What keeps this food-loving effort interesting are restaurants that defy expectations, in whichever direction. I visited @tavolarestaurant with sky-high hopes, having heard from acquaintances that it was a spectacular place to dine. I settled in at the bar and decided to go an all-pasta route, so I ordered the linguine in white-wine clam sauce vongole and the capellini frutti di mare. The pasta was housemade and both dishes were over $22, and I was expecting something formidable. I was dismayed when the dish arrived, as the portion was very small. My dismay grew as I ate my first bite; the pasta tasted dry and flour-y. There was an unbelievable amount of watery, intensely salty oil at the bottom of the pasta that everything was soaked in. This did not help with the dryness of the pasta, however, and instead made the sad, small clams practically salt bombs. I didn’t know what to do with all of the excess oil water, so I asked for some bread, which they charged $3 for. $3 for a small baguette. My dining partner was also experiencing difficulties with their dish; their angel hair pasta was served overcooked in one huge clump. I spied her attempting to de-clump it. The scallops, mussels and shrimp in her dish were overcooked... I ate a scallop that dissolved into a mush immediately in my mouth and didn’t taste like much of anything. I was so confused! I had just paid $22 for a C+ pasta dish at supposedly the finest Italian establishment in Charlottesville. I observed a woman beside me, who had ordered the linguine con vongole as well. Upon her first bite, she looked displeased. I emphasised with her. I am confused by this dining experience, but it seems as though Tavola is known for a very small portion of their dishes and hugely for their ambiance and service. (The restaurant is small, crowded, homey. Sadly I did not find anything particularly redeeming about it.) Their pasta dishes seem to be one of their weakest points. Regardless, I will not be returning and I recommend that my readers turn elsewhere for a good pasta experience. Their wine list is extensive, however, and their chestnut cheesecake was alright.