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Ultimate taste test at Tavolaccio

Laura A. Ball
Special to the Daily/Tim Szurgot A plate of Spanish prosciutto "serrano" and manchego cheese. Parmesan, Tuscan mariner hard cheese "Pecorino" and gorgonzola.
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EDWARDS Posh, cozy, casual, fun, intimate, sophisticated, unpretentious these are all words that come to mind when describing Tavolaccios new wine and tapas bar. Add affordable to the list, and the valleys best-kept dining secret is fresh out of the oven.No one is offering what we are offering, said Ozan Yalcindag, the restaurants manager. People who have figured it out just keep coming.Ranging from $3-$8.50, the tapas bar is a great way to sample a variety of the chefs masterful Italian dishes, not to mention the accompanying vintages. Every night, the bar offers wine flights, offering three 2-ounce glasses of various reds, whites and ports sorted by grape, varietal or region. As wine is meant to be drunk, not to stay on the shelf, Yalcindag chooses wines from the modest, well-selected collection that he knows will complement the flavors of the food, he said, unveiling the flights before our eyes. Wine? I love wine. My life is wine. Look at me, he said, spouting off about the spice of the chianti or the buttery chardonnay. Pouring from lightest to fullest, Yalcindag showcased each bottle as he relinquished the rounds. The taster should always start with the lightest and easiest on the palate, he said. He also likes to name the triads: Classy Chardonnay, Magnificent Pinot Noir, Italian Stallion. And at that, the four of us decided, since we were good friends, we would share the liquid montages. As we toasted and sipped natures bounty, we were greeted by a tall, olive-skinned man with a thick Sicilian accent.

A veteran restaurateur, Tavolaccio chef and proprietor Jon Carlo Macchiarella has owned restaurants in Miami and on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. Macchiarella opened the romantic Italian hot spot with floor-to-ceiling views of downtown Edwards three years ago after selling his 11-year-old establishment, Farfalla, on Aspens Main Street. He wanted to become a part of Edwards up-and-comingness. Its no wonder hes the first in the valley to open a trendy bar serving gourmet snacks and aviation libations, something, Yalcindag said, that is really only being offered in cities like New York, Chicago and L.A. Wine is my passion, Cooking is my passion. The tapas, its fantastic. As a chef, you get to play with a lot of things, I think thats why the Spanish did it, Macchiarella said.Our mouths watering, the chef left us with a wooden serving block of Spanish prosciutto serrano and manchego cheese ($7.25), a plate of parmesan, Tuscan mariner hard cheese Pecorino and gorgonzola ($8.25) and some mixed olives ($3). Hands become crossed, food rationed, mouths full, conversation stifled. The tradition of serving small snacks with drinks began in Spain. The word tapas comes from the Spanish verb tapar, which literally means to cover. The association with appetizers is thought to have come from the old habit of placing a slice of bread or a piece of ham on top of ones wine glass, perhaps to keep out insects. The shape of the mozzarella and tomatoes ($6.50) reminds me of the edible lid that was the precursor of modern-day tapas. The chef returns, this time bringing sauteed calamari stuffed with pine nuts and raisins ($6.50) and stuffed pasta with ricotta cheese and spinach topped with melted mozzarella cheese ($8.50), all gone before I could say, Delicious.Tapas can be appetizers, as a nibble before the entree, but we ate the mini-meals as dinner. Dont order everything all at once, as the chef makes the tapas to order. You can stop requesting when youre full, But most people keep ordering anyway, Macchiarella said. Its up to you until you say, No more.They come out quick, and the interaction with the waiter keeps the dining experience new and exciting. The menu is brief, decision-making made easy, and the quality and flavor is further testament to its specialization. The regular dinner menu is also available from the wine and tapas bar, but tonight were satisfied with our apps almost.Whats port without chocolate mousse and tiramisu. We all dug in, hoisting morsels of lush chocolate into our mouths and swishing sweet wine.Perfect for a refreshment after work with colleagues, a cozy date or dinner for a party of four, Tavolaccios tapas bar is an experience worth sharing. Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Sample Wine and Tapas MenuPolpettine di vitelloe in salsa pomodoro ale erbeVeal meatballs in a tomato and herb sauce $7.25Mozzarella rugetta e pomodoroMozarella, rugola, and tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil $6.50

Calamari ripieni alla PalermitanaSauteed calamari stuffed with pine nuts and raisins $6.50Cannellone con ricotta, spinaci e mozzarellaStuffed pasta with ricotta cheese and spinach topped with melted mozarella cheese $8.50Carpaccio di polipoThinly sliced octopus, topped with shaved parmesan, fennel and capers in a lemon and virgin olive oil dressing $7.95Prosciutto Spagnolo “Serrano” e formaggio manchegoA plate of Spanish prosciutto “serrano” and manchego cheese $7.25



Grana, pecorino Toscano e gorgonzolaParmesan, Tuscan mariner hard cheese “Pecorino” and gorgonzola $8.25Prosciutto di Parma e meloneParma prosciutto with melon $8.50Salamini, capacolla piccante e mortadellaThree Italian cold cuts served on a toasted butter bagette $6.50Wine flightClassy chardonnay $9.50

Spain SuMarrocaArgentina El PortilloCalifornia Toad HollowThe Magnificent Pinot Noir $11Pinot Nero Northern Italy smooth, lightBlock 13 SonomaBear Boat Russian River ValleyItalian Stallion $11CetamuraCorvo spicy Tuscan



Barbera d’asti Pied MontePort $9.50Fonseca Porto, PortugalTaylor FladgateFonseca Porto Bin No. 27For more information, call Tavolaccio in Edwards at 926-2606Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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