When espresso and gelato shop Milano and Italian homewares shop Verity Blue moved from the Main Street Market to the “pink building” at 100 South St. earlier this month, we wondered: Would Milano make an impact among all the other Downtown clatter and caffeine? Well, if the July 8th grand opening “Pink Party” for the two relocated shops owned by Mark and Victoria Cave was any indication, Milano regulars have found their way to the new rose-hued spot (including frequent Main Street Market customer and local celeb John Grisham, whom Restaurantarama spotted chatting it up with the Caves during the celebration). And Restaurantarama, for one, thinks the pink building’s warehouse feel and vintage charm, as well as the café seating along South Street, more than suit Milano’s casual, Continental flare.
Chef Marisa Catalano of enoteca fame created Milano’s expanded breakfast and lunch menus for its new space on South Street.
Last week, we mentioned that Milano had expanded its breakfast and lunch menus to go along with the new space. Now Restaurantarama has learned that the chef who created the menu is none other than Marisa Catalano of enoteca fame. Catalano, who helped design and launch the Coran Capshaw-bankrolled Italian wine bar with fellow manager Megan Headley, left enoteca at the end of April. No scandal to report there—Catalano says she just needed a change of pace from the hectic schedule of running a restaurant and that she’s in a place in her life “where I need to keep moving and doing.” As for doing, Catalano keeps busy teaching classes at the Seasonal Cook and the Charlottesville Cooking School and is marketing herself as a restaurant consultant. When the Caves came a callin’ for help with casual, espresso-bar cuisine for Milano, Catalano says she jumped at the chance.
“We’re basing our model on more of a European-style,” says Catalano of Milano’s new menu. And by European style, she means small, inexpensive plates—there’s nothing footlong, super-sized or stacked to the ceiling here. In addition to the familiar pastries and gelato, there’s now a dainty cheese panino (for a mere $2.50!) with meat and vegetable add-ons (e.g. Genoa salami, roasted red peppers) available. There are also waffles for breakfast and savory and sweet tramezzini (Italian tea sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut off) served all day.
“We wanted to give people smaller, inexpensive options. That’s how the Europeans eat—little bits of lots of different things. The panino are small, but if you’re really hungry you can always order two and still have a $5 lunch.”
Catalano won’t be at Milano forever—she’ll turn the food prep reigns over to Milano staff once she’s perfected the model. But you’ll hear of her behind the scenes at another venue very soon, we think.
“I have a few potential projects in the works —you never know where I’ll pop up next.”
Here’s the part where we like to boast about food folks helping out other folks. This time it’s Red Hill Farm in North Garden. This family farm run by Wendy and Richard Harrison and their two children, Ryan and Rachel, supplies local farmers’ markets and grocery stories as well as the restaurants Orzo, l’etoile and Duners with their locally grown goodies. For the month of August, they’ve committed to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from their sales at the Saturday City Market to the annual Women’s 4-Miler fundraising efforts for breast cancer care at UVA. Wendy and Rachel are running the race (to be held August 30) for the second time this year, and the fact that they find time to train amidst all the tomato tending is commendable enough. You should get yourself to the City Market to support their efforts (and all the other local farmers too, of course).
Last week, a very upset reader alerted us that the Ponderosa on Pantops had closed. We hadn’t heard of the franchise’s demise, but sure enough, Restaurantarama pulled up to the doors on July 16 to find burly men in pick-up trucks carrying out red plastic trays by the hundreds—an auction of all the equipment was held that day. There’s no word yet on a new restaurant taking over the space.
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