Hudson Valley Italian Food Restaurant Review: A Tavola Trattoria, New Paltz, NY

A Tavola in New Paltz weds authentic Italian cuisine with the abundant produce available in the Valley

“Tutti a tavola a mangiare!”

Cooking-show aficionados will no doubt recognize this Italian phrase: Renowned chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich (Lidia’s Italy, Lidia’s Family Table) pronounces it at the end of each episode of her series. Roughly translated, it means “Everyone to the table to eat.”  

This hearty invitation kept running through my mind during our visit to A Tavola, the five-month-old Italian eatery in the restaurant-crowded village of New Paltz. Owners Nathan and Bonnie Snow — former chefs de cuisine at New York’s Al Di La and Sfolgia, respectively — have created a rustic but truly authentic trattoria that combines traditional Italian fare with the bounty of straight-from-the-farm ingredients available in the Valley. The result is extraordinary.

Located in the space most recently occupied by the eatery Beso, A Tavola was pleasantly busy on the rainy late summer weeknight that we visited. The rustic theme begins at the door: a tripod of wire baskets — filled with massive sweet potatoes, peppers, and other fresh veggies — greets diners as they enter. Painted in vigorous earth tones (chocolate brown, beige, maroon), the 60-seat restaurant has seating on two floors, a spacious bar area, and a wall of windows that reaches up to the second-floor ceiling (and lets in plentiful light, making the space seem larger than it is). Candlelit farm tables are spaced comfortably apart; a mix of jazz, folk, and muted rock plays in the background; and the clientele (Bonnie informs us later) is an amalgam of locals and city folk, many of whom — judging by the number of hugs bestowed upon the friendly, competent staff — are obviously regulars. One simple but telling wall decoration is the chalkboard, which lists the eight local farms and vineyards that supply A Tavola with the majority of its fresh ingredients. “There are dishes we serve where everything on the plate — except the olive oil — comes from within five miles of here,” Bonnie says with justifiable pride.

bonnie and nathan snowTable service: Owners Bonnie and Nathan Snow in the upstairs dining room

We begin our meal with a glass of Pinot Grigio from the moderately priced ($35-$68) wine list; with the exception of two bottles produced at Gardiner’s Whitecliff Vineyards, all the offerings are Italian vintages. Our waitress — who looked no older than my college-student daughter, but certainly knew her way around the menu ­— promptly brought a berry basket filled with warm, house-made Italian bread and a ramekin of olive oil for dipping. Slightly salty, amazingly fresh, and soul-satisfying, the bread was a harbinger of the meal to come.

The menu is divided into antipasti (appetizers), primi (pasta, risotto, gnocchi dishes), and secondi (entrées). Although the poached octopus appetizer is one of A Tavola’s signature dishes, our non-seafood-eating trio could not be tempted; we opted instead for the slow roasted local beets and the antipasti special, a combination of three dishes that serves two. Our dueling forks flew across the table, stealing bites from each plate. The crostini was an early favorite: the topping of whipped ricotta, pickled peaches, and truffled honey was a distinct complement of tastes and textures to the crunch of the grilled bread. The watermelon salad got some zing from paper-thin red onion, buffalo mozzarella, and pesto; sweet roasted beets — paired with licorice-like shaved fennel, the mild crunch of pistachios, and a creamy whipped ricotta — were a symphony of flavors.

» Visit A Tavola Trattoria in New Paltz, NY
» Visit A Tavola Trattoria’s Web site at
» Go to the Accidental Foodie blog review of A Tavola in New Paltz, NY

» Go to the Hudson Valley Restaurants & Dining Guide

» Go to the Hudson Valley Food & Drink Guide



tortelli with goat cheeseStuffed with creamy goat cheese, the tortelli pasta is then tossed with three locally sourced ingredients: roasted mushrooms, sweet corn and blueberries

We sampled four pasta dishes, winners all. Pappardelle bolognese, broad noodles bathed in traditional meat sauce, nearly made us weep with pleasure. Unlike the bolognese encountered in more “Americanized” Italian restaurants, A Tavola’s version has just a hint of tomato, which allows the rich flavors of the braised meat, vegetables, and spices (which are cooked together for seven hours) to shine. Another popular item, goat cheese tortelli, was equally successful. Pasta squares stuffed with cheese are tossed with roasted mushrooms, sweet corn, and ripe blueberries — all locally raised (or foraged, as the case may be). The blueberries make this dish, their sweetness a perfect foil to the mushrooms’ earthiness. (All pastas are handmade at the restaurant, and can be ordered in full- or half-size portions.)

After a palate-cleansing plate of panzanella — a salad of bread, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, and basil that tasted like summer in a bowl — we moved on to the main dishes. Chicken under a brick, another house favorite, had a well-crisped skin and juicy flesh, with an intensity of flavor borne of this unique Tuscan method of grilling poultry. The accompanying charred escarole offered a smoky counterpoint. The La Belle Farm pan-roasted duck breast was lightly seasoned and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Surrounded by sweet potato cubes, leg confit, sautéed kale, and a hash of cipollini onions, it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

tortino di cioccolato e ricottaAkin to a chocolate cheesecake, the tortino di cioccolato e ricotta has a pine nut crust and is served with whipped cream and apricot jam

Stuffed as we were, we couldn’t leave without sampling the house-made desserts. Lemon-honey semifreddo, a half-frozen concoction of lady fingers, whipped cream, chestnut honey, and lemon gelato, was light and refreshing, the lemon flavor neither overly strong nor cloyingly saccharine. Hazelnut gelato, too, offered a sweet and nutty tang in a smooth, cool, light ice cream base.

Regrettably, our dinner took place just days before the restaurant was due to switch to its fall menu. Bonnie Snow assured us, though, that the pappardelle, octopus, and other menu staples will remain through the autumn, joined by rabbit ragu, fall squash ravioli, and turnip and pear soup, among other seasonal dishes.

Avid skydivers, the Snows made frequent trips to the Valley before moving to their current home in Gardiner. Bonnie says they opened A Tavola in this area “because of the farmers, the produce, the local meats. We’ve got farmers knocking on the door, wanting to sell us their foraged mushrooms.” It’s difficult to overemphasize how that farm freshness contributes to the overall success of every dish we sampled at this gem of a restaurant. Quality ingredients, prepared with equal amounts of skill and imagination, made for a dining experience we won’t soon forget.

A Tavola Trattoria
Dinner Thurs.-Mon. Appetizers range from $9-$12; pasta dishes from $23-$26 (half-size portions $12-$13); entrées $22-28; desserts $6-$12

» Visit A Tavola Trattoria in New Paltz, NY
» Visit A Tavola Trattoria’s Web site at
» Go to the Accidental Foodie blog review of A Tavola in New Paltz, NY

» Go to the Hudson Valley Restaurants & Dining Guide

» Go to the Hudson Valley Food & Drink Guide



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