These two words start my stomach growling. They translate to "hot table" in Italian. This refers to a type of eating establishment that is kind of like our "buffet" restaurants. Only the tavola calda has warm dishes of freshly made, awesomely good, incredibly inexpensive choices. They will have everything from grilled veggies to braised meats, amazing pastas, casseroles to die for, fried goodies that are light and crispy, all hot from the kitchen. The dishes are made fresh, with new things coming out every few minutes, it seems. The difficult part is deciding what to indulge in.
We always order too much, are shocked at the minimal price, and gorge ourselves. It goes without saying that there will be decent, inexpensive wine to be had, as well as bread and desserts, if you aren't little piggies and have room left. We are little piggies. We've never had room for desserts.
I love these places, and will search them out in every area we visit. I have noticed that you don't find them in smaller towns, but most bigger towns and all the cities have them. They aren't fancy, and cater to the working population of a neighborhood. It's like fast food, only fast food that a fabulous Italian Grandma just pulled out of her oven. You will see men in suits, truck drivers, families, women dressed to the nines, city street cleaners... everyone in these places. Often you sit at long communal tables, sharing water carafes and condiments. It's GREAT!
The drill goes like this: Grab a tray, plate, glass and silverware. Get in line. Start checking out what's available, as your turn comes up. You will be asked what you want by one of many people working behind the glass counter. Point, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Once it's your turn, you get the full attention of your server, and they have always been nice to me. Order this , that and that, and oh, some of that.... some wine, bottled water, maybe... and off you go to find a spot to sit. The turnover is pretty fast, so there is always a place available.
|Waiting for my turn to order, checking out all the options.|
|This place is so popular, you take a number!|
|The best roasted potatoes EVER, wonderful veggies, and "torta al testo", an Umbrian traditional bread, hot from the open fire oven.|