Dining Detectives: Tavola Italian Kitchen – Novato
We love Italian Cuisine and are continually amazed that there are so many unique offerings at Italian Restaurants in The Bay Area. We had heard that East Coast Restaurateur Jon Paul Pirraglia had recently opened Tavola Italian Kitchen in Novato and knew we had to taste their take on Modern Italian Cuisine. The restaurant is charming, as there are candles on each table and multiple seating options including a round dining room with floor to ceiling windows. Outdoor seating is also available weather permitting. We appreciated the privacy between tables, light music in the background and that there is a low noise level for easy conversation. The focal point is the Exhibition Kitchen with Pizza Oven where you see Chef Rob Hurd and Chef Ryan Favini creating interesting Italian dishes using local sustainable ingredients and artisan meats. There is also a large chalk board on one wall where Tavola proudly lists their local purveyors.
We started out with a bottle of S. Pelligrino Sparkling Water, ordered Italian Wines by the glass and a small dish of delicious Olives with lemon rind. Our Antipasti starters were all excellent! We shared the Mussels and Clams Combo which was in a fabulous calabrian chili, dried oregano, white wine and garlic broth. We quickly filled the metal pail which was provided for our shells. Next, we had the Herb and Ricotta Meatballs which had flavorful tomato sauce with a kick of spice and plenty of freshly grated parmesan. We also enjoyed the Chickpea “Fries” which were a unique light starter that was served with black truffle aioli for dipping. We noticed that there were a number of other “Happy Diners” having the rustic hand stretched pizzas but knew we’d have to wait for a return visit, as we needed to save room for our other courses.
House Made Pasta was next and we chose the Hen & Pancetta Ragu Orecchiette Arugula which was wonderful and stimulated our appetites for our entrees. The entrees are all perfectly portioned and were so tasty that we finished them! You must have the Porcini Rubbed Seared Flatiron Steak with mandori balsamic and a side of your choice. It was cooked rare, as ordered, and tasted fabulous! We chose polenta for the side and it was creamy and wonderful. We also loved the Braised Lamb Shank served on a bed of polenta with olives. This was also perfect and the meat was luscious, falling off the bone. Try a side of the Braised Black Kale with crispy prosciutto and bread crumbs. We really appreciated that the menu is focused but also gives you a wide enough variety of options.
Tavola Italian Kitchen features an all Italian Wine List with options of 6 oz. glass, 18 oz. carafe or full bottles. We enjoyed the Bisol NV Jeio Prosecco from Veneto which was sparkling and light and the crisp and fruity 2010 Bortoluzzi Sauvignon from Friuli with our starters. The 2008 Paggio Pinot Nero from Veneto which was fruity and light and the heartier 2010 Pecchenino Dolcetto Di Dogliani San Luigi from Piedmont paired perfectly with our entrees.
The dessert that we really enjoyed was the Mill Valley Noci Coffee Gelato. It was smooth, refreshing , had an amazing coffee flavor and was the perfect light finish along with a piping hot double espresso to our fabulous dinner. Tavola Italian Kitchen is a great new restaurant with excellently prepared healthy and hearty Modern Italian Cuisine. Our server Alex, a Sommelier, had also lived in Florence so his knowledge of Italian Wine and Food made our dining experience very enjoyable. Tavola Italian Kitchen is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, offers Sunday Brunch and has a Happy Hour weekdays. We look forward to returning soon to enjoy the outdoor dining for Lunch.
By Carol & Joe Davis
Tavola Italian Kitchen
5800 Nave Drive
Novato, CA 94949