In an ongoing effort to support local dining establishments during the pandemic, our writers have been enjoying a variety of takeout meals
from some of their favorite restaurants. Contribute to this ongoing series by sending your own delicious experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are restaurants I desperately want to survive, and Tavola* is one of them. Before COVID, each time we landed a coveted table at Tavola, we sat down knowing the food would excel, the service would be top-notch, and the perfectly curated Italian wines would send me back to favorite meals in Tuscany. And if we got “stuck” waiting in the bar, the mixologists’ cocktails were out of this world. It’s a place where my loved ones and I have marked joyful special occasions and toasted friends prematurely lost. This place is very dear to me.
All that said, Tavola offers easy online ordering and curbside pick up. These days, I often start with a gimlet. Tavola bartenders make theirs with pineapple-infused Tito’s vodka, lime, cardamom, and pink peppercorn. It goes down a little too fast.
Normally I’m a creature of habit, but at Tavola I struggle over what to order. I love the carciofi, traditional fried roman artichokes, served atop whipped goat cheese and garlic aioli. I adore the spiedini di gamberi, a pancetta-wrapped shrimp on a bed of baby arugula and oven-roasted tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I find myself returning to the burrata—gooey-soft and luscious mozzarella served with housemade crostini, arugula pesto, and sundried tomatoes. I often order the insalata verde, a simple local bibb lettuce salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, crunchy garlic croutons, and grated Grana Padano.
I’m also a sucker for the bucatini con polpette, the housemade meatballs with bucatini pasta, and the capellini gamberi raucci—sautéed shrimp, tomatoes, capers, soave, lemon, garlic, and Gorgonzola fonduta. (Ditto the pappardelle Bolognese, with housemade pasta.) But my heart belongs to the cotoletta di maiale alla Milanese—breaded pork cutlets (from my wonderful friends at Double H Farm) served over a bed of sautéed baby arugula and roasted Roma tomatoes, capers, and a creamy, buttery Meyer lemon sauce.
In my most recent Tavola takeout meal, I skipped the tiramisu. But I immediately regretted that decision, as Tavola’s compares to the best I’ve had in my many trips to Italy, finding the perfect balance of zabaglione and espresso-soaked ladyfingers. I guess that means I’ll just have to return soon.—Jenny Gardiner
Ivy Provisions reopened in October after being closing at the beginning of the pandemic, and on a recent Saturday I ordered online to avoid weekend lines. There were no customers ahead of me when I picked up my Winner, Winner sandwich—roasted chicken, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and green goddess dressing served on a baguette with a pickle spear on the side. The only complaint I had was my pickle was pitifully skinny and limp, but the sandwich made up for it with its substantial size. My favorite part was the contrast of the crispy bacon and baguette to the tender, roasted chicken. I wanted the sandwich to have a bit more kick or maybe more sauce, but that’s being picky. The green goddess dressing was sufficient. The rest of the menu is enticing too—the small sandwich joint offers immense flavors with its creations—and you can now get a free cup of locally roasted coffee with the purchase of a sandwich before 10am, Monday-Friday.—Madison McNamee
When I crave something different, I turn to Al Carbon. The restaurant’s specialty, as its name implies (Spanish for cooking over charcoal), is chicken prepared in a Peruvian-style charcoal oven. The locally sourced chicken is marinated in a blend of spices for 24 hours before being slow-cooked rotisserie style. It’s served whole, by the half, or by the quarter.
While you can order online or over the phone, I opted for DoorDash. I ordered the Para Papa, which includes half of a chicken, two sides, and one salsa. The chicken was tender and flavorful. The spot offers many side choices, from French fries and mac and cheese to roasted cactus and tamales, and I selected the poblano rice and street corn. The healthy serving of rice paired well with the chicken, and the street corn, slathered with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime zest, was a perfect combination of sweet and savory. For the salsa, I chose the jalapeño cilantro, which is mildly spicy.
I finished the meal with churros, rolled in cinnamon sugar. They had just the right amount of crunch on the outside and sweet Bavarian cream on the inside.
Al Carbon also serves an array of South American and Mexican cuisine—huarache, tamales, tacos, flautas, burritos. No matter what you order, the portions are substantial—I had food left over for lunch the next day.—Laura Drummond
*Tavola is co-owned by culture editor Tami Keaveny.