By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 24, 2023 at 6:02 PM

After a closure that spanned nearly 12 weeks, Tavolino will be reopening its doors at 2315 N. Murray Ave. on Monday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m.

The reopening follows on the tail of the early June fire which destroyed the kitchen at Kawa Ramen & Sushi and caused severe smoke damage to both the Italian restaurant and Izzy Hops Swig & Nosh, which just reopened its doors about a week ago.

“I remember posting on social media that we’d be back in business the following week,” says owner Peter Dietrich, who says his initial optimism stemmed from the fact that Tavolino had escaped both the fire and water damage that severely impaired Kawa right next door.

Unfortunately, as investigations into the fire ensued, it was determined that the smoke damage was more severe than anticipated with losses of both food and equipment totalling nearly $20K.

“It was definitely not how we expected to spend our summer,” Dietrich says, noting that the restaurant missed being open for its third anniversary, which took place in June. “But, the time gave us the opportunity to really look at what we do here and re-evaluate things.”

Tavolino dining room viewX

What to expect

While the bar and dining areas remain largely unchanged, guests will find the walls renewed with fresh coats of paint, including a handsome deep blue grey tone in the bar area. 

Garage doors X

The restaurant’s art collection has also been rearranged and damaged ceiling tiles have been replaced.

Guests will also find a new seasonal menu headed up by Chef Trent Leiknes, who most recently worked as the chef de cuisine at Pastiche. Leiknes joined the Tavolino team just before the fire, so he’s spent the bulk of his tenure with Tavolino assisting with getting the kitchen back in order. But Dietrich says he’s looking forward to seeing what Leiknes brings to the proverbial table.

“I’m excited by what he brings to the table,” Dietrich says. “He has such a solid background in classic French cuisine and sauces, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he applies that to the Italian fare here.”

Tavolino dining roomX

On the (new) menu

As for the reopening menu, guests can look forward to Tavolino signatures, including housemade pastas (including gluten free), house desserts and pizzas made with a dough that has been passed down through multiple generations.

That means the return of favorite dishes like Polpette (beef meatballs served with polenta and pomodoro sauce); Romain all Griglia (grilled romaine salad with balsamic onion, capers, Pecorino Romano and anchovy vinaigrette); and Cacio e Pepe (spaghetti dressed simply with Pecorino, garlic confit and black pepper).

But diners will also find new seasonal offerings including Cozze (mussels in spicy tomato broth with white wine and fennel; served alongside grilled baguette slices); Pesce Spada with Pasta Al Pomodoro (rigatoni with pomodoro, diced swordfish, cherry tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon and basil); Guancia di Maiale Piccante (bucatini with guanciale, spicy tomato and white wine sauce and summer herbs); and Bistecca (New York strip served with roasted broccolini, agrodulce and celery root puree).

Beginning Monday, Aug. 28, Tavolino will resume normal operating hours Sunday through Thursday 5-9, Friday and Saturday 5 to 10.  Reservations can be made online.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.