in 9 minutes. Phenomenal! 

Beth and I were both getting pretty full by this point, but we at least had to have one slice of each pizza. I tried the bacon and brussel sprout pizza first (photo below on left), which was topped with fontina cheese. This had some sort of white sauce on it - definitely wasn't traditional red. This pizza was awesome! The crust was thin and crispy, the toppings complemented each other perfectly. Delish!

Next I tried the fig jam and prosciutto pizza, which was topped with fontina cheese and arugula. This one was even better than the other, although not by much. They were both excellent. The sweetness of the figs was perfect with the salty prosciutto and peppery arugula. I'd highly recommend either of these options....although I'm sure you won't be disappointed by any of their pizza options.

If you're thinking that after eating all this food, we couldn't possibly have room for're wrong! We read a description on the menu for grilled peaches and had to try them! But it wasn't the "grilled peaches" that rivoted was the accompanying lavender vanilla whipped cream that got us!! And yet again, we were not disappointed. This was sooo good. They gave us a very generous amount of the thick, fresh, homemade whipped cream (see photo below), grilled peaches and cherries, and chopped pistacchios. I normally am not a big fruit-for-dessert kind of girl. Give me chocolate any day. However, I will say, this was too die for. There was the slightest hint of lavender and vanilla in the whipped cream. I kept sneaking spoonfuls of just the whipped cream, although it was great with the grilled, carmelized fruit.     

A Tavola is definitely a must-try! It's a great addition to the Gateway Quarter of Over-the-Rhine. The food and wine were outstanding! The service was even better than the food! And the atmosphere is fun and exciting!


Food: 4.5
Service: 5
Overall: 4.5

A Tavola on Urbanspoon


  1. Just saw this place this weekend - sounds delish! Can't wait to try it!

  2. It was a great experience! I'd highly recommend it! And there was an easily accessible parking lot just a couple doors down on the corner...forgot to mention that in my post.