A Taste of Tavola

Although Tavola is East Cobb’s newest Italian restaurant, The Gallucci family has been serving up Italian food in Cobb for years. “We are 100% Italian,” Nicole Gallucci tells us about her family. Husband Vinnie is in the kitchen cooking while Nicole works the front of the house. Her father-in-law Rocky comes in early to braise pork every morning. This place is truly family-operated. Let’s go inside and see how real Italians do genuine Italian cooking.
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First of all, don’t confuse Tavola with la Tavola, the Virginia-Highlands institution. We are in East Cobb in the old location of Ritters, which was an institution of its own, but rumor has it that they didn’t pay their taxes.
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Not much has changed in the building since Tavola (Italian for “table”) took over. You are still greeted by a refrigerator full of desserts, which scream out, “save room for us!” when you walk in.
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Did we listen? You will find out later. Also included in the new design is a new, cool wall mural.
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We get a really spacious booth tonight, which seats six, but it’s just the two of us. There’s plenty of room to spread out at our table. We get the last table, and a few minutes after we arrive, they are waiting in line at the bar.
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They must have heard we are here. The party goes wherever Date Night goes. We like to start the party with beer, but we don’t love the beer list. That’s OK, because we prefer red wine when we mambo Italiano.
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We each get a nice glass of Chianti, a Tenuta and a Ruffino. Both will go well with the feast ahead.

Because salad and rolls are included with our entrees, we decide to forgo the appetizers.
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They give you a lot of dressing with the salad, so if you would prefer less, order it on the side. The rolls are served in garlic and butter, because that’s how you eat them in Italian places. You can order them plain if you wish.

The menu is classic Italian with parmesans, pastas and eleven different pizzas. You can get your picattas, marsalas, saltimboccas and franceses here. Or you can order Nonna’s Sunday dinner.
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Even though it’s Friday, I order the Sunday dinner. I love Italian combo plates because it lets you taste a little of everything. This one comes with veal meatballs, sausage and Grandpa’s braised pork, all served over gnocchi. The meatballs are soft and tasty. You can tell that the pork has been cooking for a long time as it’s soft too, but in a good way. I would like a little more sausage because it is so good. My only complaint is with the gnocchi, which may be too fragile for this dish. Many of the potato-filled pillows get smushed by the heavy weight of the meat and the sauce. I might have liked it better on plain pasta. This is a lot of food and some of it comes home.

Eve stays with the classic theme and gets eggplant parmesan.
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It comes with a side of spaghetti. It’s made from fresh eggplant, not frozen. It’s breaded lighter than normal eggplant parm, so you don’t feel like your dinner is that heavy. Again, the portion size is large and we take some of it home to eat for lunch.

So do we save room for dessert? Yes, we do.
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This looks like cheesecake, but look again. It’s a limoncello cake with raspberry icing. It’s a light, sweet way to end our meal at Tavola.

The bottom line on Tavola: Welcome to the neighborhood, and Date Night is the first blog to visit! It’s nice to have a “grownup” restaurant in East Cobb where you don’t have to worry about the kiddies running around and misbehaving while you are trying to enjoy your meal. We had an all-adult crowd during our visit that was very well-behaved. Our server Robert knew the menu and he made some great recommendations. Come see the Gallucci family. They are cooking some great food and will send you home full.

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