For a pizza place that turns out pies in a matter of minutes, we sure had to wait a long time for Lampo, the real deal Neapolitan joint that opened on Monticello Road last month. Loren Mendosa, Ian Redshaw, Mitchell Beerens and Andrew Cole promised a fall opening, and the fellas came through just before the official end of the season on December 22.
“It’s about taking the time to make sure it is done right,” Mendosa said.
While it appears Lampo is going to prove to be worth the wait, it’s worth noting that waiting is going to be the order of the day for the foreseeable future at the 21-seat restaurant. Its first few lunches and dinners featured packed houses accompanied by serious social media buzz.
“The support has been overwhelming in a good way,” Mendosa said. “The comments we have gotten from customers have been fantastic. There is just more demand than we ever thought possible.”
If anyone was concerned the pizzeria concept might hamstring the talents of the guys who helped make Michael Keaveny’s tavola one of the most popular restaurants in town, the Lampo menu should put them at ease. In addition to the quick-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas topped with creative combinations of artisanal ingredients (e.g. the “funghi,” which features two types of local mushrooms, garlic, cream and two cheeses), Lampo is serving up a rotating sandwich menu featuring wood-oven cooked “panuozzis” filled with the likes of porchetta, garlic aioli, broccoli rabe, calabrian chili and provolone; small plate antipastis like preserved swordfish, chickpeas, orange and fennel; and soon-to-be-house-made salumis. Cole’s well-respected eye for food friendly beverages puts Lampo’s cocktail, beer and wine menus right on par with the food.
And Mendosa said the team isn’t finished yet. In addition to keeping an ear out for constructive criticism as the kitchen finds its rhythm and dialing in the amount of dough he needs on a daily basis, he and his co-owners are planning to start doing takeout in the next week and hope to open a 25-seat patio before spring arrives.
“You can’t grow just by hearing everything is great all the time,” Mendosa said. “I’m my own biggest critic, but sometimes it’s nice to hear from my customers. That’s been part of my process as long as I have been in the kitchen, and I know the other guys feel the same way.”
Fresh from the fryer
Two Virginia Beach business owners are getting their ducks in a row to open up a new breakfast spot in Charlottesville. Rebecca and David Johnson are bringing Duck Donuts, a made-to-order donut franchise that originated in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to The Shops at Stonefield early this year.
And by “donuts,” we don’t just mean a few glazed and chocolate-covered that have been sitting out on display for hours. Each donut is made to order—they fry it right there in front of you, and you have a selection of nine coatings and five toppings. Lemon icing with shredded coconut? Peanut butter icing with chopped peanuts? How about maple icing with bacon? Yep, that’s right—bacon.
“Someone comes in and says ‘I want a maple bacon donut,’ I’ll make it from scratch and give it to you,” Rebecca Johnson said. “You can’t get that anywhere else. We have Spudnuts here, and those are very good donuts, but ours are a little different.”
Johnson and her husband already own a couple of Duck Donuts stores in the Virginia Beach area, but soon they’re trading in their ocean for some mountains and moving here to focus on the new store. And once it’s up and running (they’re thinking March), they’ll start thinking about “trying to come up with a Cavalier donut to identify us with the area.”
More great takeout sandwiches are coming to the Downtown Mall. Brookville Restaurant’s Harrison Keevil said he’s now offering Brookville Boxes, takeout meals featuring a daily sandwich special, chips, a bacon chocolate chip cookie and a pickle, as a way to get the restaurant’s signature sammies back in the mitts of fans who’ve been missing them since he stopped lunch service several months ago.
“My desire to bring everyone our awesome, huge sandwiches is back,” Keevil announced last week.
Keevil is offering his buffalo chicken sandwich on Tuesdays, house roast beef on Wednesdays, a Virginia muffuletta on Thursdays and a locally-sourced Cuban on Fridays. The weekend sandwiches, Brookville’s signature fried chicken biscuit with bacon, fried egg, frisée, hot sauce and maple syrup on Saturdays and a bacon, egg and cheese number on maple bacon pancakes on Sunday, will be served with cornbread, honey butter and seasonal fruit salad. Patrons can order the $14 boxes up to the night before pickup by phone or e-mail. Pickup is between 11am and noon during the week and from 9:30-11am on weekends.