The dumpling duo has done it again. Dragana Katalina-Sun and Sun Da, married proprietors of Marco & Luca dumpling shop on the Downtown Mall, opened a second Marco & Luca on Elliewood Avenue at the old site of Sublime. Judging by the line out the door on a snowy day last week, when Restaurantarama observed outgoing UVA President John Casteen himself among the fray for the shop’s inexpensive, fast and flavorful fare, the place has been warmly received by the UVA crowd. It’s the same menu as Downtown location—dumplings for $3, choice of vegetable or pork buns for $2, sesame or spicy noodles and sweet and sour soup for $3.50. The shop only accepts cash or check, but it’s hard to complain. Prices are up only about 50 cents from 2003, the year Dragana and her husband, former refugees from Bosnia and China, respectively, made C-VILLE’s annual list of the notable locals for changing the Downtown eating landscape with their cheap, fast and reliable lunch. Back then Dragana told us, “We wanted to bring the people quality and quantity, and we wanted to bring it to all kinds of people, all classes.”
Recession-ready: Dragana Katalina-Sun (pictured) and Sun Da have opened a second Marco & Luca on the Corner. Lunch for five bucks? Yes we can!
Now it’s the UVA masses who are filling up for less than $5. Dragana says that her husband always wanted to be the near the students and jumped on the tiny Elliewood location between Duo and Take-It-Away Café, when it became available. For now, the two are splitting duties between both locations. Sun Da is smoothing things out at the new location, while Dragana holds down the fort at the flagship shop in York Place. When Restaurantarama called Dragana to find out how things were going, she said, “I don’t know. I never see him!”
Somewhat fortunately for the couple’s crazy schedule, Dragana recently closed Nicola’s Veggies, the organic juice bar and raw and fermented sandwich and salad spot she opened in 2008. It had been in the tiny window on Second Street where Marco & Luca first got its start.
“It was not a good spot for that kind of food,” says Dragana, “but maybe I’ll try it again in the future.”
Now, we first reported the pending Marco & Luca outpost last July, which was the same time we reported that Basil owner Raif Antar would open a gourmet pizza shop called Semolina in the old Pacino’s Deli spot on W. Main Street. Back then, Antar told us he’d open in about seven weeks, but so far, though all renovations appear to be complete and signs are up, the place still hasn’t opened and its ABC license is still listed as pending.
Finally, we hear the infamous Jose De Brito is making waves again, this time at Trinity Irish Pub on University Avenue. De Brito, who caused a fuss for his classically snooty French attitude as much as for his classic French food as the chef and owner of the now defunct Ciboulette in the Main Street Market, was working for Hotcakes before landing in the kitchen at Trinity, where, apparently, he’s been waging war against ketchup. Look out Guinness, you might be next.
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