An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Sep 3, 2013
07:33 AM
The Connecticut Table

From-Scratch Le Bistro by Avila Celebrates Its First Year in Torrington

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“I could buy it high-end,” he said, “but why?” The same goes for the Balsamic vinaigrette. Mr. Avila makes his own using a total of 10 ingredients, and in that same spirit, he makes fresh sauces every day.

“Because doing it every day the parsley never loses something,” Mr. Avila remarked of his refusal to gamble with freshness or risk diminishment of a flavor profile. “Yeah it could be good the next day, but I guess I’m just anal that way.”

When his wife is asked if a signature dish has emerged from the restaurant since it opened in the fall of 2012, she names the Gambas al Ajillo entrée. It consists of white Gulf shrimp served with garlic sauce over mashed potatoes, and then topped with spinach that comes so incredibly fresh it could have been picked that afternoon.

Anyone who takes a bite will understand the true value of taking such meticulous care with the dishes.

It follows that the same experience will come from digging into such appetizers as Potato Croquetas, with organic peas, chorizo and Manchego cheese, the Cuban “eggrolls,” the Spanish-style “calzones” with chili Thai sauce, or salmon cakes with citrus vinaigrette.

Tempting entrees include linguini with mussels in a handcrafted chardonnay sauce, seafood paella, fresh cheese raviolis with a handmade tarragon cream sauce, and a grilled ribeye steak with pommes frites.

When it comes to dessert, the mousse au chocolat, a rich and creamy concoction handcrafted with Belgian chocolate, was pretty dazzling.

Mr. Avila has no formal education in the culinary arts. The younger of his two sons, Cortlandt, was just accepted to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York, but the father learned through a lifetime spent in the kitchen.

“He doesn’t have official training,” said Ms. Avila, “but say he’s better than most people that do.”

His training was in his native New York City, inside the kitchens of his friend’s families, so many of whom brought with them the culinary traditions of Spanish and Italian heritage. Mr. Avila considers French technique the foundation of his cooking.

The Avilas, whose other son, Miles, is at Boston University, met while working in the financial industry in her native Fairfield County. Ten years ago, they moved to Torrington.

Mrs. Avila kept commuting from Torrington to Fairfield County, while he stayed up here to raise the children and handle various jobs in food service. Throughout it all, Mr. and Mrs. Avila had the notion that one day they would open their own restaurant.

“It’s always been a vision, something we knew we wanted to do,” said Ms. Avila. “We knew to wait until we got older because you can’t open a restaurant and have family time.”

Le Bistro by Avila is located in the Top of the Hill plaza along East Main Street, and is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Saturday and for brunch on Sunday. To learn more, see the Web site at The phone number is 860-618-5566.

From-Scratch Le Bistro by Avila Celebrates Its First Year in Torrington

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