August 16, 2012 Gemmayze & Mar Mikhael Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Tavolina: The Latest Italian to Open on Mar Mikhael
Non-smokers friendly
Casual Dining

Phone Number: +961 1 442244

Address: Mar Mikhael - Gemayzeh, after Kettaneh showroom., Beirut, Lebanon Leb


Price Range: 40-60 $


Welcoming: 3/5

Food Temperature: 8/10

Ambiance / Music: 8/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 20/30

Architecture / Interior: 7/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 3/10

Value for money: Soon

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Tavolina is an unpretentious trattoria, serving traditional Italian food including wood oven pizzas, pasta, risotto as well as poultry, fish and meat dishes. The decor is simple and atmosphere is homey although the lights are too dimmed for my taste. I like the idea of the table in the center, referred to as Dalla, of the restaurant which is used to prepare some of the signature dishes (grating parmigiana, slicing charcuterie etc) which relate to the name of the place.

The nice accordion menu sections:

  • Antipasti, Dalla Tavolina (this is prepared from the Dalla table, which also serves the dish of the day with products of the season), Primi Piatti, Pizze (16 different choices), Carne, Contorni, Dolci.

Notes on the menu that I liked:

  • -Kindly ask your waiter for our daily special.
  • -Gluten free pasta is available
  • -Some recipes contain garlic, nuts and gluten.

Today's Speciales: Brie, Piece D'agneau, Noix St. Jacques.

A Pleasant Decoration:

Lamps pending from the ceiling, black and white Damier tiles cover the floor, while a huge mirror on one side gives the illusion that the place is bigger, with a bar on the other side, and a black board with the daily suggestions over the cutting table. Wooden chairs and tables add more to the Italian feel with a modern touch felt with their big metallic pizza oven.

"I congratulate the owners for making Tavolina a smoke-free environment"

The annoying details:

  • I hate it when plates move from hand to another: Every dish exits the kitchen door is handed to the chef then transferred to the head chef then to the manager and then ends up between the waiter's hands before reaching its final destination - customer. Talk about germs transferring from one hand to another... that was all I could think about.
  • A restaurant with 12 tables needs more than two untrained waiters. Elie, our waiter, was sweating all night long even though the manager tried his best to help him out with the orders.
  • The owner, manger and waiter's stress is transferred to the customers: Cool down guys and let us enjoy a simple and calm meal the Italian way.

We ordered, and we liked:

  • Their daily cheese plate selection.
  • Their daily charcuterie plate.
  • Four cheese penne.
  • Pizza Siciliana.
  • Tagliata di manzo.
  • Tiramissu.
  • Ice cream from Hanna Metri

The overall experience:

La Tavolina has a strong potential of becoming one of the best Trattorias of Beirut with some fine tuning. Waiters should be trained to smile more and talk confidently. The restaurant's lighting should be a bit stronger (sorry for the bad pictures), the manager should be wearing clothes that fit with the restaurant's style especially that he is moving around the tables all the time, cheese and charcuterie platters should have a better presentation with bigger portions even if the price should increase and please accept reservations! The ice cream from Hanna Metri is the best thing this restaurant has to offer. Hanna Metri has indeed the best local ice-cream in Beirut.

Two months already and there's a long road ahead. Tavolina is potentially good restaurant.

Suitable For: Casual Dining





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