If the Pirraglia family business had checked into a trademark, Fenwick and West trademark attorney Sally Abel told me, it would have found "three different companies with 'tavola'-based marks with similar services." Abel also told me that in order for a term to be protectable, "it has to be distinctive."
It turns out that despite all the hype about providing an authentic Italian family dining experience, Rustic's legal claim on "tavola" as a trademark is based on a Portuguese translation of the word.
Some might argue that this is a typical food fight in the cutthroat restaurant world. Or, to quote from "The Godfather'': "It's nothing personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."