Restaurantarama



Life after Ming Dynasty

Life after Ming Dynasty

You can take the girl out of the restaurant business, but you can’t take the restaurant business out of the girl. Or something like that. In this case, we’re referring to Li Chen, former owner and matriarch of Ming Dynasty, who, three weeks ago, opened Café 88 next to Integral Yoga in the Preston Plaza. […]

Raw deal

Raw deal

We know you’ve been wondering: Just where do I go for a daily shot of wheat grass in this town? And how do I get a goji berry juice cocktail without entering into some wacko pyramid scheme? Well, those of you who care about your health and stuff have probably been wondering that. Those of […]

Humble roots

Humble roots

The new owner of Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie, Michael McCarthy, started his culinary career as a humble dishwasher at age 15 in Baltimore. Very Anthony Bourdain, no? Then McCarthy did the whole culinary school thing before cooking at high-pressure, upscale restaurants in San Francisco, Las Vegas and most recently at our own Ivy Inn. About […]

L'heist!

L'heist!

Last week we told you about the illegalities of forgoing the delicious fare at Buck Island BBQ. This week, we are disturbed to inform you about a straight-up culinary caper. L’étoile restaurant on W. Main Street was burglarized on Thursday, August 23. It all happened while the restaurant was closed for two weeks during the […]

Barbeque by law

Barbeque by law

“It’s illegal to shop here and not get barbeque,” one customer announced to the folks behind him in line at Buck Island BBQ—a new take-out place and country convenience store on Route 53. And that’s about right. So consider this a fair warning: If you stop by the shop to pick up a gallon of […]

The Corner of the market

The Corner of the market

For some of us, the end of August is tragic. It means the imminent closing of the pools, the coming curtain call on lazy days of shorts and flip-flops and cranky kids heading back to school. For Corner business owners, however, it means a welcome end to the summer famine. And it means massive hiring […]

Wine's world

Wine's world

We're not the only ones in the list-making business. Wine Spectator magazine, one of the resources for the vino-enjoying crowd, has been compiling an annual guide of the best restaurant wine lists around the globe since 1981

Clearing the smoke

Clearing the smoke

You know how it goes. The first one to adopt a new trend is always viewed suspiciously, if not scorned and ridiculed. Take, for example, the first few daring folks to don flared jeans just a few years ago. Admit it. Many of you in your high-waisted, tapered Levi’s looked down on the mavericks in […]

Storm front

Storm front

It’s getting so that we actually have to look where we’re going when we walk along the Downtown Mall. No more staring at our shoes hoping to avoid tripping over the grout-thirsty uneven bricks. The bigger danger these days is walking smack into the chained-off alfresco dining area of one of the Mall’s many restaurants […]

A little bit country

A little bit country

We at Restaurantarama have been telling you about some major shake-ups and shake-downs in the local dining scene. We’ve been dropping big names and getting all philosophical about hot spots closing and hip new joints burgeoning. Well, this week we are relieved to tell you about a person you’ve probably never heard of and a […]

Uptown tastes

Uptown tastes

Just when we were getting used to all the hip new dining joints on W. Main Street (so-called Midtown), along comes someone with an idea to up the sleek, modern, cool factor on the Corner. What’s next, a martini bar in the Meadowbrook Shopping Center? Asian fusion at the Tavern? There soon may come a […]

Livin’ is easy

Livin’ is easy

It was the start of summertime, and enoteca—the new Italian wine & panini bar in the old Vavino space—could not have picked a better date—June 21—to celebrate its grand opening. While the sunlight lingered on the longest day of the year, Restaurantarama guiltlessly sipped prosecco frizzante (that’s sparkling wine with just a whisper of bubbles) […]

Something’s brewing

Something’s brewing

Get hoppy: Taylor Smack, Mandi Smack and Matt Nucci (left to right) are cultivating the main ingredient for their Blue Mountain brews coming this fall. Picture this: You’re relaxing with friends on a balmy afternoon and enjoying the Blue Ridge Mountain views while you snack on a plate of cheese and charcuterie. You’re swirling your […]

Sign language

Sign language

Usually, Restaurantarama is interested in food before anything else (natch). As doggedly as bears seeking honey, we sniff out all that is fried, fricasseed, boiled, baked, chopped, tossed, smoked, steamed, poached and pickled in this here town of ours. However, once in a while we must pause to consider that restaurants are not only places […]

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

We have a new dining experience to tell you about: It’s called eating at home. O.K., eating at home is not really Restaurantarama’s forte. If left to our own devices we’d be scarfing down mac ‘n’ cheese in front of the TV every night like the rest of America. We much prefer the more civilized […]

Rewined

Rewined

You could think of Megan Headley and Marisa Catalano as young restaurateurs bursting with idealism (“It should be pure joy to go to work,” says Headley of the attitude she hopes their staff will sport) or as savvy and well-traveled foodie pros with the backing of a major local developer (that would be Coran Capshaw). […]

Somewhere to go

Somewhere to go

By the time you read this, the furor of graduation weekend, with its unholy crush of diners fresh off a major rite of passage and ravenous for a suitably memorable meal, will be over. Regular people will consider that a good thing, as will restaurateurs on their way to the bank. As for those of […]

Species shift

Species shift

People like naming restaurants after animals almost as much as they like eating animals inside those restaurants. Also, lately, they like the word “gastropub.” The first time we heard it applied to a Charlottesville eatery

Commence dining!

Commence dining!

College life is about learning, of course, and post-college life is about the furious consumption of luxury goods. It’s only proper, then, that gazillions of newly minted UVA grads and their mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, cousins and nannies will celebrate the great rite of passage that is commencement, scheduled for May 19 and 20, by […]

Novel-tea

Novel-tea

Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar owner Matteus Frankovich has made more room for you and yours to belly up to the bar. If you tried to stop by the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar the week of April 9, you might have been stymied. An Easter weekend renovation took a few days longer than planned—what renovation doesn’t?—but […]

Buzzworthy

Buzzworthy

It’s been a dozen years that Shenandoah Joe has been roasting coffee here in town. Talk mud with owner Dave Fafara, and you get an earful about the endless geekery one can undertake when it comes to those beloved brown beans. Just like its more-oft-discussed counterpart, wine, coffee is an agricultural product whose ultimate taste […]

In abundance

In abundance

If Ed Nafei cooks like he talks, expect generous portions. Restaurantarama has been eyeing the former Hong Kong spot on Emmet Street for weeks, ever since Nafei took it over and posted a sign promising

Put this on your plate and smoke it

Put this on your plate and smoke it

Charlottesville’s a city that loves to eat, located in a state that loves to smoke. Though you can certainly order up a mean shrimp veloute in this town, depending where you order it, its flavors will be tempered with the subtle essence de Marlboro wafting over from the bar area—for at least another year, that […]

Ciao, La Cucina

Ciao, La Cucina

After nearly four years of running their down-to-earth Italian joint on Water Street, Franky and Meridith Benincasa are moving on. La Cucina will be closed by the time you read this. Why? Two reasons. One, the Benincasas have a good incentive to leave: the chance to sell their restaurant to Bill Atwood, whose nine-story Waterhouse […]