I hadnt been to Buona Tavola in about a year, so we walked downtown last night to the one next to the Fremont on Monterey in SLO (theres one in Paso Robles as well).
We sat on the patio, which cooled off pretty quickly as the sun finished going down and we had them crank up the heater. The patio is nice, with vines on the walls and a fountain with two cherubs providing backdrop. A party of 8 or so wedged in a corner was surrounded by shrubs, so it was almost like they had their own room.
But to the food. The bread they brought out to start was simple a baguette and another type (paesano?) with tapenade, a nice change especially since Im (supposedly!) dieting.
I started with a half-salad, spinach, tomatoes, red onion and pine nuts in a gorgonzola cheese dressing that was surprisingly light. Dressings involving cheese or cream are usually too heavy for me.
I wanted both a salad and an entrée, and when pushed, our server said I could get a half-size. Not much price difference, but my eyes are always too big for my stomach.
I had the orecchiette del campo little clam-shaped pasta with broccoli, sundried tomatoes and a tomato-basil sauce. It was good, though no broccoli that I could see. I had some of the fresh parmeasan-reggiano they offered too. The basil sauce wasnt overpowering, and the sundried tomatoes were the best part. Easy to eat, too a plus. :)
My husband had the fettucini with shrimp and mushrooms in tomato sauce. He complained that they hadnt cut the tails off the shrimp, but thought his portion was a good size.
Our server was knowledgable but a bit over-stretched, I think, as there were long lapses between when we got our menus and he came back, as well as after we were finished. I think we waited 10-15 minutes after they cleared our plates to get a check!
In any case, a pretty good experience, one Id recommend to visitors. Try some local wine with your meal they have a good selection. I had a Monterey Sauvignon Blanc not strictly local, but as close as I could get with a white and not a Chardonnay. I wish Buona Tavola had more by the glass, but Im not complaining.
We went on a Thursday, so after dinner we picked up some produce at the Farmers Market (heirloom tomatoes, fresh berries, pasilla peppers I love California) and caught some music at Grappolo on Broad, where I enjoyed a wonderful crème brulee, diet be damned. :-)
Happy chowing, everyone!