Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tavola Italian Kitchen Brings Whole Pig to Novato

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

Working with local and sustainable produce and meats, and using the whole animal are some of the principles of Tavola Italian Kitchen – a newcomer on the Novato dining scene, located in the Hamilton Marketplace.
A pleasantly-dark and round dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed stone interior detailing, dark wood tables, and intimate lighting has a communal table, a semi-private enclosure with cozy banquettes, and a bar-type seating overlooking the open kitchen.

A duet of creative chefs Rob Hurd and Ryan Favini, always on premises, work here side by side, hand-rolling fresh pasta, grinding meat, and operating a wood-burning oven of enormous temperature from where some unusual pizza pies emerge seemingly every minute.

The menu at Tavola is short and sweet. Diverse antipasti include a plate (or rather a slate) of creamy di Stefano burrata with house-made tomato and honey jam, and crostini.

Herb and Ricotta Meatballs are made with veal, pork, beef, ricotta cheese, and are wonderfully jazzed up with spicy Calabrian chili.

Enticing ingredient combinations are typical for Tavola pizzas. On the night we dined, Anatra was absolutely divine with smoky chunks of duck leg confit, earthy Jerusalem artichokes, gooey Fontina cheese, and seared castelfranco radicchio – an heirloom Italian lettuce.

Some good Secondi include Wild Boar Sugo with wide flat ribbons of maltagliati and diced butternut squash, and Pork Milanese over cannellini and quartered Brussels sprouts, topped with a heap of mustardy arugula cutting through the richness of the breaded meat.

For dessert, an absolute must is a slender slice of a decadent chocolate tart with large crystals of sea salt on top and olive oil sprinkled around.

The wine list at Tavola is all-Italian, and therefore, splendid.
Chardonnay and Barbera d’Alba from Piedmont region are good choices for most of the dishes on the menu.
Tavola Italian Kitchen is located at 5800 Nave Drive in Novato, California. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Call for reservations (415) 883-6686 or visit: www.tavolaitaliankitchen.com.

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