My grandfather came from a town near Napoli that still bears the family name. Growing up on traditional Italian recipes produces a pretty good barometer of how the food works. Ava Gene's is solidly set on the style with an adventurous dollop of nuovi confine. The place exudes charm in a wired kind of way. The big windows make it uninviting for mob business. Staff are sharp and attentive, seating is snug making it easy to survey what's coming out of the kitchen to your neighbor's table. That's helpful if you aren't enchanted with Italiano menu and just want to be able to point at your food choices. Hardly limiting because it's hard to pick something that's not delicious. AG's confidently navigates all levels of the meal, antipasti through dolce, with grace and daring, taking advantage of the seasonal to capitalize on fresh. Nuts, fruit and veggies are all coaxed into service in delivering flavors just outside the conventional.
Start with a pane and the burrata, then add the arancini. From there, pick a pasta that's made in-house for your primi. Do the family style thing and order enough to share, portions are European, so plan accordingly. The secondi course offers a great choice of local meats along with a fish dish. It would be pretty easy to work the menu as a vegetarian with the salads and sides. The beverage department sports a full bar and ambitious wine list. The food is shockingly good, but Italian nonetheless, so the sticker shock makes AG's a splurge. Live it up!