La Tavola Trattoria in Virginia-Highland is the rare Italian restaurant that makes pasta on-premise but doesn’t remind you of that fact with the price. The elegant, delicious squid ink spaghetti tastes as exciting as it looks: zippy Thai basil pesto and Calabrian chiles add just the right amount of spice. The dyed-black spaghetti (which is easy to overcook into a chewy mass) is nicely al dente and interwoven with a generous portion of calamari.
Such a sophisticated and well-executed dish is reasonably priced at $18, but at La Tavola, any pasta dish can be served as an appetizer portion for $5 less than the entree price. It would be tough to find a better Italian dish in Atlanta for $13, even without La Tavola’s cozy ambiance and excellent service. The whole package is enough to delight even the most hardened pasta skeptics.