We say 'tomato'


For the love of ’maters

Are tomatoes fruits or veggies? Do we even care when they’re ripe and ready for the eating? Their saucy side tides us over until the summer when their freshness commands our full attention. Lucky for us, these restaurants know just how to handle such juicy orbs.—Megan Headley


It’s not easy being green, but the tomatoes at Craig Hartman’s BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville are downright addictive when served fried.

Sure, the cajun-spiced bacon helps, but Blue Moon Diner’s (1) BLT with Duke’s mayo, thick-sliced local tomatoes and lettuce on your choice of Breadworks bread just couldn’t be without the ’mato.

Local food ambassador Harrison Keevil pays homage to his grandfather at Brookville Restaurant with a “salad” of local heirlooms, frisée, pickled red onion and Duke’s mayo.

At the Clifton Inn, Executive Chef Tucker Yoder combines every color and state (raw, roasted, dehydrated and peeled) of tomato with watermelon, basil seeds, cucumber, shaved fennel and balsamic jelly.

The summer salad at Feast! stars local tomatoes with French feta, olive oil croutons, local cucumbers, kalamata olives, basil, local arugula and balsamic herb vinaigrette.

Pappa al Pomodoro 
(Tuscan Bread and Tomato Soup)

Tavola chef/owner Michael Keaveny’s simple yet scrumptious recipe that glorifies less-than-perfect tomatoes:

Cut the crusts off a loaf of day-old bread and crisp it in the oven. Sauté garlic and red onion in olive oil. Toss in roughly chopped tomatoes (any kind will do), add cubed bread until the soup thickens and season with salt and pepper. Top with fresh basil, sea salt, black pepper, good olive oil and parmigiano.

The gazpacho at Mas Tapas is authentically Andalusian except for the fact that it uses tomatoes (and cucumbers, peppers and onions) grown in Mas’s own community garden plot.

Tavola (2) serves summer on a plate with fazoletti pasta, local cherry and beefsteak heirlooms, caramelized red onion and garlic, pesto genovese and parmigiano di bufala.

Zinc’s (3) salad of tomato, cantaloupe, cucumber gelée, elderflower, borage and Caromont fresh chèvre is almost too pretty to eat.

From the garden

Look at summer this way: While we’re lying very still in the AC, garden tomatoes everywhere are working hard at becoming their perfect summer selves. Here are a few non-recipes that require minimal effort and deliver true tomato glory.—Meredith Barnes

Spanish-style tomato bread:
Simple, messy and delicious. Brush a few slices of crusty bread with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted. Put the bread on a plate, rub one side with a garlic clove and the cut side of a really ripe tomato. Discard the tomato skin, sprinkle the tomato bread with coarse salt, and eat over the plate.
Greek-style tomato salad:
Slice a big, juicy tomato. Lay the slices on a plate and sprinkle with sliced red onion, crumbled feta, chopped fresh herbs and some good vinaigrette. Eat the whole thing by yourself.
Caprese sauce:
Dice tomatoes of any size and color and mix gently with torn basil leaves, plenty of olive oil, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Let sit for 20 minutes, add diced fresh mozzarella and serve over hot pasta.