We are investigating how to blend California style and cooking with the best of Portugal’s food and relaxed lifestyle. We are exploring and highlighting the small, artisanal producers in Portugal. At the same time we want to introduce the simple country elegance of California. We want to discover the freshest Portuguese ingredients, and prepare them with the same light touch as we do in California — to coax the best flavors and retain the color and texture.
Tavolavila started as an invitation-only supper club where we hosted seasonal meals in a private home. We had set out to create a dining experience. It would be the main event rather than something you do on the way to something else.
Our inspiration was the amazing (and amazingly long) dinner at Mariazinha in Porto, Portugal. It was a 10-seat restaurant run completely by a husband (front of the house) and wife (back of the house). There was no menu. You ate what they prepared from ingredients they purchased that day at the farmers’ market.
Overall we have felt that dining is Europe is much less frenzied and frenetic than in the United States. While we enjoy the high energy of buzzing “it” restaurants, it can be tiresome to have a waiters rush the bill to you so they can “turn tables” and get the next patrons (who are often crowded around the front door) into your spot.
We had a single seating of eight to 12 people, most of whom had never met. By the end of the night, we would often hear phone numbers exchanged and promises of future gatherings. We’re not sure they ever followed up, but for that moment, there was a connection.
The logo was designed by a dear friend and colleague Dennis Gallagher. He and I partnered on some very challenging and rewarding design projects for over 20 years. Sadly, he passed away last year. His legacy continues in all the beautiful things he designed, including this logo.