Italian Restaurant of the Year

Avo Pork Shank


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Thanks to a recent buildout of the transitional space and the installation of a striking retractable roof, the owners of the building housing Avo have finally nailed the formula that makes this indoor/outdoor jewel of a space work year-round. But the heart of Avo is chef Nick Lama. With family roots extending back to the original St. Roch’s Market, Lama’s Italian menu is also progressive thanks to his time spent at Gautreau’s.

“I like to do simple, bright clean flavors. I don’t like overly complicated things,” Lama says. “I’m trying to blend traditional Italian with a bit of a modern mindset.”

His appetizer of charred octopus is a case in point, held fork-tender via sous vide but seared to order for pick up. It gets plated with grilled eggplant and (recently) cranberries for a seasonal twist. Fans of more traditional Italian fare would like his lasagna layered with beef short rib ragu. But few dishes can match the visual appeal of his braised pork shank, a Flintstone-esque tower of tender pork on the bone surrounded by herbed spaetzli and cider-braised cabbage.

– Jay Forman