City Bites

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Tavola’s tasty steak sandwich tucked away in a pedestrian mall

More than pasta, Tavola's Italian menu includes an impressive grilled steak sandwich

The Place: Sandwiched between a monstrous red Shopper’s Drug Mart and a gaudy yellow Bulk Barn in the further reaches of Merivale Market Mall, Tavola is a blessedly tasteful and relaxing Italian tratorria with friendly service and simple, tasty food. Getting customers in the door must be a challenge for this oddly situated one-year-old restaurant, but once skeptical first-time visitors walk thought the door, they are rewarded with a warm greeting and transported visually by the sight of a bright open kitchen, cheerful colours, and funky high ceilings.

The Deal: The lunch menu satisfies cravings for comforting bowls of creamy noodle-y things: smoked salmon cannelloni, spinach linguini with shrimps and scallops, spaghetti with clams. There’s also the standard chicken caesar salad and the more inventive salmon PLT, a riff on a club sandwich that pairs pancetta with a thick fish filet. There are daily specials as well.

The Dish: The steak sandwich demonstrates skill at the grill — the nicely seasoned slab of tender rib eye meets with fire to give it a serious sear, and is served on a crusty-soft homemade bun with a tangy caper and tomato relish. Very good fries, too. Bottom line: Tavola’s beef beats out a bland burger any day.

The Cost: Lunch menu $14-$17

Tavola, 1465 Merivale Rd., 613-224-4442,