La Tavola Trattoria
Virginia-Highland’s La Tavola is a multi-purpose restaurant in the best possible sense. Neighborhood hangout. Date night staple. Solo dining haven. Credit Craig Richards, who has been executive chef for six of the restaurant’s twelve years. In its earlier days, it was a bouncy spot to shovel down a competent plate of pasta. But under Richards’s direction, the tenor of the menu has grown more aspirational. I still order the easy-to-love manicotti filled with beef, pork, veal, and spinach, but now I’m also tempted by more regional Italian efforts like strozzapreti (a ropy pasta popular in Emilia-Romagna) tossed in rabbit ragù, olive puree, and pecorino. Bartender Alli Royce Soble is a single eater’s best friend. She spreads out a black napkin in front of your seat at the bar as a place mat and happily debates whether a glass of Barbera d’Asti or Dolcetto d’Alba would pair best with your veal saltimbocca.