A Tavola opening soon in Gateway Quarter

A Tavola interior, photo by Emily Schneider

The guys behind A Tavola want to make their customers happy. It’s immediately evident in their menu, drinks and wine selection, and in their welcoming Over-the-Rhine space.  They even designed their open kitchen so that they could see their patrons react to the tasty food and drinks being served up starting soon (stay tuned on their Facebook page for more specifics).

A Tavola will be the third restaurant open for business on Vine Street between 12th and 13th in the Gateway Quarter district of Over-the-Rhine.  Cincinnati natives Bill Draznik, Jared Wayne, and Sam Ginocchio will primarily be serving up Neapolitan style pizza cooked in an oven that was custom crafted in Naples, Italy, which happens to be the birthplace of this style of pizza. The brick oven weighs as much as an empty school bus and can cook a pizza in 90 seconds or less depending on the fresh ingredients you order. Only about a dozen of these Stefano Ferrara-crafted ovens can be found throughout the states, and you’ll be happy one of them is right here in Over-the-Rhine.

“A Tavola” (pronounced “Ah Tahv-ahla”) is an Italian phrase that literally means “to the table”, but is used by gracious Italian hosts everywhere as a “welcome, come eat.”  The name is fitting; Bill, Jared, and Sam are seeking to create an inviting atmosphere as comfortable as going over to a friend or family member’s home for delicious food that is created with care.

Their 14” pizzas will be made with hand-mixed dough, San Marzano tomatoes, and several locally sourced ingredients.  Prices will range between $10 for a classic margarita, $11 for veggie options, $12 for meat options, and $14 for a pizza that uses a fig reduction as sauce and prosciutto and balsamic arugula salad as toppings.  While a hungry patron could probably take down one of these pizzas by himself, A Tavola recommends splitting several amongst a table of friends so that you can sample from their selection of pizzas ranging from traditional (margarita) to non-traditional (sweet pea and bacon), and maybe you’ll find a new favorite along the way.

As an example of the care being put into each of the ingredients, Bill, A Tavola’s charcuterie, will cure their slab bacon for a week and then smoke it using applewood.  The advantage of slab bacon is the ability to cut thicker slices so that, when cooked, the bacon has crispness on the outside and tenderness on the inside. The pork for A Tavola’s homemade hot Italian fennel sausage, bacon, and pork shoulder will come from the Dean Family Farm in Georgetown, Ohio, which also supplies Boca in Cincinnati.

front tables - photo by Emily Schneider

Every good pizza is made even better with drinks, and drinks are definitely not an afterthought at A Tavola.  There will be eight beer-friendly drafts and 15 bottle beers available.  Not to be outdone by the communal nature of the pizza, draft beer will also be available by the pitcher!  A slew of craft cocktails will also be featured, including classics as well as modern interpretations creatively designed by Sam, the genius behind the bar.

What is a good Italian restaurant without a fantastic wine selection?  There will be five red and five white wines available, each at $25/bottle or $7/glass.  These 10 ‘table’ wines were carefully selected with the help of level-2 sommelier Eric Faber, and are all set at the same price to make them more accessible to someone who is not exactly a wine connoisseur.

It is this thoughtful combination of personal touches throughout the restaurant, born out of passion for serving great food, that are sure to make both you and your stomach happy, and will keep you coming back to A Tavola for more.

CDFC $2 million closer to investing in Northern Kentucky’s urban neighborhoods

Thanks to an equity investment from PNC Bank, the Catalytic Development Funding Corporation (CDFC) of Northern Kentucky is $2 million closer to its $10 million capitalization goal. With the recent investment, the Catalytic Fund is up to $6.5 million.

Once the $10 million goal is met, CDFC will begin making targeted investments in catalytic development and redevelopment projects in northern Kentucky’s urban neighborhoods in order to spur additional investment and revitalization in the area. The Catalytic Fund investments will provide patient capital for projects that could not occur due to private capital market constraints.

Patient capital does not always take the same form, but generally it is more flexible and willing to accept more risk than conventional funding. The purpose is to fill in gaps in a financing package to make a project more attractive to primary lenders. Patient capital tends to be the first money into a project and typically is repaid after the primary loan payment is made each payment period. This is a similar model that 3CDC uses when deploying Cincinnati Equity Fund capital.

In addition to providing patient capital for development projects that meet the Catalytic Fund’s investment criteria, CDFC will also facilitate development by acquiring land for future projects, providing technical assistance to developers, and recruiting developers to participate in northern Kentucky’s urban renaissance.

The CDFC and the Catalytic Fund will be in very capable hands. Jeanne Schroer, the executive director of CDFC, has over 25 years of experience as a real estate professional specializing in project financing.

The CDFC and the Catalytic Fund were created in 2008 based on a recommendation by the Urban Renaissance Action Team of northern Kentucky’s Vision 2015 planning initiative. Since the fund’s inception, Jeanne Schroer has been working tirelessly to raise $10 million during tough economic times. This is a list of all the contributors to the fund so far:

Photo courtesy of Jeanne Schroer

Dogfish Head beer tasting at The Lackman tonight

The Dogfish Head Brewing Company will have their Midwest representative visit Over-the-Rhine tonight, from 6pm to 10pm, for a beer tasting event at The Lackman.  The event is part of The Lackman’s monthly tastings which previously have featured the beers of the Bell’s Brewery and Stone Brewing Company. The events have been well attended, so come early if you hope to grab spot at the bar or a table.

The Lackman’s manager, Tabb Harrison, says that he hopes to provide patrons the opportunity to sample a selection of beers from a featured microbrewery in one night during these monthly tastings. While it may be possible to try some of these beers individually on occasion throughout the city, it is certainly not possible to try all of the limited releases and rarities on-hand in a single night.

The following five Dogfish Head “off-centered ales for off-centered people” (as the company’s motto goes) will be the featured beers on tap for this month’s tasting event along with an additional surprise.

  • Palo Santo Marron- 12% abv, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the Palo Santo wood.
  • Red n White- 10% abv, belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice.
  • My Antonia- 7.5% abv, continually-hopped imperial pilsner.
  • Burton Baton- 10% abv, two ‘threads’ of beer: an English-style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA, a blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak.
  • 90 Minute Imperial IPA- 9% abv, A big beer with a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate.

Organizers of the Dogfish Head tasting event also say that there will be an additional surprise this month. It has not been confirmed, but a reliable source has alluded to a special animal, commonly affiliated with Dogfish Head, making a guest appearance. For those connoisseurs, and regular beer enjoyers like myself, not content to simply taste the beers will be treated to discussions with Dogfish Midwest representative Don Bichsel and Cavalier Distributing representative Brandon Hagedorn.

According to Harrison, pints of the featured Dogfish Head beers will run between $6 and $8, depending on the rarity of the brew.  Additionally, there is a possibility that a tasting flight of the brews will be available (this is TBD). The Lackman drink menus set up at each table and along the bar will be augmented with information about each of the featured brews.  Bottle opener key chains in the shape of Dogfish Head’s logo will be given out with pint purchases for free while supplies last.  Additionally, Dogfish t-shirts, hats, and pint glasses will be available for purchase.

Gourmet pretzels from Yankee Doodle Deli in Covington will be available, and both Senate and Lavomatic are immediately nearby ready to cure your post-delicious beer munchies (neighborhood insider tip: send a group ambassador to put your name in at your restaurant of choice as these tasting events have been known to correspond with busy nights at both neighborhood restaurants).

Future tastings at The Lackman (map) will typically take place during the last week of each month, and include no cover charge.

The Lackman photograph by Andrew Oehlerking