Restaurant Week welcomes four new participants and more local restaurant news

Erik Alvarez, manager of La Joya Mexican Restaurant, said Restaurant Week is the perfect chance for his restaurants in Charlottesville and Crozet to debut some new spring menu items. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto Erik Alvarez, manager of La Joya Mexican Restaurant, said Restaurant Week is the perfect chance for his restaurants in Charlottesville and Crozet to debut some new spring menu items. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Restaurant Week welcomes four new participants

It’s that time of year again, y’all: Pick a restaurant (or two or three) you may not otherwise visit (or select your favorite where you eat every week—who are we to judge), make a reservation and treat yourself to a three-course meal. Charlottesville Restaurant Week runs from January 22-30 and is bringing back plenty of old favorites. The concept is still the same, but this time around we’ve got different price points, a new beneficiary and some restaurants that are on the docket for the first time.

As a result of a roundtable discussion among participating chefs and restaurant owners, the price point for Restaurant Week meals increased from $16, $26 and $36 to $19, $29 and $39. The group also decided to extend the week to nine total nights, Friday through the following Saturday. And $1 from every meal will go toward a scholarship fund for the Piedmont Virginia Community College Culinary Arts program.

“We decided to participate because it’s another way to support our community, which is a benefit to both parties,” says Erik Alvarez, manager of La Joya Mexican Restaurant, one of the four Restaurant Week newbies. La Joya is among the restaurants serving $19 three-course meals. “Also so our customers can come and try some new entrées, which we’ll be serving on our new menu this coming spring.”

New to the game, too, and on the $19 list, is Miso Sweet, the ramen-and-donut shop on the Downtown Mall that opened its doors last summer after Eppie’s vacated the space. Co-owner Heather Paris says she and her husband/chef/business partner, Frank, have always enjoyed Restaurant Week as guests at other places, so it made sense to offer the experience for their own customers. 

“The menu [Frank] prepared will include our signature noodle bowls and at the same time debut a few other items that we are hoping will show Charlottesville that we are a multitalented restaurant that offers more than just ramen bowls,” Paris says.

Menu items include pork belly and house-made kimchi sandwiched between halves of a cinnamon-sugar donut; Chashu chicken bowl with steamed rice, sunny side up egg and pickled vegetables; and donut au rhum, a miso-glazed donut soaked in rum syrup and topped with golden raisins, currants, candied walnuts and whipped cream.

Other new players include Timberwood Grill, offering a $19 meal featuring items such as a soup sampler, steak frites and a peanut butter mousse torte; and Monsoon Siam, with northern Thai-style pork sausage, green curry salmon and taro dumplings for $29.

For more information about Restaurant Week, check out participants’ menus inside this week’s C-VILLE or go to charlottesvillerestaurantweek.com.

Who needs sleep when you have sweets?

There’s a new cookie in town. Well, okay, there are a bunch of new cookies in town, and they can be delivered freshly baked to your door at all hours of the day and as late as 3am when you’re cramming for an exam, binge-watching Netflix or just awake and craving something sweet. Introducing Insomnia Cookies, a new-to-Charlottesville company that delivers treats such as cookies, brownies, milk and ice cream in 27 states.

According to Marketing Director Megan Bruton, Insomnia Cookies originated at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, when then-student Seth Berkowitz “found that he craved sweets late at night but the only things available were heavy meals.”

“Let’s be honest, we all watch what we eat from time to time, but we also all indulge, and the classic indulgence is cookies and milk,” Bruton says.

Items to indulge in include traditional cookies such as snickerdoodles, white chocolate macadamia nut and oatmeal raisin; deluxe cookies such as chocolate peanut butter cup and s’mores; and the cookiewich, which is exactly what it sounds like—a scoop of ice cream between two traditional or deluxe cookies. You can also order ice cream by the pint or quart, or in a scoop on top of a cookie or brownie. For more information, check out insomniacookies.com.

But Insomnia Cookies isn’t the first to bring fresh baked goods to the sugar-craving night owls of Charlottesville. Campus Cookies, founded by James Madison University alum Scott Davidson, came to the University of Virginia in 2013 and has since been delivering treats such as strawberry shortcake cookies, cinnamon rolls and cookie cakes all over town into the wee hours of the morning.

I scream, you scream

Let’s be honest—it’s never too cold for ice cream. Or gelato. And Splendora’s is here to remind everybody of just that during the winter months.

The Downtown Mall favorite is serving all-you-can-eat gelato every Wednesday during the months of January and February. That’s no misprint. All you can eat—for $10. So if you can never decide between pistachio, espresso and raspberry, now you don’t have to. As long as it’s Wednesday.

Now, there are rules of course—you can’t just go in and request a vat of scoops to take home with you. You must consume one scoop at a time, and there can be no new customers after 8:30pm.

For more information, check out Splendora’s Facebook page.