Tavola is a West End neighbourhood restaurant, serving modern Italian food. Welcoming you is the team who brought you previous local heroes Tapastree and Nook.
When I sat down, the server sat down next to me and my dining partner to talk about the menu. I personally don't like that very much... but I can live with it. But he kept saying over and over, "Do you know what I want you to have?" "Do you know what I want you to try???" etc.
It was all about him, and not about us at all. So we went with his recommendations anyway, considering that we would have ordered more and spent more, we thought, 'ok, let's spend less, then.' So we did.
The antipasto was ho-hum, though the way the server talked about it, you'd think heaven had opened a restaurant on Earth. It wasn't *that* great, buddy.
The main WAS excellent - rabbit. It was cooked so very well - it was beautiful. And I did appreciate the wine list. I thought it was well done, and varied. The server did know his wines.
The waiter came off as very aggressive and tried to get us to order a certain amount - maybe afraid we wouldn't order all that much; we had come out with the intention of dropping some coin and eating some good food - so his strategy backfired. It left us both feeling very uncomfortable - and with no intention to return, despite the fantastic main courses. Tavola is not Vancouver's only restaurant.
Not being from Vancouver I came here on the advice of friends. I could not understand why this place was recommended after my visit. The service bordered on hostile after I asked a few questions about the food and the food itself was just so so. My family background is Italian and momma never made food like this. The pasta was salty and the chicken was very dry. I have to say I have tried many better restaurants in Vancouver and much better Italian.
I have dined at Tavola on my way home from work more times than I would care to admit. I can't seem to find fault with anything about this neighbourhood gem. Yes, there are too many Italian restaurants in this part of town, but this one rises above.
I usually choose something from the chalkboard, which changes daily, but there are a few standouts on the regular menu as well. Their simple spaghetti with tomatoes is bursting with flavour. The crostinis are fun to share and my favourite is the chicken liver with balsamic onions. Unless the board that day has the avocado w/shrimp crostini – I’ll have that with a glass of wine, some dessert, and call it supper. Their toffee pudding is a dream. As for the Big Plates, you can feed several people with one of these with some shared pasta. Try the Brick Chicken – juicy, crispy, and rich.
As for ambience, it is a warm, wonderful, inviting, home-away-from-home with interesting background music that is neither too loud nor too quiet. The bartenders are friendly yet non-intrusive. And the low staff turnover makes it a place where everybody knows your name . . . See you there.
My ideal restaurant:
1. Serves food with heart and soul, delivering a product that is delicious and original, even extraordinary.
2. Has warm and inviting interiors, setting the stage for an evening away from the world, in which the diner can have an escapist, even aesthetic experience while dining.
3. Has servers who wear their own clothes rather than uniforms, who exhibit their own genuine enthusiasm for the food and which does not show sign of degredation or slavery in its employees. Staff are allowed to breathe and have a good time, encouraging the same in their guests.
All points were covered. Food was incredible. My wine, Bruschetta with Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala, Linguini alla Vongole with uni butter and after dinner Affogatto were to die for.