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Steph Says: Taverna in San Marco!

Our intrepid restaurant reviewer, Steph Bewley checks out the soft opening of Taverna, the new restaurant in San Marco. Official Opening: October 1, 2009 1986 San Marco Blvd Jacksonville, FL 32207 904.398.3005

Published September 21, 2009 in Dining & Nightlife      21 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


With a few friends, I went to Taverna on Friday, September 18 for the soft opening. I can honestly say this is one of the best meals I have had in Jacksonville since last dining at Orsay in Avondale. The setting is contemporary and comfortable with a few rustic touches.

Their full-menu will entail a variety of Tapas, Appetizers, Salad, Sandwiches, Pasta, Pizza and Entrees. They intend on regularly incorporating new menu items and seasonal options, while also maintaining staple dishes.

Here is a sneak peak at their full-menu:

Wines by the glass are in the $5 - $10 per glass range including Sparkling Wine. Our server was helpful and offered us a tasting before committing to one specific glass. The service was marvelous, attentive and well paced. We had everything we needed from full water glasses, to warm bread with oil and balsamic for dipping without feeling like the staff was hovering.

We started off with a beautiful Cheese Plate of three assorted cheeses (Saint Andre, Triple Crème, France; Manchego, Sheep Milk, Spain; Humboldt Fog, Goat Milk, California) accompanied by Fig Compote, Honey, Pecans and Oil Brushed Bread. The Fig Compote was a nice alternative to the standard dates, apricots and berries you traditionally see with cheese plates. Meat Selections are also available a la carte.

1 for $4
3 for $12
5 for $20

On to the next course: Salads!

We sampled three tasty leafy dishes.

Caesar, Boquerones (white anchovies), Parmesean Croutons ($12)
Refreshing spin on a Caesar Salad. The white anchovies, if you haven’t had them, are enjoyable and significantly less salty.

Olive Oil, Poached Artichokes, Shaved Fennel, Baby Arugala, Marcona Almonds, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Oranges, Picholine Olives ($10)
While I enjoyed this salad, I feel there could have been slightly more citrus to balance out the Olive Oil.

Baby Spinach, Roasted Pears, Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans, Bacon ($9)
The pears were cooked perfectly and added just a subtle touch of sweetness.

Main Course

Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp with garlic & chili) - from the Tapas/ Appetizer offerings ($10)
The server forewarned us that this flavorful dish comes with the heads of the shrimp on – something that may turn some individuals off. My friend was cool with it and thoroughly enjoyed these three jumbo shrimp.

Fresh-made Pappardelle (pasta), Lamb & Wild Mushroom Ragu (half $10/ full $20)
This fresh pasta can best be described as a wide fettuccini with a thinner, lighter texture. I could order this again and again. The lamb was tender, plentiful and married perfectly with the mushrooms and fresh cheese. The half order on this is the perfect size if you are ordering a salad or appetizer as well.

Sautéed Mussels & Clams, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Saffron Chorizo Broth (half $12/ full $24)
Here you will see the half order, which is a pretty sizeable portion. Just like the Gambas al Ajillo, the broth on this is full of flavor and well seasoned.


Cream Catalana with Summer Berries & Biscotti ($8)
Very close to traditional Crème Brulee and just as delicious.

Assortment of Cookies included Hazelnut Biscotti, Lemon Thyme Cookies and Pine Nut (Pignoli) Cookies
These were compliments of Taverna, which is why you do not see a price. Pignoli Cookies are one of my favorite, favorite cookies and these did not disappoint.

Chocolate Pavé with Whipped Mascarpone and Candied Pistachios ($8)
This can best be described as chocolate cake meets a wonderfully rich chocolate mousse. It is moist, sweet and almost impossible to stop eating.

We ended our meal perfectly; enjoying these sweet treats over cappuccino and espresso.

I look forward to visiting this eclectic spot in San Marco again and welcome the addition to the neighborhood! If you have the opportunity, be sure to check it out.
Steph Bewley



September 21, 2009, 02:26:23 PM
Excellent review Steph! I thought it was super delicious and I can't wait to go back!!


September 21, 2009, 02:28:50 PM
seems a lot like Orsay...


