We lived around the corner from a pretty infamous place: Manganaro’s. There were 2 restaurants: Manganaro’s Hero Boy and (the late) Manganaro’s Grosseria. They were side by side and the grocery displayed a sign very specifically stating that they had no affiliation with Hero Boy next door. It was a very long family feud and the restaurants had both been there for over a hundred years. Anthony Bourdain had famously lived in an apartment above these restaurants before he made it big. He even featured them on a show a few years back.
I ate there once, and they had a group of Italian ladies fighting and cursing pretty constantly in the background, while cranking out awesome old fashioned Italian food that they served on floppy paper plates.
But then, they closed. After all those years.
A new restaurant quickly started going in, and last week, the NY Times featured this new restaurant, Tavola, in an article. Tavola opened on Friday (or thereabouts) and we went for a late night dinner.
The menu is full of the classics.
And they kept many pieces of the Grosseria as it was, giving it a bit of flashback to days gone by.
They kept the old ceilings.
And the very pretty old sky light in the back.
They built a brand new oven that was quite beautiful.
And they are doing their pizzas in this wood burning oven.
It is a good mix of new and old, and it was instantly comfortable. Even though it just opened, by keeping a lot of the old design, it felt somehow as if this place had been there forever.
When we entered, it was pretty full and service was buzzing. There was some confusion and we waited a bit too long for things like bread, water, and the check, but it was obvious that there were just small kinks that needed to be ironed out.
We started with hearty bread. It was well flavored and good and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
We had the arugula and fire roasted artichoke salad. This was good, with a very nice dressing. I wanted more flavor and more quantity of artichokes, but overall it was a nice starter.
We then tried the wild boar and veal meatballs, with fresh mint and pine nuts. These had a very nice flavor and the mint was a nice compliment.
Then we had the lasagna with veal meat sauce. I really loved this dish. The noodles were thicker and really held up to the layers. The sauce was great and this tasted like everything you want from classic Italian.
Overall, everything we had was very good and very hearty. I can see this becoming a really nice, local place to eat on a cold night. As they iron out some of the service issues and get cranking, I can see them doing a very good business here in the section just south of Hell’s Kitchen.
The neighborhood is really growing with tons of new restaurants and building, and I’m glad to have Tavola as part of that growth.
Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10