We thought summer was a time to relax. Not afraid to admit it—we were wrong. Restaurant openings, the arrival of a hot new chef, a unique Parisian-style wine-and-food event, and the return of a familiar player on the Charlottesville scene show that there’s no time like the present to charge ahead. Never mind the heat. A little sweat is good for the heart and soul. And the appetite, too,
A Starr is reborn
Starr Hill Brewery will celebrate a homecoming of sorts when it opens in 2020 at Dairy Market, now under construction on Preston Avenue. Although the brewery’s flagship is in Crozet, Starr Hill first operated as a music venue on West Main in Charlottesville, and featured acts like My Morning Jacket and the Avett Brothers from 1999 to 2007. Starr Hill’s departure from the city coincided with its incarnation in Crozet—in the former Conagra frozen food plant—where the emphasis shifted to beer, but music also remained on the menu. At the Dairy location, says Duke Hill, Starr Hill’s VP of sales, the music “will be local singer/songwriter focused” and “complement the overall feel of the room.”
It’ll be nice to have Starr Hill back in town—occupying 4,200 square feet inside and a 1,000-square-foot patio, no less. A five-barrel brewing system will allow the brewer to experiment with small-batch beers, as it joins 14 other Virginia food-and-drink purveyors, and artisans, following the food hall model found in other cities.
Wining and dining
Will and Priscilla Martin Curley promised ambitious offerings when they became owners of the Charlottesville Wine Guild earlier this year, and they are about to deliver. Their debut event, Bar Naturel, is a pop-up wine bar with a Parisian-style menu by chef John Shanesy of Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, and baked goods by the chef’s brother, Scott Shanesy, of She Wolf Bakery in New York City. Will Curley will serve wine by the glass and bottle from a list hewing to the “naturel” theme: wines made with native yeasts and grapes that are organic, biodynamic, and sustainably grown, including a super-trendy orange wine too. The menu, with small to large plates priced at about $8-20, will feature French cheeses, housemade charcuterie like boudin noir and paté champignon, oysters on the half shell, sardines with goose fat and apricots, and the traditional delicacy lièvre à la royale, made with wild hare, foie gras, and polenta. Intrigued? You can satisfy your curiosity from 6-11pm, July 12, 19, and 26, at Citizen Bowl, 223 W. Main St., on the Downtown Mall. 202-4223, wine guildcville.com
A top food destination in Staunton is The Shack, domain of Ian Boden, twice a semifinalist in the James Beard Best Chef Mid-Atlantic category. Boden’s inventive use of Southern ingredients shines in dishes like grilled pork loin with fermented sweet potato grits, guinea hen with Carolina gold rice and butter beans—and also in The Shack’s sorghum yellow mustard barbecue sauce. Bloomberg Businessweek magazine recently chose the sweet-but-zippy stuff as one of the nation’s five best BBQ sauces in a taste test by 30 editors, declaring, “It’s equally at home on duck breast or baby back ribs.” Pick some up at The Shack (and use the 80-mile round-trip drive as an excuse to stay for dinner), or order online at theshackva.com/shop.
The Shops at Stonefield’s Midici: The Neapolitan Pizza Company has disappeared from the websites of both the restaurant chain and the shopping center, and no one is answering calls at the upscale joint. Evidently, the Charlottesville shop has gone dark, and we hear it will be replaced by an outpost of Matchbox, the Washington, D.C.-based wood-fired pizza conglomerate. Meanwhile, in the Pantops Shopping Center, Mi Casita has opened, offering “Latin American breakfast, burritos, tacos, pupusas, and much more,” according to its website. A fan of the new restaurant called C-VILLE Weekly to rave about Mi Casita’s food, which is centered on the cuisines of El Salvador and Honduras (hence, the pupusas). Finally, Madison’s Early Mountain Vineyards welcomes a new executive chef, Tim Moore. A sous chef for the past seven years at the renowned Inn at Little Washington, Moore steps into the kitchen at Early Mountain on the heels of Ryan Collins, now of Little Star on West Main Street.