Chef and Restaurateur Nicola Accardi's Hell's Kitchen restaurant, Tavola, takes out of of the bustling Midtown streets and into a rustic Italian farmhouse, so fantastical it couldnt' exist in Italy, as it encombasses the best epicurean treats from all over the country. This Italian trattoria unites the regional fare of Italy, primarily Puglian, Roman and Sicilian, to create a singular experience all under one roof.
At the heart of Tavola is a massive 15-foot, 7,000 pound double wood-burning oven handcrafted by the Acunto Family in Naples, Italy from Vesuvio volcanic clay. The ovens burn with local cherry and oak woods, as well as California olive branches. The two ovens share one chimney—one oven burns at the 900 degrees required for “Vera Napoletana Pizza,” the other is tempered for roasting seafood, poultry, meat and even vegetables.
Tavola, which is Italian for table, welcomes couples or larger groups to oak tables throughout the rustic restaurant, which used to be a 120-year-old Italian grocery. And at the table, you're in for a treat, which is not Italian, for treat.
Tavola imports ingredients from Italy as well as from as nearby as Chelsea's Manhattan Fruit Exchange and Esposito’s Meat Market and transforms them into fantastic pasta dishes ideal for the New York pasta palate.
The pastas are all hand-rolled in house, from thin papardelle noodles to fluffy gnocchi. Seasonal specials celebrate the ingredients of the season and use Tavola's innovative spirit to create Italian dishes that may never be possible in any Italian city. Maine lobster, for one, never usually reaches Tuscany, but a recent creation of lobster ravioli in a rich saffron sauce, truly united American and Italian flavors in a wholly satisfying way.
For a more traditional take on Italian fare, opt for the Pappardelle with porcini mushroom veal ragu. The thin noodles perfectly fold into the hearty sauce, which feels a bit more delicate than other ragus, thanks to the soft texture and umami flavor of the mushrooms. Of course, the pasta is best topped with a fresh shave of parmigiano, and it has the cravable quality that will leave you begging for a seat at Tavola just for a quick fix.
In addition to pasta, sharing an authentic Neapolitan pizza is never a bad choice. The crust, made with 00 flour and very little yeast, rises for 24 hours, and then is topped with San Marzano tomatoes and olive oil from Sicily (also for sale at the restaurant), along with toppings including fior di latte mozzerella for a traditional Margherita or even fresh littleneck clams or hot sopressata.
For dessert, cannolis are the way to go, prepared with pastry shells flown in from Palermo Italy and housemade ricotta filling.
Tavola's regional Italian fare allows you to travel though the country- just look at their wine list- without going past Ninth Avenue, and enjoying regional bites in a comfortable, communal setting.
488 Ninth Avenue, 212-273-1181,1:00 a.m. to11:00 p.m., with dinner every night from 5:00 p.m. The lunch menu is available weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with a limited menu available from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Farmhouse brunch is available on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.