Can you believe it? I willing went to an Italian restaurant. I have been to La Tavola in the past but the past means a decade ago. Yes a restaurant that has been open for a decade, 14 years to be exactly. Obviously something is being done well.
Nestled (or should I say ROOTS in) Virginia Highlands just off N. Highland you will find this gem in the Fifth Group family. La Tavola is upscale Italian. Inside is a bit tight. Fortunately you can pass through the bar, tables and booths and enjoy sitting outside on the back terrace that has a little more breathing room. That is if you don't mind overlooking a parking lot prettied up by flowers installed in the grates that wrap around the second level dining area of the entire building structure. Once the sun goes down you won't even notice the cars below. Besides when the food and wine is good who really cares?
First up we got some of the magnificent assorted olives marinated in chili flake and citrus. Buttery, briney and flavor all going on in one generous bowl. You should be ok with gracefully managing discarding the olive pit from your mouth. It's a culinary casualty but can be done. I apologize for not providing flip cam tutorial how to do this but you're an adult. You can figure it out, right? DO NOT SPIT THEM OVER THE BALCONY. That's just tacky Y'all. My thought is the cheese and cured meat board perfectly pairs with this lush bowl of healthy fats. On it tonight is speck, proscuitto, house cured pork loin and house made soprasetta. All outstanding.
A special tonight on the week long tomato menu is pork ribs over polenta. We split that order (the kitchen split it beautifully for us) and a portion of Mushroom Ragu Tagliolini laced with truffle oil. Laced enough that you can taste that unmistakably divine flavor. Me, the pasta hater, was in heaven. This pasta was hypnotizing me with both texture and flavor. The ribs had a tomato jam like glaze and weren't the sticky bbq ribs you're thinking. We do live in the south so ribs we are predisposed to think of like this. This rib is elegantly roasted, no drippy sauce, but tender succulent meat falling off the bone and the polenta and peppers below offered a nice silky spicy contrast.
Dessert was all about chocolate at my table. Flourless chocolate cake with almond tuille and a portion of dark chocolate semifreddo. The cake is finished with olive oil and sea salt. I don't find the olive oil lending anything to dishes as a garnish. I've had it a few times and I could do without it but it's a nice idea. The cake however is excellent. Dense moist and super chocolaty. The semifreddo really is outstanding. Rich and studded with chocolate bits. Silk creamy and not at all hard. Easy to eat almost like a pudding but much colder. I could have eaten it all night long. The tiramisu sneaked in a hint of orange flavor. That flavor profile blindsided me in the best possible way.
Delightful attentive service by a staff that knows the kitchen, menu and wine list like their own hands. The staff also works really nicely as a team which is not terribly common. It really stood out and enhanced the overall experience.