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 executive chef Brent Banda. In its earlier days, it was a bouncy spot to shovel down a competent plate of pasta. Now, 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.