The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Tavola

Five Finds on Friday: Lindsey Nielsen

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Lindsey Nielsen, GM of Oakhart Social, which has just launched a charity cocktail series, where each month a staff member creates a special cocktail and chooses a charity to benefit from its sales. First up is Nielsen, with her Pretty in Pink, which combines Boodles Gin, elderflower, creme de cassis, lemon, and sparkling rosé. All profits go to SARA, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. Nielsen’s picks:

1) Mushroom Toast at Common House. “As a pescatarian, this smoked mushroom toast totally hits the spot. There’s a depth of flavor that’s often missing in vegetable dishes.”

2) Pretzel Croissant (Everything) at MarieBette. “Oh, how I love these. I often plan on saving half for my husband, but end up eating the whole thing in my car. Also, my favorite espresso in town.”

3) Cabbage with Black Vinegar at Taste of China. “It was hard to pick one dish from Taste of China. You’ll often find me and a bunch of industry friends here on a Sunday night. I think this one is off-menu, but the tofu in hot oil and the green beans with garlic are also awesome.”

4) Cozze ai Ferri e Pane at Tavola. “The whole dining experience at Tavola is so enjoyable. It feels like Cheers every time I go, and I know I’m going to get excellent service. Few things make my night like Collin bringing over a plate of steaming garlicky muscles. Extra bread please.”

5) Whole Flounder at Oakhart Social. “As a friend recently said, this fish is ‘stupid good.'” 

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Five Finds on Friday: Elaina Mangione

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Elaina Mangione, co-owner of Mangione’s on Main, which just celebrated its first anniversary. Beginning today, Mangione’s is offering a special $39 three course menu for C-VILLE Restaurant Week, benefiting the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Chef Mick Markley’s restaurant week menu includes dishes like Duck Confit on Pappardelle Pasta and Smoked Salmon on Bucatini Pasta. Mangione’s picks:

1) Happy Hour Oysters and Clam Chowder at Public Fish & Oyster. “Bert and I love going here for happy hour and having one each from ‘The List’ and a glass of ‘Oyster Wine.’ I love oysters on the half shell, and they serve up such an amazing variety each week. And, the clam chowder is so delicious and comforting on a cold day. If we are lucky, we get to sit at the end of the bar and chat up the shucker and John all night.”

2) Cotoletta di Matale alla Milanese at Tavola. “Yes! I do go to other Italian restaurants. Tavola was one of the first restaurants I visited when I started coming to Charlottesville before moving here. I love everything about this restaurant – the European feel, the smell of mussels smoking up the joint, and of course the Cicchetti Bar. My go-to there is the Alpha & Omega, which Steve or Rebecca start making as soon as they see me walk through the door.”

3) Pot de Crème at Oakhart Social. “This is hands down my absolute favorite dessert in Charlottesville. The textures of this dish meet all of my requirements for a great dessert.  When I am having a case of the mean reds, the only thing that can fix me is their Pot de Crème. And if they ever remove it from the menu they may as well be Sicilian dead to me.”

4) Prime Rib at Aberdeen Barn. “Who doesn’t love a hometown, old world steakhouse that serves up a delicious prime rib? It is always spot on. We eat at the bar, hang out with our friends, chat up everyone there, and drink good wine. This is definitely our go-to hang out when we just want to go for comfort food and great people.”

5) Dumplings at Duner’s. “Chef Laura Fonner is our current local celeb, and she deserves all the accolades. Not only is she an awesome chef, she also gives back so much to the community. I have had her dumplings every time we have been there, and watching her make them in less than 30 minutes on the game show has put me more in awe of her abilities. The flavors are so bold yet somehow incredibly delicate and composed. Now, if she would only make them as a meal . . you know . . . like 20 dumplings per serving.”

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Tavola’s Secrets Revealed: New book with recipes from Charlottesville’s beloved Italian restaurant

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As many Tavola regulars know, there is history behind the restaurant’s unusual take on carbonara, the popular Roman pasta dish with a sauce of eggs, cheese, and either pancetta or guanciale. While Tavola chef-owner Michael Keaveny includes all of those in his linguine carbonara, he also adds something rarely seen in the dish: sausage. Why? That’s the way Keaveny learned how to make it.

As a teeanger in Hartford, Connecticut, Keaveny lived just around the corner from the legendary Italian-American restaurant Carbone’s. Growing up, Keaveny says, it was “kind of a given” that he would work at Carbone’s as soon as he was old enough. There, where Keaveny started as a dishwasher before working his way up, the carbonara always included sausage.  That was the way Keaveny figured it was supposed to be made. Plus, he says, it was delicious. And so, when, many years later Keaveny opened his own Italian restaurant, his carbonara contained sausage, just like at Carbone’s.

Has it been a hit? Well, yes. Tavola recently marked its tenth anniversary, and in its first decade served 24,593 plates of linguine carbonara.

And now, you can make it yourself.

To celebrate the ten year mark, Tavola has released a book, tavola – 10 greatest hits, music and food, with recipes of some of the restaurant’s most beloved dishes. Because Keaveny’s ingredient-driven approach to food often minimalizes chef intrusion, many of the dishes are not difficult to execute at home. Available online and at New Dominion, among other outlets, the book also includes recommended pairings, both wine and music.

So, what sounds good with Tavola’s linguine carbonara?  Bod Dylan’s When I Paint My Masterpiece.