We’ve only been Minneapolitans since August so we’re still discovering a lot about this area. (For example, I just had to Google “What do you call someone who lives in Minneapolis?” so I could write the first sentence of this blog.) Fortunately, since we moved here at the end of summer, one of our favorite restaurants happens to be one we can literally see from our apartment window. How lucky is that?
Tavola Italian Kitchen and Bar opened in late September 2018 and is situated inside the Elliot Park Hotel. Tavola is the Italian word for table, and the atmosphere of the restaurant, with its wood-fired oven right off the bar, has a welcoming and warm appeal.
We’ve enjoyed the cuisine at Tavola a few times since our initial visit in early October. Our friend, Emily, was visiting for the weekend, and this Italian restaurant was the perfect location for a belated birthday celebration.
We were seated at one of the booths near the bar, and we all ordered cocktails to sip on while we perused the menu. Their drink menu is unique, and we all chose a different drink.
- Days of My Youth (top center in photo)
Lapsang Souchong-Infused Japanese Whiskey, Pineapple, Lime, Spiced Pear, Plum Syrup, Tiki Bitters
- On a Whim and a Prayer (bottom left in photo)
Galliano, Gin, Nocello, Honey, Lemon, Bitters
- My Green Fedora (bottom right in photo)
Bourbon, Lime, Grapefruit, Green Chartreuse, Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters
The cocktails were all perfectly crafted, but we didn’t realize how smoky the Days of My Youth drink would be when Emily ordered it. The whiskey in the drink is Lapsang Souchong- infused, and Lapsang Souchong is a black tea from the Fujian province of China, famous for its smoky aroma and flavor. (Thanks, again, Google!) Luckily, Scott didn’t mind the smokiness and was able to enjoy the cocktail, and Emily ordered a glass of wine.
Since there were three of us at dinner and it was our first visit, we decided to sample a lot of different menu items.
For the salad course, we ordered panzanella for the table, which was a mixture of cucumber, tomato, sweet onion, grilled avocado, fresh herbs, olive oil and red wine vinegar. It was refreshing and delicious.
For the pizza course, we ordered… wait, that’s not a thing? Well, it should be, so we invented it…
We were interested in their wood-fired pizzas so we decided to order the margarita pizza as a starter. Margarita pizza is one of my favorite pizzas, and this one did not disappoint. It’s a simple pizza with only four ingredients: tomato, basil, mozzarella, and black pepper. The crust was delicious, and the wood-fired flavor was perfection.
For our entrees, we all selected something different. Emily chose the fettuccini carbonara (guanciale, peas, cream, farm fresh egg yolk).
I chose the pan-seared salmon filet (grilled and marinated artichoke, fresh lemon, extra virgin olive oil).
Scott chose Conosco i Miei Polli (Oven roasted half chicken, stuffed with ricotta and spinach, served with walnut pesto, tomatoes, roasted parsnips). Conosco i Miei Polli is Italian for “I know my chickens.”
We wanted to knock out a few more menu items so we ordered Brussels sprouts and french fries for the table. Tip to all the parents out there – my mom never forced me to eat any vegetables as a kid (shout out to Marilou!), so now as an adult, I eat all of them, and even willingly order them at restaurants! The fries were great – and if any restaurant, no matter the cuisine, has fries on the menu, Scott and I will order a side of them. The Brussels sprouts were fantastic…roasted Brussels Sprouts with black truffle and lemon. You can’t go wrong with that combination.
While we were enjoying our dinner, the chef came out and stopped by our table. We found everything to be top-notch so it was nice to be able to compliment him in person.
To finish off our dinner, for dessert, we had the tiramisu. We don’t eat Italian very often, but when we do, tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts. Their version was great.
Since our initial visit, we’ve been back to Tavola a few times. On Election Day, they offered a free cocktail for anyone who had voted and had their “I Voted” sticker. We had voted early, so we pulled up our photo from the previous Saturday that showed us wearing our “I Voted” stickers, and the bartender gave us each a complementary drink. (The bartender laughed when I showed him the photo – he believed that we had voted so he didn’t really need to see the photographic evidence. I’m a rule follower – can’t help it.)
We happened to be there during Happy Hour, which runs 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. in the bar area only. We took advantage of the HH specials and tried a new item. We ordered the tortelli alla lastra, which is a fire roasted ravioli with walnut pesto. There’s an option to add meatballs to this dish so we did add a meatball. The dish had excellent flavor and was pretty filling.
Because of our apartment’s close proximity to Tavola, we’ve also tried their takeout option. One Sunday night when we didn’t feel like making dinner, we called in an order for pizzas. I was boring and went with the margarita again (it’s so good!), but Scott tried the totino’s traditional pizza. The totino’s pizza had mushroom, aleppo, sausage, salumi, tomato sauce, fontina, and parmesan. Scott really enjoyed it – the sausage and aleppo were a little spicy for my taste.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Tavola has quickly become one of our favorite places to eat in the Twin Cities. We are looking forward to trying more of their menu items.
This restaurant is a definite recommendation for anyone in the downtown Minneapolis area and deserves a dreamy gaze from MTM herself. (This is also what I look like when I think about the food at Tavola…especially that margarita pizza!)