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News / Life / Clark County Life

Nostra Tavola hits right notes: Italian eatery at former Rally Pizza site elegant, reasonable

By Rachel Pinsky, Columbian freelance food writer
Published: November 24, 2023, 6:02am
11 Photos
The owners of Nuestra Mesa in downtown Camas recently opened an Italian restaurant called Nostra Tavola in the space formerly occupied by Rally Pizza in central Vancouver.
The owners of Nuestra Mesa in downtown Camas recently opened an Italian restaurant called Nostra Tavola in the space formerly occupied by Rally Pizza in central Vancouver. (Rachel Pinsky) Photo Gallery

Todd and Tania Moravitz, owners of Nuestra Mesa in downtown Camas, recently opened an Italian restaurant called Nostra Tavola in the space formerly occupied by Rally Pizza in central Vancouver. They made the large, high-ceilinged room darker and sexier by staining the wood, painting the walls, and adding touches that give a modern trattoria vibe.

“We didn’t want people to come in and say, ‘Oh no, this is going to be expensive,’ but we wanted it to feel elegant,” said Todd Moravitz.

I first visited at 6 p.m. on a Monday. I made a reservation but that wasn’t really necessary. The place was pretty empty. Despite the fact that it was a slow night, the staff was energetic and attentive.

The dinner menu is expansive with a generous list of share plates like housemade focaccia with quince butter and shallot marmalade ($6) and arancini ($17), four salads including The Cardini (a Caesar salad with endive, $14) and a caprese ($13), several pasta dishes ($16-$22), pizzas ($18-$27), mains like flat iron steak ($29) and half a chicken in a fennel gratin ($28), and desserts like tiramisu ($13) and rice pudding ($11). Nostra Tavola also boasts a short wine list with a mix of Italian and Oregon pours ($8-$14 per glass, $24-$68 per bottle) as well as a long cocktail list ($12-$15).

Dining out guide

Nostra Tavola

Where: 8070 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Contact: 360-433-9315; info@nostratavola.com; www.instagram.com/nostra_tavola_vancouver.

Health score: Nostra Tavola had yet to receive its first scored inspection at press time. For more information, call Clark County Public Health at 360-397-8428.

We tried arancini ($17), endive salad ($15), fried gnocchi with prawns ($22), flat iron steak ($29) and tiramisu ($13). Owner Todd Moravitz developed this menu with chef Cory Schreiber, a James Beard Foundation Award winner who founded and owned Wildwood Restaurant and Bar in Portland. Their expertise and care in creating an approachable, moderately priced menu shows in the dishes that are skillfully prepared by chef Jacob Malvini, who formerly worked at Feast 316.

Each plate offered a range of flavors and textures that mixed well. Pungent creamy bits of Gorgonzola cheese elevated the crisp, bitter leaves in the endive salad. Arancini were made with a fontina and white wine-laced risotto stuffed with a mix of Italian sausage, ground beef, Grana Padano and mozzarella, breaded with panko, and served with a white wine, lemon juice and garlic sauce. Fried gnocchi — crusty on the outside but tender inside — sat on a creamy pistachio pesto surrounded by a ring of prawns cooked in butter, garlic and white wine. The 8-ounce flat iron steak was served with confit potatoes, cherry tomatoes and roasted pearl onions placed on a pool of rich, piquant sauce made from a mix of black, green and pink peppercorns that are soaked in bourbon for 48 hours then smoked with mesquite wood chips.

The next day I went back to try the pizza. Jose Garcia, whose father runs the kitchen at Nuestra Mesa, worked at renowned pizza spot Apizza Scholls in Portland for years. He runs the pizza menu here. I got a Margherita pizza ($21) and the house pie ($24) with marinara sauce covered in hot soppressata, fresh mozzarella cheese, red onions, bell peppers, black olives and bits of roasted garlic.

The pizzas are big enough for two or three adults — an unusually generous size for quality pies during a time when high-end pizzas seem to be shrinking. The crust is thin with a bit of chew and a lot of flavor. It provides a nice canvas for the toppings. The Margherita was a classic cheese pizza with strips of fresh basil. The house pie arrived as a flavor bomb with a bit of fire from the soppressata. I also ordered the penne with Italian sausage ($18.50) and The Cardini salad, which is basically a Caesar salad with endive instead of romaine lettuce. The food traveled well.

Given the level of service, food and general vibe, it’s surprising that this restaurant has been open for only a few weeks. The owners decided to serve Italian food instead of the fare they’re known for at their Camas restaurant because there are many Mexican food options like Woody’s Tacos and the Senior Lopez food truck nearby, but not many choices for Italian food. This seems like a good move.

I asked Todd Moravitz what was next. Peruvian? He laughed, but it seems that the owners have a grasp on more than one type of cuisine and a keen sense of the current dining mood in Vancouver. Nostra Tavola fills a need for a chic spot that doesn’t feel like a bar for adults to enjoy sophisticated food and drink without spending a small fortune. We could use more places like this.

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Columbian freelance food writer