This will be my first attempt at a restaurant review, but one that was WELL worth it.If you remember days gone by when the corner of Milwaukee was known for Gullivers and later for Rossini's, you would probably agree that there was nothing much to brag about. From my recollection, Gullivers had a heavy sausage pizza that included a yeasty crust. Pretty good, but only once a year would we make the short trek. Rossini's, while seemingly set up with the standard Italian restaurant ambiance and a quaint litte bar, really didn't catch my attention enough to want to go back more than a few times a year; partly due to the location and partly due to a menu that you'll pretty much find anywhere. La Tavola, however seems to have created a something new and very different at this spot. The interior has been updated such that once you are inside you wouldn't know if you were in a white table, top end, downtown location or not; an awesome update to the previous look of Rossini's. One of the best ways to get people to come back to your restaurant is to not only give them great value for the money, but most importantly to make them feel welcome. They did both at La Travola. We had no illusions about what we would encounter, especially since we had no reservations; so walking in we were a bit leery. However, the wonderfully friendly server, took us to our table right away with smiles and lots of pleasant conversation. Very attentive and quick service soon followed. Drinks were fast in coming and the fresh hot bread was perfect. And a tough distraction since we had so many amazing dishes to choose from on the menu. I've been to lots of Italian restaurants and it never ceases to amaze me, that after assessing all the choices, I usually see so few items that interest me. Veal Parm, Eggplant Parm, Chicken parm, Masala. Vesuvio. Fettuchini Alfredo. All great meals, but I'm sorry, been there done that!!! If the restaurant is good, I'll grab any of those and if they are half decent, I ll enjoy them. This is all fine and good and I really love Italian food, but after a while I want something different. LaTavola has done exactly that; and they have created some very interesting choices. Along with the usuals I listed before, they offer two different risottos -( I had the veal risotto with asparagas and and vodka cream sauce ) - not all that common for standard Italian. Mine was cooked just right and the combination with the sauce was outstanding. On the other hand, the lobster ravioli that my wife had was other worldly! Along with sun dried tomatoes in a creamy basil sauce, this was one of those dishes that you will remember for the rest of your life and always want to go back just for that. There's only been a few like that for me - one was the tenderloin of venison at the old Le Francias in Wheeling. Sublime....this ranks right up there!I am usually the quickest to choose when it comes to ordering, but not this night. The rest of their menu was so interesting that I could not make up my mind. They had some kind of pizza or calzone with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes and on another dish I remember the mention of marscapone cheese. The gnocci came with beef tenderloin and carmelized onions - such a mouth watering combination. I didn't know what to choose. That almost NEVER happens to me. I now know we will have to go back soon to try some of the other choices. We could not have asked for better service. The live music was a nice touch, but i could live without it. Either way, this place works!!A bit pricy, but as I said, its value for your money, no question about it. I hope they stick around for a very long time and I look forward to eating there again soon. I encourage every fan of Italian food, not to miss La Tavola!
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