September 21, 2009, 02:31:38 PM
seems a lot like Orsay...

In some ways, the quality and service was spot-on. They are clearly going for a more Mediterranean, eclectic inspired menu where as Orsay has some specific French influence.


September 21, 2009, 02:41:49 PM
The service was awesome.. they were all about making sure we liked what we were getting and answering any questions we had... Also loved being able to sample wine before deciding on a glass. I can't wait until the opening and more menu selections!

This place would be awesome for a date night or another girly dinner.


September 21, 2009, 02:52:23 PM
Dude, those mussels…


September 21, 2009, 03:03:34 PM
Steph this place looks awesome!

The owners are very very good people as well.  Very young and attractive, and ambitious.

They came from Jonathan Insetta's group of people, which is an amazing good thing.

Did you get to look at the wine list?

And did they say when the pizza oven gets kicked into action?


September 21, 2009, 03:09:17 PM
Steph this place looks awesome!

The owners are very very good people as well.  Very young and attractive, and ambitious.

They came from Jonathan Insetta's group of people, which is an amazing good thing.

Did you get to look at the wine list?

And did they say when the pizza oven gets kicked into action?

They are off to a great start! If I am not mistaken, there were a few pizzas on the soft-opening menu (2 or 3). So I think they are good to go.

The wine list had a nice offering. In additional to the traditional whites and reds that you see regularly, they had some interesting blends. I appreciated the fact that they offered several by the glass in each category vs. just one or two. Not as extensive as Bistro Aix for example but definitely diverse enough.


September 21, 2009, 04:43:38 PM
Oh baby... I am soooo there...


September 21, 2009, 05:21:13 PM
Cant wait to try the Pignoli Cookies!!! Whenever I go to NY i stop by a bakery on the way home and scarf these down on the plane ride back.


September 21, 2009, 05:35:09 PM
Jaxlore - I am originally from Staten Island - little Italy haha.. so I miss having those tasty suckers at an arm's reach!! This was definitely a nice surprise for me!


September 21, 2009, 05:48:03 PM
The rustic wood in this place is an amazing element as well.  Its really solid and handsome looking.


September 22, 2009, 09:28:13 AM
The wood is a nice touch! We all commented that it was cool the cheese plate came on a rustic wood board as well.


September 22, 2009, 12:20:26 PM
Steph, you said that the grand opening is October 1.  Is it serving lunch in the meantime?


September 22, 2009, 02:19:45 PM
Steph, you said that the grand opening is October 1.  Is it serving lunch in the meantime?

I have the following from the Times Union:

Owners Sam Efron and Kiley Wynne Efron are going to try to keep control over seating during the trial run. So, if you want to check it out, you need to make reservations by calling (904) 398-3005. Here are the specials: Half off all food items, Sept. 7-11; free appetizer for two, Sept. 14-19; free glass of wine or beer with dinner, Sept. 21-26. The restaurant’s official opening (and when you won’t need reservations) is Oct. 1.


September 30, 2009, 11:25:26 AM
Sam was one of Orsay's great chefs and has a great resume for his own restaurant. Kiley was one of the managers on the floor, and were part owners of Orsay. So they know how to run a restaurant! I am excited for them both, they should do well!


July 03, 2010, 10:12:20 AM
Went to Taverna's last night.  
Had an interesting interpretation of grouper(Im not used to grouper being served with a Mediterranean style flair).  The actual fish was great, something of a seared pecan-type crust and the fish was cooked just to my liking.  The hummus was very good.  My date had an orechiette pasta dish which was good(the tomatoes weren't overpowering the dish which was refreshing).  Nice wine list, and they had Sam Adams Summer on draft which I took full advantage of.  The service was beyond impeccable.  Overall, a very good dining experience!


July 05, 2010, 05:58:55 PM
I'll have to try this place out...


July 05, 2010, 09:50:08 PM
I've had a brief visit or two, enjoyed it....


July 06, 2010, 10:45:37 AM
I've had a brief visit or two, enjoyed it....

ditto for me too!


July 11, 2010, 04:11:02 PM
tempted to return and try a complete meal
everything looked good


July 11, 2010, 08:20:23 PM
I love it.
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