Scarlet owners bring small-plate Italian bites to Taverna 750

We came, we saw, we ate.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettThe classic martini: We�re not straight up martini drinkers but we found Taverna�s take to be smooth and very drinkable. Crunchier olives might be nice, but we�d otherwise order this one again in a heartbeat.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
2/47
Photograph: Erica GannettThe dirty martini: This one hit us like a ton of bricks. A dirty martini is definitely an acquired taste. We�d take the classic martini over this one anytime.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
3/47
Photograph: Erica GannettAviation: Very fragrant. Sweet, but not overly so and has a nice, fiery aftertaste. It almost feels like an adult version of pink lemonade with its subtle hint of lemon and puckery taste. In short, delicious.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
4/47
Photograph: Erica GannettGimlet: We loved this light and refreshing mixture of gin, simple syrup and squeezed lime and can picture ourselves sipping it on Taverna�s patio once it�s up and running.
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5/47
Photograph: Erica GannettMozzarella all filo: The Taverna team says early these little mozzarella sticks (baked in a crunchy dough and drizzled with while truffle honey, seasoned walnuts and black sesame seeds) are an early crowd favorite. While we would�ve liked these a tad warmer, the combination of sweet and savory was a real plus.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
6/47
Photograph: Erica GannettTomato pesto pizza: We liked this unfussy pizza. The sharp taste of the chevre gave it a nice burst of flavor and while we thought a bit more pesto wouldn�t hurt, we were overall pleased with this simple winner.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
7/47
Photograph: Erica GannettTavern manhattan: We�re not big Manhattan drinkers and couldn�t get on board with this one. Rye whiskey just isn�t our drink and we thought other cocktails were smoother and more flavorful.
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8/47
Photograph: Erica GannettGamberetto puttanesca: While not everyone is a shrimp and kalamata olive fanatic, you will surely like this pizza if you are. The plump shrimp gives it a lovely texture and the kalamata olives were perfectly tart. We also liked the tomato cream sauce.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettPiatto salato: Taverna has a wonderful house bread (fresh, fluffy and with just the right hint of salt) and here� it�s paired with an eggplant basil tapenade, a garlic mousse and an Italian red pepper salsa. We say skip the tapenade and salsa and aim straight for the mousse. It�s like a garlicky butter and it�s absolutely irresistible.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
10/47
Photograph: Erica GannettNegroni: Fans of this drink we�re not. It was too syrupy for our liking and had a lingering aftertaste we could do without.
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11/47
Photograph: Erica GannettGrand Avenue: We thought this kicky little number tasted like a dressed up version of an amaretto stone sour. It�s refreshing and with a great pineapple flavor. We imagine ourselves drinking these on Taverna�s patio during hangover brunch.
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12/47
Photograph: Erica GannettCosmopolitan: Taverna�s take on this summer fixture blows away some of the neighboring competition in our opinion. Unlike the fake cranberry juice used in most bars, this one goes for earthier flavors and it pays off.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettCasalinga:Taverna�s solid antipasta platter mixes meats, cheeses and veggies based on seasons and availability. Our trio of meats included hard salami, prosciutto and sopressata paired with fontina cheese, a mixed sprout salad drizzled in black pepper sauce and crisp corn kernels. We thought the crisp corn kernels were a knockout and underrepresented on the plate, but Taverna informed us they would be serving them separately. We say, great idea.
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14/47
Photograph: Erica Gannett�50s Fashion: Unlike the straight up Manhattan (which we had trouble with), this one adds squeezed orange and Aperol Aperitivo liqueur. We found it boldly flavored and very enjoyable.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettParadisi: This signature martini is created in part with a house made grapefruitcello and the grapefruit fans among us loved this one for its freshness and real fruit flavor. Said one naysayer, �it�s too acidic.�
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettQuartre fromage: We liked the basil tomato sauce on this one and also thought the goat gave it a nice kick. It didn�t impress, but didn�t disappoint either.
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Photograph: Erica GannettChilled carrot soup: Yum! This one is more summer-like than Katy Perry�s �California Gurls.� The carrot flavor is subtle, the texture is lovely and the addition of shaved parmesan and garlic mousse on top was too much to resist.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
18/47
Photograph: Erica GannettPollo all erbe: This was our least favorite of the pizzas. There wasn�t enough flavor in the chicken and we both kept wishing some crushed red pepper were at our table to give this one a little jazz.
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19/47
Photograph: Erica GannettArancia: Like the paradisi before it, this one�s made from a house cello, in this case orange. We would order one after another at brunch, but might be less inclined to pair it with dinner due to its sweetness. Nevertheless, we thought this refreshing summer drink was a winner.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
20/47
Photograph: Erica GannettLemon drop: Finally, a terrific lemon drop. Without relying on dousing the rim with sugar, Taverna manages its own solid version of a classic by mixing limoncello, squeezed lemon and simple syrup with vodka and managing a cocktail with the just the right about amount of tartness.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
21/47
Photograph: Erica GannettArancia: Like the Paradisi before it, this one�s made from a house cello, in this case orange. We would order one after another at brunch, but might be less inclined to pair it with dinner due to its sweetness. Nevertheless, we thought this refreshing summer drink was a winner.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
22/47
Photograph: Erica GannettLasagne agli asparagi: We think this is the prettiest item we�ve seen so far and it playfully reinvents the traditional lasagna by substituting asparagus for beef. It had lots of bold textures and flavors including pancetta and sun-dried tomatoes and instead of feeling heavy like lasagnas often do, this one was light and crunchy.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
23/47
Photograph: Erica GannettCannoli martini: We like the house made pistachio liqueur in this desert libation, but thought the espresso in the drink was too overwhelming. A great drink for coffee lovers, but too strong for our taste.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettBlack jelly bean: Anise is an acquired taste for sure but we found this drink surprisingly refreshing (although we wouldn�t order more than one).
