Where would Italians eat if they were to live in Charlottesville, VA? That was the starting point for Michael and Tami Keavney. In 2009, the response was to open one of the warmest restaurants in town, offering rustic Italian food with Italian philosophy: moderate portion size (meant to try several dishes in a meal), simple recipes, and few yet high quality ingredients.
Originally from New England, graduated in 1995 from the Culinary Institute of America, and after having worked over the course of 30 years in restaurants across the country, Michael started as Tavola’s executive chef following Tami’s guidance. Later he decided to step back a little to make time for his family. Nevertheless, he watches over the establishment closely in order for everything to flow smoothly in the open kitchen and front room on a nightly basis.
Some of the best burrata in the world is flown in freshly made from Puglia, Italy every Wednesday. The must-try homemade pasta options are Linguine alla carbonara, Papardelle ragú, and capellini gamberi “raucci” (with sautéed shrimp, tomatoes, capers, soave, lemon, garlic and melted Gorgonzola). Among other succulent main courses, we highlight Maiale Milanese (double h farm pork pounded thin and breaded with roasted vegetables) and capesante ai ferri (pan-roasted sea scallops, beet-leek risotto with truffle oil). Daily blackboard specials, often stellar, add to these options. Mussels and clams are Keavney´s favorites. To pair with the food, Tavola offers a great assortment of wines, mostly from the old world and with some American and Virginian options.
A couple of years ago Tavola opened the Cicchetti cocktail bar, a beautiful space behind the storefront restaurant featuring outstanding cocktails and some casual food treats (different from the restaurant). In our opinion, it is the best possible waiting room for Tavola, but also the choice for many folks who want to spend a full night at the bar, accompanied by some of the best bartenders in town.
Phone: (434) 972-9463
Hours: Mon-Sat from 5pm to 10pm.
Text and photo: Edu Bayer