33 Main St. (in Bay State Commons)
Westborough, MA 01581
When Tavolino first opened across from Ted’s Montana Grill adjacent to the Bay State Commons, someone told me the music was blasting, and they were looking for the young crowd. I’ve come to think this person was trying to save Tavolino for themselves….
Tavolino (Italian for “little table”) opened in October 2009 as the third Italian eatery of Better Food, LLC. Better Food opened Siena (Mashpee Commons) in November 2007, followed by a Tavolino at Patriot Place in Foxborough. Westborough completes the current triumvirate.
The man behind it all is Graham Silliman. His LinkedIn profile says a lot, and offers some fun insights into the man:
“Founded a restaurant group focused on serving authentic Italian food in distinctive, interesting places. In 2009 -- not the best environment for growth, but we are contrarians -- scaled up the business from one successful location to 3 locations. We have next to no organizational infrastructure and are sorely undercapitalized, but our history and our business model are compelling enough to attract developers with distinctive sites. With three different locations we are now focused on proving we can be both systematic in our operation and still operate with style. Once we pull that off, more growth will come.
If I listed all the areas you have to stay on top of -daily- to open & grow a restaurant business you wouldn't believe it.
I can't dance, and I'm no artist, so business is where I've found success in applying my creative energies.”
So let’s take a closer look at the restaurant this business guy formed.
Finding Tavolino is relatively easy…enter Bay State Commons from East Main Street and they are in the first street level building on the left…directly across from Ted’s. Parking can be a challenge, so we often park towards Panera Bread and walk back.
Finding the entrance from the Tavolino parking lot is a bit of a challenge…they’ve surrounded the outside patio with flower planters (see picture). While there may be legalities around patio access, the implementation leaves me cold (and I like plants.) It reminds me a little of a bunker.
Getting past this and finding the main entrance, you enter a general area and are immediately confused. There’s a podium host to the left, and you can see a beautiful bar area, and another podium host to the right…and you are facing a (pretty cool) wall of wine. I always muddle through and go to the station where:
- there are less people in line, OR
- there is someone to greet me
Now admittedly these are minor issues; as an engineer by training, my sense of flow and process always is set askew at this establishment.
My confusion is set to rest when presented with the menu. My “go to” appetizer is the wild boar gnocchi braised in Sangiovese wine, served with fresh potato dumplings and white truffle oil. It reminds me of a roast my mom would make, and rest assured Cleveland didn’t have a lot of wild boar.
General Manager Karen Perras just went out on maternity leave, so we spent some time talking with Assistant General Manager Anthony Figueroa.
Anthony suggests the Tavolino has a great ambiance, a great menu, and a great wine list. He likes the patio “bunker” look, saying it is unique to Westborough restaurants (he went on to say he believes it is a town regulation to “enclose” the patio.)
Sea scallops and pizzas are big sellers at Tavolino. The Tavolino Patriot Place sells more pizza on game days, and it is still popular at the Westborough location.
My daughter carbo loads before marathons on the traditional spaghetti and meatballs: fresh spaghetti with house made marinara and homemade meatballs.
For lunch, on one of the recent hot summer days the specials were hot soup, something of a miss agreed all the people in our party. (Anthony said normally there would also be a gazpacho choice.)
I had the Waldorf chicken salad wrap …comprised of chicken, apples, walnuts, golden raisins and mayonnaise in (you guessed it) a wrap. This was an overstuffed presentation of chicken salad, and was very tasty and filling.
The two bars are my favorite seating areas. The “adult beverage” bar is energetic, and tastefully decorated. The “pizza” bar, where you can watch the kitchen and enjoy the whole menu, is a fun, intimate way to enjoy the evening. Outdoor seating is just OK, if you don’t mind watching cars go by (Bay State Commons isn’t Newbury Street) in a crowded setting. Frankly, we find the formal “restaurant” seating area a little, well, dull.
Many people say the sidewalks in Westborough roll up automatically at 9 p.m. Tavolino is one of the few “nicer” places open later in town:
Monday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
They have live music Fridays 9 p.m. - midnight, with the bar open until 1 a.m. (The website says the bar is open late every night pending business.)
Sundays, Tavolino offers a brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tavolino has become one of my favorite “nicer and not stuffy” Westborough places to take business people (full disclosure – my company had its holiday party at Tavolino and it was just right…not too stuffy, and people could have a nice time.)
Tavolino gets a:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
About the RAG scale:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
Amber Light – Use caution
Red Light – Save your time and money
Gary Kelley has lived in Westborough since 1994. His reviews are what he would tell friends, and are not an academic analysis.