Restaurant Review: Wallingford

Ambitious cuisine with mixed results

Category: teaser headlines


We love a restaurant with heart, and at Wallingford’s Avila (in the space that formerly housed Bella Cosa), the fresh-faced cooks certainly have it, preparing virtually everything they serve from scratch. But unabashed enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily guarantee a stellar meal. Such is the case with Avila, opened in mid-November by the original Bella Cosa team, whose members have converted the space into a quiet restaurant with unfussy wood floors and gray walls. The room is dim, with secluded tables in the back, ideal for G-rated hand-holding. And while Avila should be applauded for offering some of the most adventurous plates in town, most of those plates come festooned with underwhelming accompaniments. Daring diners would enjoy the risotto starter ($6), topped with a hefty portion of lip-smacking, gelatinous cockscombs, an unusual ingredient with a texture reminiscent of the skin on a braised trotter (pig’s foot). The young radish soup ($7) was silky and sweet, and didn’t need the side of heavy marrow beignets. Mains suffered from superfluous touches, such as a toasted marshmallow sweet potato pie next to a beautiful cut of skirt steak from Stokesberry Farm, already served with a farm’s worth of mustard greens ($25). Seasonal desserts are as hit or miss as the service—order the eggy apple soufflé with hot caramel ($9) and skip the dry mille crêpe cake ($5). Avila’s ambitious kitchen staff deserves praise, and with a little time and editing, their food might, too. Brunch Sat.–Sun., lunch Tue.–Fri., dinner Tue.–Sun. Wallingford, 1711 N 45th St. 206.545.7375 $$

Originally published in April 2010