A Tavola has an offbeat charm. Don’t be put off by the exterior. Sicilian delights await within.
Inside, it is a bit of a squeeze. Intimate, as they say. It will be even more of a squeeze after you’ve stuffed yourself silly on authentic Sicilian food. And the food is the thing.
From the look of the place, you might be expecting a few simple pizzas and not much more but you’d be wrong. Pizzas are most certainly on the menu but there are all sorts of dishes, from Sicilian street food to decadently alcoholic tiramisu. What links them is the quality of the ingredients, with many shipped over from respected Italian suppliers.
Starters are not to be overlooked here. Panelle, in all their salty crispness, are the perfect accompaniment to a beer or a glass of Prosecco. You’ll also find whopping meatballs, and arancini alongside Sicilian favourite, sarde a beccafico (sardines stuffed with raisins).
Main courses are equally moreish in an oily, tangy, Mediterranean way. The recipes are family favourites, handed down from one cook to another which is why they taste so truly of Sicily.
Expect pizzas strewn with everything from garlic mushrooms, Parma ham and fior di latte mozzarella to Sicilian pork and fennel sausage, wild greens, roast potatoes, rosemary and chilli. Tuck in to some rather special pasta dishes – typical options include spaghetti granci (fresh crab with cherry tomato, chilli and dill) and classic casarecce a norma with its magical mix of aubergines, tomatoes, salted ricotta and fresh mint. Main dishes are tasty but very, very sausagey. The famous Sicilian pork and fennel sausage inveigles its way into 50% of the menu.
However, it’s the specials that are most special, made with the freshest market ingredients, seasonal, and with a serendipitous feeling because, when they’re gone, they’re gone. Passing pleasures like swordfish with a Sicilian almond pesto or ravioli filled with scallops and king prawns are just some of the chef’s fleeting inspirations.
There is also a very good kids menu and a family-friendly atmosphere. The wine list is ok but there’s a surprisingly exciting selection of Italian artisan beers and ciders – not just Peroni. Tiramisu stout for pudding, anyone?
It may look like it, but A Tavola is not just your standard suburban Italian. It’s Sicilian for a start.
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