For New Year’s Eve Dan and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, Tavolàta. We’re huge fans of Ethan Stowell’s restaurants and have tried How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies and Olives, and Tavolàta. Ethan Stowell has two other restaurants: Staple and Fancy and Rione XIII. I’m more interested in trying Staple and Fancy because I’ve never sat at a “chef’s table” where the chef picks the menu specifically for you. Dan, once he saw the photos from Rione XIII’s website, went to OpenTable and set up a reservation there sometime in January.
Here’s how I would describe each restaurant with photography by Geoffrey Smith:
How to Cook a Wolf – All of Ethan’s restaurants feature menus that are divided up with appetizer, pasta, and entree sections. Personally, I am just never excited by the idea of ordering one entree when you could get two more appetizers instead. Ideally I’d eat Tapas style meals wherever I go, and How to Cook a Wolf, though it does feature great entrees, has the most variety to their small plates of these restaurants. It is also the most intimate setting of the three – it is a small rustic bistro with an open kitchen.
Tavolàta – The most traditionally Italian of Ethan’s menus, Tavolàta is a huge, modern space, with a monster communal table, and fantastic pastas and antipasti. The first time Dan and I went, we were celebrating what was a pretty awesome day. I had just gotten out of an interview and been offered the job right on the spot, so Dan decided we should celebrate. We ended up at Tavolàta and absolutely devoured their charcuterie platter (which is generous and not pricey!), and their house made burrata, along with 2 pastas, and some pork belly. I ended up declining the job because it was only a short contract and the commute would have been murder, but I will always remember that day as a particularly good one, and Tavolàta is a big part of that memory.
Anchovies and Olives – We tried Anchovies and Olives a few weeks back when Dan’s friend John came to visit from the East Coast. Anchovies and Olives, as the name suggests, is a Mediterranean inspired seafood restaurant. We ordered castelvetrano olives, fried chickpeas and soft cooked eggs for the table – the fried chickpeas were addictive. And we all shared the dungeness crab fettuccine, smoked pork ragu casarecce, and the sea scallops. The dungeness crab fettuccine was devoured and so delicious, but I’m still dreaming about the casarecce which was probably my favorite pasta dish of all time – it was pure meaty happiness.
Staple & Fancy – (Is on our food to-do list)
Rione XIII – (We are going there this month)
Our New Year’s Eve dinner was a set menu but we split our plates because we love trying everything. Our meal started with a fresh oyster, which normally we’d probably avoid, but it was so fresh and actually tasty. We had tried the burrata and pork belly before, but this time the pork belly was especially delicious. The highpoint of the meal, besides the appetizer, was our pasta dishes which were rigatoni with spicy Italian sausage and potato gnocchi with dungeness crab. I was so full by the end that Dan ate 95% of the Zeppole (donuts) and Chocolate Semifreddo (chocolate mouse cake with a side of gelato). Ethan himself was there overseeing the kitchen staff and Dan wanted me to take a picture of him, but I chickened out.
Photography: Geoffrey Smith (except for my crappy iphone shot of the menu)