Where to start?
A’Tavola means ‘at the table’ in Italian. The owner, Lisa Peterson, picked the name to be an umbrella of sorts, because she knew anything she did would revolve around food. Her husband told her that the name would be difficult for people to say, but she just shrugged and replied, “People don’t always know how to pronounce Sur la table either and that’s not hurting business.” Well, the name hasn’t daunted any of Lisa’s customers either.
I admire Lisa, she has run her own business for over twenty years now. She opened a small deli in the mountain town of McCall, then when she moved to Boise, she was hired at the local Co-Op where she was just going to help them get organized. That little stint lasted for years. We have an outdoor Shakespeare Theater here in Boise. It is quite wonderful, well, several years ago the folks approached Lisa and asked her if she wanted to start a café at the theater. She did to great acclaim. It’s boutique, darling and delicious.
Lisa left the Co-Op, overhauled her own kitchen at home and began a Takeaway dinner service along with cooking classes. Soon, her own house couldn’t hold back how well she was doing.
Today, Lisa and a’Tavola are found between 15th and 16th streets on Grove in Downtown Boise.
I headed to a’Tavola for a cappuccino experience.
When you first walk into the café, it’s like a candy store for an adult. There is so much to see that most new comers just stand a few feet inside the door trying to take everything in. Three large tables piled high with various gift accoutrement sway proudly just inside the door. To the right is the café with a lovely glass case filled with the days latest sweet offerings. All of them tempting. To the left is the deli section of the café. Two glass cases moan with the weight of colorful foods you can purchase. There is also a to-go section of various meats and cheeses, wines, cold drinks, crackers. Think every picture you’ve seen of a small market in Europe. A’Tavola has everything you could think of needing for a picnic, gift basket, or just something quick and delicious to take home.
Lisa also has a fridge full of large take-home items, lasagna, quiches, and cinnamon rolls to name a few.
I was lucky enough to talk with Lisa and the one thing that impressed me was how hard she works, how much effort she puts into her business and the fact that every single item in her store, she herself has tested.
Okay, the coffee. So, here’s the thing. The coffee offerings are nice and minimal. They sell basics, black coffee, latte, mocha, cappuccino, and hot tea. There are a few others, but that’s the bulk of it. Their prices are comparable to other coffee shops, but possibly a little lower. I ordered my cappuccino, no one asked me if I wanted it wet or dry. Good start. There is only one size cappuccino served at a’Tavola, another good sign. My cup arrived and it looked good. I took a drink and I wasn’t blown away but I wasn’t disappointed. It was a very nice, generic cappuccino. A little heavy on the foam, but it could be the girl who helped me told me she was new.
I have had vanilla lattes and plain old coffee at a’Tavola, and they were quite good. The surroundings help push good over the edge to wonderful I think. If I were to have a slogan for the café, it would be “Go for the coffee, stay for the food!” (Or is that already a thing and it got stuck in the recesses of my mind? Hmmm.)
The food at a’Tavola is ridiculously amazing. I have had a variety of meals and they are awesome. Made fresh every day. Using as many local resources as possible, they are all very tasty. Pricing is a bit on the high side, but not too bad. The reason is because you are supporting locally owned business right down the line.
I’ve tried a wide variety of the foods that are ever changing and I have not had anything yet that has disappointed. Two large glass cases boast several levels of daily offerings. Lisa says she likes to look at the cases and if there isn’t enough variety in color, she changes the menu.
A’tavola is about the esthetics. Lisa wants you to have an experience when you walk through the doors of her shop. And I always have a wonderful time if I’m just writing, taking a friend to coffee or stopping by for something eat. If you are in the area, I highly recommend at least one visit to see what it’s all about.
Want to see more of my gushing about a’Tavola, here is the article I wrote for the Greenbelt Magazine.