La Tavola lives again. Krista and Rick Lopez opened the third incarnation of their popular Italian restaurant on March 18 at 1664 W. 1st Ave. in Grandview Heights. Since then, many of the regulars from the first two La Tavola restaurants have made the journey to Grandview.
La Tavola lives again.
Krista and Rick Lopez opened the third incarnation of their popular Italian restaurant on March 18 at 1664 W. 1st Ave. in Grandview Heights.
Since then, many of the regulars from the first two La Tavola restaurants have made the journey to Grandview.
“It’s amazing to see our old regulars coming all the way from Powell to eat at our place,” said Mrs. Lopez. “It’s like seeing old friends again.”
The first La Tavola opened in Powell in 1999.
“It was in the middle of a neighborhood where people could literally walk to the restaurant, which was great,” she said. “Unfortunately, the building couldn’t handle the capacity we put it through. It wasn’t built as a restaurant. It had been a hobby shop. We had serious plumbing issues."
In 2006, they closed the Powell restaurant and reopened at 6125 Riverside Dr. in Dublin, which is now home to Cafe Istanbul.
“We were blinded by the beauty of the spot, with the glass wall overlooking the river,” she said. “We did well there, but we didn’t get the best deal on the space and, in 2009, when the recession hit, it caught up with us. We had to throw in the towel at that location for financial reasons.”
Having opened and closed twice, the Lopezes tried to decide what to do next.
“It was almost too painful to do Italian again. It was hard to close La Tavola; it was like our child,” Mrs. Lopez said. “We did some soul-searching. We’d been bitten by the restaurant bug. We wanted to try something totally different, so we went Downtown and opened Knead.”
Knead, at 505 N. High St., was a diner focused on locally grown and made ingredients, serving up Motherclucker chicken sandwiches and killer gourmet Bloody Marys.
The two recently closed Knead and sold the assets to someone who plans to open a gourmet fried chicken restaurant in its place.
“We are looking at reopening Knead in another location, though,” she said.
Knead did well, but the concept wasn’t the right fit for the area or the Lopezes, she said.
“In hindsight, now we know we thrive best in a smaller community atmosphere with a regular customer base where we know their name and see them a few times a week. We missed that.”
In that way, opening La Tavola in Grandview represents a return by the Lopezes to their comfort zone.
“We gave it our college try Downtown, but Rick desperately missed cooking Italian. It’s in his blood,” she said.
Even though his last name is Lopez, he is “three-quarters Italian. His grandmother taught him how to make gnocchi. Italian is his roots. He was fine making sandwiches, but handcrafted pasta and making sauces from scratch is his passion.”
La Tavola’s menu features some of the restaurant’s classic favorites such as Saltimbocca La Tavola, but includes new items inspired by Mr. Lopez’s experiences learning the art of charcuterie in Italy.
“In the future, once the routine is down, we want to try to cure our own meats and cook using every part of the animal,” Mrs. Lopez said. “We have grown a lot.”
Grandview seemed the only logical location for the new La Tavola, and the current space is one they originally looked at in 2009 as a possible location for Knead. It has the same neighborhood feel that they loved about their Powell restaurant.
“We (personally) moved from Powell to Grandview when we opened Knead,” she said. “Now, living here, we realize it was a no-brainer.”
La Tavola is open during dinner hours and is closed on Mondays.Off the menu
• Central Ohio soon will have its third Smashburger location, at 8715 Owenfield Dr. in Lewis Center. It’s scheduled to open on April 23. Smashburger opened in Gahanna and Westerville last year, and franchisee Andrew Hansen said he is looking near Easton Town Center and Ohio State University for places to open more.
• Two Tom + Chee restaurants are to open this spring in central Ohio. The Pickerington location is to open May 2 at 10709 Blacklick Eastern Rd., followed by one at 1844 Hilliard-Rome Rd. in Hilliard. An official opening date has not been set for Hilliard, but the company said it is aiming for June.
• The Hills Market Downtown is adding a new scoop shop, serving Johnson’s Real Ice Cream products, and coffee bar, featuring hot and cold bever-ages from Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea. Beginning on the store’s anniversary, which is Friday, the new shops, at 95 N. Grant Ave., will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends.
• Dewey’s Pizza plans to open its third location in May on Perimeter Drive in Dublin. It’s starting the process of hiring a staff, encouraging those interested in working as servers and pizza makers to call 614-707-3969 for interview times. The company also has locations in the Grandview Heights and Worthington areas.
Dispatch restaurant columnist Denise Trowbridge can be reached at email@example.com.