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What's Up Magazine

Ava's Pizzeria & Wine Bar

Dec 08, 2010 08:34PM ● By Anonymous


The three of us arrived at Ava’s in the interregnum of the region’s back-to-back February blizzards. Mary, our waitress, came to take our drink orders shortly after we sat down. Compelled to sample the ambitious wine list, Christine ordered a glass of Domaine de Gournier Merlot ($8). The wine selection ranges in price from $21 to $290 for a bottle, with several wines available by the glass. The beer aficionado< will be thrilled by the selection of over 100 domestic microbrews and imported beers. Doug opted for Brooklyn Brewery’s Chocolate Stout, a very robust and dark version of the beer varietal Guinness made famous ($6). The youngest member of our party, Rory, had an ice-cold Coke.

When Mary returned with our drinks, she informed us of the day’s specials. The salad special—a tomato and fresh homemade mozzarella salad with basil ($8)—sounded like a good start for us. It arrived with capers and thinly sliced red onion and a light drizzling of balsamic dressing. It was a nice, light start to our meal and reminded us of warmer days.

Rory ordered one of the day’s specials—a hearty smoked brisket sandwich ($12) that would surely satisfy the most ravenous of appetites. The thin slices of brisket were served on flatbread and topped with homemade barbecue sauce, and the sandwich was served with Ava’s freshly prepared potato chips. We could only imagine, as Rory was enjoying his sandwich, how wonderful the brisket smelled while it was smoking in the outside smoker. The aroma must have commanded attention for blocks.

Doug and Christine gravitated to the pizza menu—this being a pizzeria, after all. Christine chose the onion tart ($13), a white pizza made with caramelized onion, gruyère, and sour cream drizzled atop in a lattice style. It was a simple pizza accented by complementary flavors. Doug created his own pizza, starting with a tomato sauce base. He added sweet roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, baby bella mushrooms, and charred pepperoni—a wonderful blend of tastes that delighted the palate. (Toppings range in price from $1 to $3.) We suspect that all of the pizzas on the menu are similarly satisfying, as they’re all made with fresh, hand- tossed dough, homemade sauce, and are baked in an open brick oven using only white oak.

Rory had earlier spotted his choice for dessert on another patron’s table—what looked like homemade donuts served with some sort of fruit sauce. Mary described it as a plate of fresh donuts made at Ava’s, served with raspberry coulis ($7). Doug and Christine ordered a decadent piece of New York-style cheesecake ($7), which was rich, creamy, and worth every delectable bite.

After our meal, we spoke with Chef Fazio and Ava’s Owner Chris Agharabi. Both are wonderful to talk with and display their enthusiasm for the restaurant. Chef Fazio creates new dishes and revises the menus regularly. The dinner menu is much more extensive than lunch choices and includes items such as steak frites ($19), chicken marsala ($16), shrimp fra diavolo ($16), and Louisiana crawfish pasta ($22). Chef Fazio mentioned that the short ribs ($21) are never omitted from the menu, as they’re always in demand. Agharabi said he plans frequent wine tastings at Ava’s, taking advantage of the additional dining room upstairs. He also mentioned that the restaurant will add outdoor seating this summer with the completion of a new patio.

We learned that Agharabi also owns St. Michaels Perk Coffee House, a cozy java stop complete with wi-fi, located directly across the street. In addition to satisfying people’s needs for morning fuel, Agharabi says Perk is also used by patrons who are waiting for a table at Ava’s or a seat at the bar on especially busy nights. Before leaving town, we ventured across the street to pick up a coffee and a hot chocolate for our drive home. The beverages warmed our spirits during the ride, just in time for the snow to start falling…again!

Doug O’Connor has 20+ years of experience as both an executive chef and a food and beverage director, and he’s also involved with the Chesapeake Chef ’s Association. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University with degrees in culinary arts and food service management. Christine graduated from Johnson & Wales with a degree in hospitality management. They currently reside in the Annapolis community of Cape St. Claire, along with their two children.


Ava’s Pizzeria
& Wine Bar

409 S. Talbot St.
St. Michaels, MD 21663



When to Enjoy: 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
(No reservations. Please call ahead for groups of 8 or more.)

Expect to Pay: Appetizers: $4-13, Light fare/Sandwiches: $9-17,
Dinner Entrées: $19 (average), Desserts: $6 (average)

Owner: Chris Agharabi

Chef: Chris Fazio