- February 16, 2011
Keys to the Door: Schiller-Del Grande Restaurant Group, operating partner Susan Bennett, general manager Rawad Semaan.
What’s on the Menu: Lonnie Schiller and chef Robert Del Grande (of RDG + Bar Annie fame) have just unveiled their latest concept: Ava Kitchen & Whiskey Bar at West Ave (with its Italian alter ego, Pizzeria Alto, opening upstairs as we go to press). Candice Schiller, SDG’s interior guru, has captured the essence of an urban bistro with a picture-window view onto bustling Kirby Drive. The sophisticated interior is bathed in cornflower blue with decidedly French accents — reproduction foxed mirrors, zinc-topped tables and mighty 15-arm wooden chandeliers. She’s balanced gray tones with a pop of Indian fuchsia velvet atop the cozy banquettes (the most covetable seats in the house). Del Grande and his team have concocted a menu of small and large plates, with ingredients culled from France, Spain, Italy and Morocco. The dishes re-imagine European classics in a way that honors the tenets of the originals. Our favorites: smoked Muscovy duck breast with duck liver mousse and apple endive salad ($12), an earthy rigatoni with bolognese ($14) and the best tart tatin — apple, bien sûr — we’ve ever put in our mouths ($8.50). If you’re craving an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, meander upstairs to Pizzeria Alto. Del Grande’s take on chef-driven pizza pie is sure to spark debate on just who is serving the best slice in town. 2800 Kirby Dr. in West Ave, 713.386.6460; avaalto.com.
Images: Photos by Jenny Antill.