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Atmosphere and taste are the top priorities at Avila

If there's one item to not pass by, it's Avila's truffled mac and cheese.

Avila's pretty color palette of mellow yellows gives the restaurant a lemony glisten when it opens for Sunday brunch. At night, the room has a soft amber glow. Sitting discreetly on the corner of Stuart and Charles Street South, though modern and simple in design, Avila has a classic elegance. And that goes for Chef Rodney Murillo's pan-Mediterranean menu too.

Over Avila's six-year life, some specialties have stuck around: A luscious Valencian paella stuffed with seafood, chorizo and chicken; haloumi cheese baked with dates and finished with ouzo and roasted cashew nuts; and the welcoming bread and tahini-rich hummus, olives and caponata are unmissable staples.

If there's one item to not pass by, it's Avila's truffled mac and cheese. This dish is too often loud and vulgar; heavy with too much truffle oil and dairy fat. But Murillo's is dreamy-creamy, poignantly scented with truffle and seasoned rather than overburdened with cheese. It's hard to find better truffled mac and cheese than this one.

This knowing restraint really shines throughout the menu. It's not "less is more"; there's nothing lacking in a white-striped bass sitting on a waxy potato cake, topped with a fecund tomato, black olive, caper and oregano salsa before its placed in a generous pool of tangy beurre blanc. But there's nothing extraneous either. Balance is no easy feat, but it's well practiced at Avila.

Taste of the nation




Thursday night, Avila's Rodney Murillo joins Gordon Hamersley, Jody Adams, and a host of culinary and cocktail glitterati for this year's Taste of the Nation Boston. The event raises funds for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, which aims to end childhood hunger. (One hundred percent of ticket sales is donated to the cause.)

Taste of the Nation Boston 2012: April 19

Tickets $95, VIP $150

Hynes Convention Center,

900 Boylston St., Boston.

1-877-26TASTE. www.strength.org/boston

If you go




Avila

Entrees: $23-$31

One Charles Street South, Boston

617-267-4810

www.avilarestaurant.com