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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free Times Lists Their '11 edition of Best Bites in Columbia, SC

A couple of weeks ago, the Charleston Magazine took a ride around town and toured it's now established food truck scene. This week Cola takes a second to say hello to Columbia's number one food truck, Bone-In Artisan Barbecue in the Free Time's annual best bites article. Not only can you find Bone-In's devastatingly good Brisket-Stuffed Mac and Blue cheese, but also other new and exciting bites in the Capital City like the duck quesadillas at Cellar on Greene or creamy chocolate gelato at Peace, Love and Rocky Roast. Click here to check out the article and start making your list of places to stop in Cola.

A special shoutout also goes to the whole food truck community in Columbia, SC, which won the battle against city council's diabolic plans to shut them down. Here's to more great food on wheels!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Columbia's Food Truck Scene Under Fire

It's no secret to anyone in South Carolina that Columbia's food truck scene has been in an intense battle with city council and local restaurant owners who wish to heavily restrict and ultimately push the mobile food industry out of town. The emergence of food trucks in the past year have been an incredible asset to the community, bringing a host of fresh, culinary ideas to the city and making Columbia's food scene expand in ways never seen before. This whole wave of success, however, may be in for a downward spiral soon as proposed amendments by the city council are currently in the process of being deliberated. Fellow Columbia blogger The Hungry Lady recently posted an excellent summary of the situation at hand. Click here to check out the situation and find out what you can do help save Columbia's food truck scene.

Also check out Bone-in Artisan Barbecue and Columbia's Food Truck Rodeo facebook page to get the latest word on the ongoing battle in Columbia. Good luck to the Food Trucks!

Charleston Magazine Talks Food Trucks

The Charleston Magazine has a great feature out today on their budding Food Truck scene! Learn how these entrepreneurs came into being and find out some fun facts like what inspired Diggity Donuts fiendish, yet somehow healthy creations or how a camper off craigslist became a mound of frozen gold known as Happy Camper Snoballs.

You can find out about all that and more by clicking here.

Also, make sure you check out my Charleston food truck adventures afterwards and taste the good life in part one and part two of my Charleston Food Truck adventures.

Image courtesy of Charleston Magazine.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Greenville (NC) Eats: aTavola!

aTavola! is for many local Greenvillians the ideal hideaway from the manic college crowd any night of the week. Tucked behind the new Wycked Grill on Red Banks next to Food Lion, most people probably wouldn't figure out that aTavola! was a restaurant from the unassuming looks of it outside, but a step inside reveals a clean, trendy restaurant churning out Italian American eats.

aTavola! is split into two sides: a darker bar side with sports entertainment and the bright restaurant side where artwork is hung on the walls. An open kitchen sits inbetween the two sides, churning out dish after dish from their large and varied menu. Jampacked with choices in the pizza, pasta, and sandwich variety, most of the traditional things you'd expect to find in an Italian menu are there, like spaghetti and Alfredo, various pizzas including pizza margherita and classic sandwiches like the Reuben or Italian Grinder. Some more varied choices may include the tomato, basil tortellini or seafood adventures like crab carbonara. There's really nothing too surprising on the menu at aTavola!, but there's nothing to whine about either.

The appetizer list is perhaps a bit more sophisticated then your normal Italian restaurant, with options such as a refreshing Caprese (cheese and tomato slices with fresh bread), garlic shrimp, a thing called Funky Refried Ravioli, and what our dining group for the night eventually settled for, the dip of the day, this one being a sun-dried tomato, bacon, crap dip. I've had dips at aTavola! before that were pretty dynamite, but for me this one was a bit less appealing due to the sharpness of the sun-dried in contrast to everything else there. The dip was packed in a bread bowl, however, which earned big points.

For the main course I opted for their current special, a meatball ricotta pizza. Packed with huge slices of meatball and dollops of rich ricotta cheese, it was a good pie that was crispy the whole way through and a sight to behold on its own. The only complaint I had was that I wished the meatballs had a bit more meatiness to them to really take the pie to the next level.

Past experiences at aTavola! have been equally as good. The turkey prosciutto sandwich my last outing which was satisfying with the light cuts of turkey, delicate saltiness of the prosciutto and crispy, rich bread. aTavola! offers a variety of sides with their sandwiches, the sweet potato chips perhaps being the standout. Not the thin cut soggy things that you might expect from a sweet potato chip, these were crispy, sweet thick cut potatoes fried to perfection. Less appealing was the Carolina slaw, a lightly vinegar and somewhat un-alive side that I could have done without. That slight misstep aside, dishes coming in and out of the kitchen all look well cared for and attractive to the eye, always a great thing when it comes to Italian food which can easily be turned into an unappealing mess in the wrong hands.

No Reservations, the Final Word on aTavola!
Atmosphere: Clean and contemporary, but still casual.
Mixed crowd, mostly older.
Costs: Reasonable for entrees, ranging from $9-12,
but for appetizers and drinks a bit on the high end.
Try: Sandwiches and traditional pizzas.
Don't: The Naked Greek Pizza. A bit of a salty monstrosity waiting to happen.

The positives of aTavola! definitely come in food and atmosphere. For Italian American in Greenville it definitely ranks as one of the best, if not the best that the city has to offer in this genre. Dinner can get pricey though, especially if you order drinks which are five dollars or more per pop, and lunch does not offer much more of a saving, so if $8-10 is above your range then you'll have to look elsewhere I'm afraid. That being said, aTavola! is one of the better places to dine in the Greenville area, especially if you are looking for a more upscale place to eat and socialize with friends.

Atavola Market Cafe on Urbanspoon