Opera comes with dinner at La Tavola
All martinis are $9 at La Tavola. Try the Pretty in Pink made with Malibu rum, a bit of Grand Marnier, cranberry and pineapple juices; or The Ultimate with Belvedere vodka, blue Curacao, Grand Marnier and a bit of orange juice both created by mixologist Amanda Luikaart. | Lee A. Litas~Sun-Times Media
8808 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Niles
4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday
Updated: November 29, 2012 4:34PM
Juan Carlos, Eddy and Mario Montiel insist they are just simple folks, proud of what they do.
As owners of internationally patronized coffee and macadamia nut plantations in Costa Rica and Guatemala, as well as running four restaurants throughout North and South America, they could take on airs.
Instead, the brothers are grateful for their success and say so. “When you open (a new business), you open with all your dreams and you don’t know really how long it will take for people to get to know you and love you,” explains oldest brother Juan Carlos.
The family’s most recent baby, La Tavola in Niles, opened this spring and offers Italian, trattoria-style fare, a casual departure from their other white-tablecloth establishments.
“If you have ever been in a trattoria (you know that) it’s noisy, full of life, full of ambience. The music is a bit loud and the food is still gourmet but not as fancy, and it’s moderately-priced and has a larger menu,” said Juan Carlos.
While he and middle brother, Mario, are front-of-the-house, the youngest brother, Eddy, mans the kitchen. “Mario and I, we love to serve, we love to see people happy. That is our calling,” said Juan Carlos. He stresses that Eddy’s cooking comes from his heart. “He blends herbs and spices with such a delicate touch that it’s very difficult not to understand that he enjoys what he does for a living.”
Try Tavola’s succulent filet mignon, cooked to order and finished with Béarnaise sauce, then topped with jumbo lump crab meat au gratin ($27) and see.
Every Friday and Saturday at La Tavola, Chef Montiel gives his customers an extra special treat when he comes out from his kitchen to sing opera. No surprise he’s been nicknamed ‘the singing chef.’
Patrons come from as far away as Park Ridge, Glencoe and Highland Park to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the food and the value. “Here we give you a great portion for a fair price,” said Montiel.
All the pasta is made in-house. Order the Gnocchi con Carne y Rapini and you get a plate filled with the soft potato mini-dumplings mingled with chunks of filet mignon, fresh spinach, garlic and splashed with olive oil ($17).
Don’t hesitate to go off-menu here.
Salmon Genovesse offers a moist filet of salmon topped with prawns and cherry tomatoes. It’s drizzled with white wine, a touch of lemon, and a sprig of fresh basil adds a burst of flavor ($21). It’s a special, so just ask the chef and he’ll be glad to make it for you.
Another off-menu special is the Calamari Carlos appetizer. Chef Montiel stuffs large cuts of calamari with shrimp, scallops, croutons and capers. Rosemary and a touch of garlic add the perfect savory touch before the dish is broiled and finished with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil ($9).
“We try to give terrific food, great services and good atmosphere,” said Montiel.
Follow Table Hopping on Facebook.