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Chef Nick Lama is quietly fomenting a revolution uptown on Magazine Street. The third generation Sicilian aims to shine a bright light on regional Italian cuisine, bypassing the usual Creole Italian... Read More
Chef Nick Lama is quietly fomenting a revolution uptown on Magazine Street. The third generation Sicilian aims to shine a bright light on regional Italian cuisine, bypassing the usual Creole Italian comfort food for dishes that reflect the boot's delicious diversity. His restaurant AVO - an Italian word that translates as "grandfather" or "ancestor," pays homage to his roots with dishes like lasagna, upping the ante by bathing the homemade sheets of pasta in a deeply satisfying short rib ragu. Lama, who is about to debut the restaurants newly renovated all-weather courtyard, delights in using Old Country ingredients - figs, Gorgonzola, Calabrian chilies, homemade pasta - in ways that leave an eater wide-eyed and swooning. He caramelizes tender tentacles of charred octopus with black garlic, a dish elevated to ethereal heights by disks of sweet grilled pineapple. Lama has an uncanny ability to combine ingredients in a way that harnesses the ultimate umami. This isn't your spot if you're looking for gobs of cheese- covered seafood and pasta - instead Lama's deft hand coaxes flavors in surprising ways. His decomposed veal saltimbocca frizzles sage leaves into crunchy bites, ties a bundle of herbed cheese with bits of prosciutto next to an ample veal chop bathed in veal jus. Save room for the butterscotch pot de créme with salted caramel.