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Photograph: Erica GannettMushroom cannoli: Accustomed to sweet cannolis, this savory, mushroom-stuffed number was an unexpected treat. The hard shell coupled with the puree was a textural treat and these babies are perfect for sharing.
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Photograph: Erica GannettTutto buono: We had mixed feelings on this one. While one of us one was surprised at the delight of textures from the salami, brie and figs, another one complained, �I can�t taste the salami.�
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27/47
Photograph: Erica GannettSpumanti: An exemplary desert drink. We liked the combination of pistachio liqueur, Stoli Vanilla vodka and chocolate liqueur and cherry juice. We say well done.
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28/47
Photograph: Erica GannettTiramisu: We couldn�t have been more at odds as a group on this one. One staffer thought there was too much reliance on frangelico and couldn�t muster a good word about the drink while another thought it was, �incredible.�
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
29/47
Photograph: Erica GannettChocolate martini: Nice, simple and elegant, we thought this one possessed a real earthy, chocolate flavor that other martinis around town lack.
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30/47
Photograph: Erica GannettMint chocolate chip: An early complaint was that this one was overly minty, like taking a swig of mouthwash. The smell is heavenly, but the reliance on peppermint liqueur may be a bit much.
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31/47
Photograph: Erica GannettT750: The premise sounds exciting: Taverna whips up its own version of chicken noodle soup by pouring steaming hot water tableside into a bowl with two raviolis stuffed with pulled chicken, spicy red pepper coulis and marscapone. In reality, we thought this one was a bit bland. The raviolis were not particularly flavorful and this one needed more salt and pepper or something to give it a kick.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettEspresso: We found this one surprisingly good. We�re not fans of coffee flavors in our booze, but could see ourselves trading a cup of Joe for this smooth libation anytime.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
33/47
Photograph: Erica GannettLattuga: No surprises here, but no regrets either. Fans of simple house salads will enjoy this combination of mixed greens, cranberries, feta, prosciutto, roasted red pepper and candied walnuts. We wished the dressing were a little more potent but were otherwise pleased.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettGreen beans: A bit buttery for sure, but otherwise we liked these crisp, al dente beans topped with a smoky bacon.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
35/47
Photograph: Erica GannettRoasted red peppers: Kudos to a kitchen that let�s vegetables speak for themselves. These babies were vibrant, smoky, peppery and earthy.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
36/47
Photograph: Erica GannettPera: We had mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the pear fan among us thought it was tasty, while another thought pear vodka and grapefruitcello were a strange mix.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettItalian wedding cake: �Vanilla liqueur is risky,� noted one colleague, but we think this combination of pineapple and cranberry juice, white cr�me de cocoa, vanilla Stoli and amaretto liqueur was totally refreshing.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
38/47
Photograph: Erica GannettAmalfi: Another one that incited mixed reactions. While one of us liked the combination of ginger liqueur, vodka and squeezed lemon, another thought it its lemon flavor was too overpowering.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettGelato: One of our very favorite drinks, the whipped cream vodka gave this fruit-infused cocktail an airiness we found irresistible. �Like Sunny Delight� in a glass quipped one staffer.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettGelato trio: As lovers of sweet and salty, we thought we�d go ape shit over the sea salt caramel gelato, but it was the scoop of vibrant and flavorful mixed berry that won us over. But it�s worth noting these flavors will rotate.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettGamberetti e pasta: This very pretty dish was bursting with simple flavors. Handmade fettucine is tossed with fresh vegetables and shrimp for a simple dish that will make the pescatarian in your life smile.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettPollo al limone: A curious take on lemon chicken, Taverna pairs a lemon pasta gratin with slices of roasted chicken and a small heap of saut�ed spinach and cherry tomatoes. The slight sweetness of the lemon paired with the savory chicken intrigued us and we liked the presentation for sure. However, the chicken was seriously salty.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettLaminati: The closest thing Taveran has to a calzone, this lovely dish takes spinach, prosciutto, mozzarella and basil and rolls them into a baked parmesan crust. A lesser kitchen would�ve doused the whole thing in red sauce, but we like that the prosciutto and cherry tomatoes are given room to do all the heavy lifting flavor wise.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettTorta al limone: Pucker up baby! We liked the tart, lemony goodness from this summer custard, but we sure had a hard time digging that crust out of the dish.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettMushroom duo: We�re mushroom devotees so to have any combo served saut�ed is alright by us although this dish still plays second fiddle to those tasty mushroom cannolis.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettGlazed carrots and onions: We found this simple presentation of mixed veggies enjoyable. The carrots were nice and crisp, the onions nicely saut�ed. Still, given the bounty of items on the menu, we don�t see ourselves reaching for carrots anytime soon.
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica GannettThe grand tap: This simple dish covers creamy polenta with a pork ragu. While wouldn�t opt for such a hearty dish during summer, we though the combination of the simple ragu covering the fluffy, whipped polenta would be just right in winter.
By Jason Heidemann |
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Over the course of two sittings, a couple of TOC staffers consumed (more like inhaled) the entire food and drink menu at Taverna 750, the new small-plates Italian restaurant from the creators of Scarlet opening this week at 750 W Cornelia Ave in Boystown. Most of what we tried we liked; a few things we didn't. But we'll let our gorgeous slide show of every drink and food item on the menu speak for itself. Bon appetit!

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