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Eats and Drinks

Best Italian Restaurant

La Tavola

248 Albemarle St., (410) 685-1859

Posted 9/13/2000

This is a tough category. Everybody loves Italian food, and everybody and their mother has a favorite spaghetti joint. Well, go tell it to the Readers Poll, pal, because for our money--and for the years that trying to park in Little Italy inevitably shaves off our lives--La Tavola has Baltimore's best Italian food. We say so with a few caveats. The place has gone through periods when it seemed chronically understaffed, resulting in patience-stretching waits between courses and up-and-down food. (Although on recent visits the service has been impeccable.) Also, it didn't take long after La Tavola opened and was hailed (by this paper and elsewhere) as an affordable alternative to its neighbors that its own prices started going up, steeply. But you'll still probably pay less here than at other Little Italians (especially if you skip the invariably wonderful-sounding but budget-busting nightly specials), and for fresher, more eclectic, and better-tasting food. The smart diner at La Tavola will avoid the noodle-ranch clichés like lasagna or spaghetti Bolognese in favor of the restaurant's creative homemade-pasta dishes, intriguing salads, and truly great desserts. The calamari alla griglia is a standout, perfect by its tender, lemony self or over black linguine, and the kitchen also has a way with a tomato-vodka-cream sauce. The signature dish, mafalde alla fiorentina, is a symphony of the subtle flavors of spinach, pine nuts, raisins, and ricotta, with just a kiss of nutmeg. And be sure to save room for dessert--the tiramisu here is worth every creamy calorie.

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Other Awards for Best Italian Restaurant:

Café Gia, 9/16/2009

Chiapparelli's, 9/17/2008

Amicci's, 9/19/2007

Café Amore, 9/20/2006

Amicci’s, 9/21/2005

Sabatino’s, 9/22/2004

Aldo's, 9/17/2003

La Scala, 9/18/2002

La Scala, 9/19/2001

Fazzini's Italian Kitchen, 9/15/1999

Amicci’s, 9/18/1996

All Awards for La Tavola:

Best New Restaurant/Best Italian Restaurant, 9/17/1997

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