Italian for “Good Evening”, this is a greeting you know well if you frequently dine at A’tavola. Or if you’re Italian. We're going to focus on the former, but let me first clear something up: To say 'frequently dine at A'Tavola' is a truism, nobody's been once or twice. You've either never been, or you're a regular.
Opened about 10 years ago across the road from Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont, A’tavola is an unassuming Italian family restaurant. Another truism if ever there was one, because we all know about the relationship between food and family in Italy. Having said that, it is especially prescient at this fine establishment at the bottom of Africa, at least for Sofi and I.
You see, All the Wine has been quiet for the last few months, since the birth of our second child. The demands of raising two young children and earning a living have left very little spare time. But as we emerge from the fog we have to pick a story that brings us out of hibernation. A’Tavola is the logical choice. Because, family:
The day our daughter, Ines, was born I was sent over the road for the Saltimbocca alla Romana. When Adam was born, same again, only this time it was Tagliolini ai Funghi. Since then, many of our childfree evenings (and many child-full ones) have been spent in the company of our friends, our family and each other at A’Tavola. But it’s not just the familiarity, the relationships formed with their wonderful staff, or the 60% chance we’ll be sat next to Luke Dale-Roberts enjoying the Gnocchi Gorgonzola that makes A'Tavola special to us.
We also really, really love their wine philosophy.
And that's because the owners, Dave and Emma, really, really love their wine. They love it so much that they treat it as a fundamental part of their offering. Which is great. Because it is.
While many restaurants see their wine lists as an inconvenience from which they’re compelled to make a quick buck, A’Tavola sees it as an opportunity to delight their customers. You are welcome to bring your own for which you’ll be charged a modest corkage fee, but you don’t need to because their list is excellent, extensive, and exceptionally well priced.
Dave’s unique pricing strategy isn’t a % value mark-up, but something closer to a uniform ‘per bottle’ mark-up. Which masquerades as an incentive for the customer to splash out on great wine that will make their evening that much more memorable. Or, if you like, a way to attract your diners back time and time again. It will probably come as no surprise to you that they’re very big on repeat business. They're also full most nights.
Dave and Emma are smart.
Sure, a lot of their customers have no interest in the wine list. They’ll probably ignore the menu and order the same pasta and bottle of Sophie Te’blanche they had last week. That’s brilliant, and good for them. But if you do care about what you’re drinking, this is a somewhere you will feel safe. One look at the wine list and all of your anxieties will vanish as you berate your stupid self for worrying about it. Silly you.
Just relax. Take a load off. Dave, Emma, Jomo and the crew have got you covered.
Alheit Radio Lazarus? Yes please
Kottabos Grenache/Syrah? Empty it all over my face
Marc Morey Rully? Shut up and take my money
Naudè White Blend? Sold out! Well get some more, Dave. Dammit
Add to this the very friendly and proficient staff, head chef Jomo being a rock star, and the aforementioned Gnocchi Gorgonzola, and you have a pretty magnificent recipe for success. The kitchen and service staff at A'tavola deserve special mention for obvious reasons. In fact friendly and proficient doesn't come close. They know exactly what they're making, what they're selling, and they genuinely want you to enjoy yourself. They've become our extended family. You should go, they'll become yours.
Great food, great wine, great service, great people.
* Disclaimer: We were not paid to produce this story. As a matter of fact, we have paid a (thankfully) indeterminate amount to A’Tavola for the pleasure of their food and wine over the last 8 years, and will continue to do so for as long as they'll let us.