KENILWORTH, NJ - Tucked around a cozy corner just off the Boulevard in downtown Kenilworth lies a place that lives to meet all of your quality food and beverage needs
Ava’s Kitchen & Bar features a wood-burning brick oven that churns out thin crackly-crusted pizzas with a flavor and texture that is like no other. Along with its award-winning pizza, Ava's menu features sharable plates and snacks such as Crispy Chicken Lollipops, Mussels & Frittes, House Made Soft Pretzels, and more.
Attilio Guarino purchased the former Umberto's Clam Bar location in 2017 and transformed what was a dated dive bar into one of New Jersey's most eye-popping gastropubs.
From the floor to the ceiling, everything inside of Ava's has been reclaimed. The outside facade features refinished wood and factory-style windows that Guarino himself removed from a shuttered industrial warehouse in Asbury Park.
The inside features two seating sections; a rustic-style dining room and an industrial-looking bar area. The wall that divides the two rooms contains windows from the 1800s made by a blacksmith for a high school in Philadelphia, while two hundred year old oak makes up the dining room floor.
Behind the bar, you will see 32 hand-crafted wooden beer tap handles along the wall with a television screen informing you of each beer's style and brewery location. Nearly one-third of Ava's beer selection comes from local New Jersey breweries such as Kenilworth's own Two Ton Brewery and Cranford's Yale Terrace Brewery. Fair warning, there are no domestic styles beers like Bud Light and Coors Light.
"We are very serious about good beers," said Guarino. "Good beer ain't cheap and cheap beer ain't good."
Though the beers may be unknown to a casual beer drinker, beer enthusiasts have been flooding into the bar nightly to see what's new on tap. The beers are rotated and changed daily so if the beer you had the last time you visited has kicked, just ask one of the bartenders for a recommendation of a brew similar in taste.
Not only is the focus on local breweries, but Ava's also highlights small family wineries and craft spirit distilleries from New Jersey and the surrounding tri-state area. Yes, Kenilworth's Tree City Vodka is available.
Ava's food menu contains some of the purest quality products you can find. For pizza dough, Guarino uses an organic flour with no commercial yeast but instead a sour dough starter. The Charcuterie board features meats from Smoking Goose Meatery in Indianapolis and the cheese board contains an assortment of aged cheeses from local farms. The lone entree on the menu, Ava's Signature Burger, consists of local grass-fed beef, house-made beer cheese, and onion jam.
To further enhance your experience, on designated nights Ava's will feature guest chefs, musicians, and mixologists. On Thanksgiving Eve, one of the biggest parties of the year, Ava's will host guest mixologist Wilson Oliver from The Archer in Jersey City. Oliver will be crafting specialty cocktails all night long until the 1:30 a.m. last call.
Currently, Ava's opens at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and at noon on Sundays. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Ava's will be open for lunch daily and will be instilling a Happy Hour Menu and a Late Night Snacks Menu. Come check out what all the hype is about.