Taverna is aplace where I go for lunch when I have nothing to do, and all day to do it. Taverna is like a trip to Italy. It was also the Reader's Favorite for Italian restaurants in the D Magazine poll.
SETTING - It's in the Knox-Henderson area, between Cole and Travis. It may not look like much from the outside, but the small building is just the right size for a casual Italian trattoria. And there are a dozen tables on the popular front porch.
FOOD - Taverna says it's a "Pizzeria and Risotteria", which is an understatement. They also have pan-seared tenderloin, pan-seared sea bass, and really good daily specials. Among the entrees, the Pan-seared (medium rare/rare) Yellow Fin Tuna with Asparagus is outstanding. The pizzas are authentic, too. No weird "Thai Pineapple Pizza with Bean Sprouts" at Taverna. The lunch menu is about the same as the dinner menu, but everything is a couple bucks cheaper. You can see their web site by clicking here.
AMBIANCE - Owner Alberto Lombardi's goal is for you to feel like you're in a neighborhood trattoria back in Italy. The nooks and crannies are casually stacked with wine boxes, extra plates, piles of tablecloths, etc. It's not contrived -- that's just where they keep things. The kitchen is wide open -- you can see them lugging in the crates of fresh tomatoes. It's a local gathering place, and you immediately feel at home. It's not uncommon to see the owner or various family members there.
BAR - Like many neighborhood hangouts in Europe, they serve only wine and beer. No martinis here. But they offer about 60 wines, a third of them Italian, and best of all, the majority are available by the glass.
BOTTOM LINE - If you're looking for Italian ambiance and great food, Taverna is the place. And being casual, they do not take reservations.