It’s hard not to notice a sign featuring the words “Nude Fude” on the side of the road. New-to-Charlottesville Culinary Institute of America graduate Ken Notari and his wife Dani recently hung that sign outside the old Cobb’s Pizza & Grill on Hydraulic Road, and their plan is to open a casual farm-to-table restaurant by May of this year. The name Nude Fude doesn’t reflect anything lewd or crude about the restaurant, according to the owners, but rather the simplicity of the ingredients.
“It’s an unadulterated approach to food,” Ken Notari said. “We want to make great local ingredients accessible to people on a quick service timeline and quick service price point.”
After retiring from a career as an Air Force pilot, Notari found himself in New York City, pursuing a long-time dream of learning how to cook on a professional level. He and his wife spent more than two years in the city, immersing themselves in the restaurant industry and cobbling together a plan for a family-owned restaurant. They came across Jarrod Brown, a Virginia native who happened to be in New York at the time, and teamed up to create Nude Fude. Despite Notari’s love for cooking, he’ll handle more of the behind-the-scenes restaurant duties while Brown manages the kitchen.
“Because of my operational background, it makes more sense for me to spend less time standing on the line and more time managing the operation,” Notari said.
The location was a deliberate decision. Notari and his wife looked at spots downtown and along West Main, but as residents of the area near Hydraulic (only two miles from the restaurant), they couldn’t help but notice that their own neighborhood seemed underserved when it comes to fresh local food. As for the grub they’ll serve at Nude Fude, that’ll vary depending on the time of year.
“We won’t have four distinct menus, but we’ll take advantage of what’s being harvested at the time as things kind of fall off the vine,” Notari said.
The current spring menu features small plates like a flatbread green pizza and egg skillet, main dishes like pork pastrami and turkey confit empanadas, plus sandwiches, salads and soups. The order-at-the-counter system is designed to get people in and out and on with their day fast, Notari said, but if you’re really in a hurry, you can grab a sandwich or salad from the restaurant’s retail market.
“Our idea is to get people home to their families as quickly as possible,” Notari said.
Notari expects to begin a series of soft openings in May, with a grand opening before the end of the academic school year. For more information, check out www.nudefudedudes.com.
The Asian Fusion Buffet on Route 29 by all accounts appears to be closed, but ownership isn’t coming to the door to explain.
The sushi and Eastern fusion spot in Seminole Square Shopping Center hasn’t been open for its posted business hours for weeks, its phone is disconnected and repeated knocks at the door went unanswered even after a worker indicated someone would come out to answer questions.
Patrons seem to be the last to know about the closure, as numerous regulars have shown up in the past two weeks only to find locked doors and a darkened dining room. When an elderly couple arrived for opening last Thursday, they were surprised and dismayed that the place they said consistently served them “really good food” was no longer in operation.
The last post to Asian Fusion Buffet’s Facebook page, which has 23 likes and 412 visits, was February 23. The restaurant’s website displays its menu of lo mein, chop suey and other Chinese staples along with sushi and sashimi, but it offers no further indications of why it’s been closed or if there are plans to open back up. A glimpse through the window shows a largely unchanged dining room aside from several workers moving about and ladders in place.
On Tuesday, April 28, the owners of El Tepeyac announced via Facebook that the restaurant will be closing its doors. The little spot tucked away in a strip mall on Greenbrier Drive started serving up authentic Mexican and Salvadoran grub in 2010, when it originally opened as a Mexican grocery store with a small food counter in the back.
Since expanding into a full-service restaurant, it’s become a Charlottesville staple of sorts, offering classics like tacos, gorditas and burritos, with meat ranging from the standard chicken and steak to beef tongue and tripe. The drink menu features margaritas made with the real stuff, not the electric green bottled mix, and horchata, a classic creamy Mexican beverage made with spiced rice milk.
If you haven’t tried anything on El Tepeyac’s menu yet, you’ve got less than a month. The restaurant will officially close on Sunday, May 24. The good news is the owners are considering making the food available via catering. So if you can’t live without the chicharron en salsa verde tacos or al pastor tortas, check out the restaurant’s Facebook page and respond to the poll.