Italian Done Different: North vs. South

So it might have been obvious to you guys a little while ago, but I just realized my writing transition from fashionite to foodie. Maybe not a total transition…probably just combination (gotta look nice to eat nice!)…but all I’ve done is eat. And, occasionally, write about eating. No wonder my clothes have been a little tight this season! It seems like every time I run into friends and family, I’m at a new restaurant or trying a new dish. Most recently, I had the absolute delight of trying two versions of incredible Italian food: La Tavola in Waterbury, Connecticut (website currently being revamped), and Renato’s in West Palm Beach, Florida.

La Tavola was a first for Jake and me, having heard about it for years from various family members, friends, employers, etc. The name was everywhere and its reputation was outstanding. La Tavola is known for its comfortable (yet glamorous) ambiance, extensive wine list, and never less-than-perfect menu. We splurged and made it our only dressed-up date night of the semester…and it was worth every penny.

Under recommendation from Jake’s mother, we started with the carpaccio appetizer – finely sliced, delicately seasoned, and drizzled with dressed greens and oil. We ate it too fast for me to remember to take a photo, obviously. We then split two entrees, both specials: a house-made fusilli pasta with bolognese sauce and ricotta cheese, and lamb with pureed garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. I’m a pasta buff, so I preferred the former dish, but both were truly delicious. The entire meal was paired with Little Black Dress Moscato for me, and Josh Cellars Cabernet for Jake. We finished with two desserts: their famous warm nutella cake and seasonal eggnog cheesecake with rum raisin sauce. I swore I was so full that I’d never eat again. My only and very minor complaint is that we were seated in the middle of the dining room, at a small, two-person table, so that all the other tables were surrounding ours and it felt like everyone was looking at us. Not the case, of course, but still. Would’ve preferred something more secluded for a romantic date.

Amazing handmade pasta

Amazing handmade pasta

Delicious dessert

Delicious dessert

In any case, remember how I said that thing about never eating again? I said it again a week later at Renato’s, after stuffing my face with their house-made linguini with marinated filet mignon tips and grilled vegetables. This meal was a little more rushed since we were trying to make a symphony performance (tough life, right?) but I’ll still happily rave about the 60 minutes I spent there. From the moment we walked in until the moment we left, we were treated like royalty. Fantastic house wine, fresh and warm rolls, candlelight…the works. I should mention that I was there with my mom, so I don’t know what the experience would be like for a bigger party or a date, but we had a great time and will definitely be returning.

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I had my doubts about Floridian Italian food, I’ll admit, but I was happy to find myself completely and totally judging a book by its cover (and admitting that I was wrong). Can’t wait to go back to either/both ASAP! What about you guys? Any favorite restaurants in unlikely locations? Sound off in the comments, and stay hungry, my friends.

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