I’ve been meaning to visit A Tavola, the new Italian restaurant in New Paltz, since it opened in April in the spot where Beso used to be. Nathan and Bonnie Snow, the young chef-owners, were, by turns, chef de cuisine at Sfoglia, Manhattan’s hard-to-get-into Northern Italian spot — promising credentials. I haven’t made it there yet, but some food-loving friends recently did, and emerged raving about it. I’m passing along their comments.
The menu offers dressed-up regional Italian fare, and pasta dishes as half or full portions, so you can have a traditional three-course feast without being stuffed. My friend Larry reports that he began with poached octopus served with chickpeas, roasted red peppers, and taggia olives. “A wonderful combination,” he declares. His pasta course was a special: cacio e pepe — tagliatelle with pecorino and a “lot of pepper,” also deemed “wonderful.” (OK, he’s not a professional reviewer; give the guy a break.) His duck dish, which the menu describes as “La Belle Farm duck breast served with sweet potato, leg confit, kale, and cipolini hash” was, says Larry, “Delicious! It was two large chunks of duck, both pinkish, so the confit part confounds me. But it was the best duck dish I’ve ever had in the Hudson Valley.” (It turns out the duck leg confit is shredded and incorporated into the hash.)
John’s chicken under a brick, which comes with charred escarole, smashed fingerlings and jus, was “fantastic,” as was the ricotta gnocchi, made with peaches, roasted eggplant, basil and balsamico. Slow-roasted beets, lobster risotto, and rabbit cacciatore are other temptations. Desserts (which Bonnie makes), include lemon-honey semifreddo, and crepes with bananas and nutella. Prices are moderate, if a tad high for a college town (entrees run fro $22 to $27), though my friends say the food is worth every penny.
Before they opened, the Snows repainted and added a big wine rack and mismatched farm tables for that rustic look. The one drawback is the decibel level when the place is full, although that adds to the lively atmosphere.
A Tavola translates literally to “at the table,” but it’s used to mean something like, “Come and get it!” Sounds like a good idea to me.