The restaurant occupies a space adjacent to the old Rockwall square, a cluster of low brick buildings left over from the days when this suburb was a small and distant town serviced by farm-to-market roads. It bears the scars of this past life proudly, showing off walls of dated brick broken sometimes into irregular lines by time and settling. Yet exposed aluminum ductwork and a lounge area give the space a sleek, industrial edge, as well. The only chores here are drive time and service.

Well, the time I brought along a fashion-conscious friend, our waitress happily allowed her to sample several different wines before making a selection—then returned with a Texas-sized pour.

My turn: "I'll have a Bombay martini, uh..." She had already started back toward the bar. Did I want Sapphire or the original stuff? Olive or twist? Dry, perhaps?

A deft hand—
and reliance on fresh, seasonal ingredients—
is AVA’s signature.
Sara Kerens
A deft hand— and reliance on fresh, seasonal ingredients— is AVA’s signature.

Location Info

Map

Restaurant AVA

108 S. Goliad
Rockwall, TX 75087

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Garland & Vicinity

Details

Gazpacho $7 Market salad $8 Spinach salad $8 Fried green tomatoes $8 Green Room mussels $9 Wood-grilled pork chop $18 Goat cheese tortellini $18 Pan-roasted chicken $23 Pan-roasted halibut $25

Web extra:More photos of AVA and its offerings in our slideshow.

Copeland admits they're in continuous training mode. "Most of the people we hired had no fine-dining experience," he explains.

But you can put up with worse just for a meal here. One time, in fact, fading traffic slashed drive time in half, causing me to arrive an hour before opening. So I strolled around the square four or five times, walked into a nearby 7-Eleven to kill a few moments under the spell of air conditioning, explored the neighborhoods that slope toward the lake and paused to pretend I was engaged in an important text messaging session.

No matter how foolish this appeared to passers-by, I knew the end result would be worth it. From the amuse bouche on, dinner at AVA is a nearly unbroken series of "wows," "damns" and indecipherable sounds ending in "that's good."

AVA 108 S. Goliad St., Rockwall, 469-698-9920. Open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $$$
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