Milli Joe owner Nick Leichtentritt has always had a special place in his heart for simple Italian cannoli, and he’s planning to bring his favorite dessert to Charlottesville at Sicily Rose, an Italian coffee and cannoli bar opening in September in the Studio IX space.
“Sicily Rose is a project I’ve actually been working on and thinking about for a couple years now,” he says. “I grew up in an Italian family in New York, so cannoli were always a go-to dessert for us, and now every time I find a good one I’m reminded of my childhood. The shop is named in honor of my Sicilian grandmother, Rose, who shared her love of Italian bakeries with all of her grandkids, and whose kitchen in New York was home to some of my earliest and fondest memories. She was in large part responsible for my lifelong love of food and the desire to share it with friends and family.”
Sicily Rose will feature a full-scale Italian coffee bar as well as American coffee favorites from Milli Joe. The made-to-order cannoli bar will stick to the traditional favorites.
“We’re not going to do a bunch of crazy flavors,” Leichtentritt says. “Instead we will have one style of fresh-made cannoli shells and a simple, authentic cannoli cream, which we will make in-house and fill to order. The cannoli will be topped with a choice of chocolate, pistachio, almond, or candied orange.”
Leichtentritt says he’ll also carry some unique Italian treats as well as local chocolates, local beer, and Italian wine.
There’s a new waffle kid in town: Good Waffles & Co. food truck has been making inroads over the past several months. The brainchild of newlyweds Steven and Danielle Stitz, Good Waffles combines their passions—he’s been cooking in the Charlottesville area for more than a decade, including a stint at the Clifton Inn, and she’s a graphic designer by training.
“We merged our love of both to start a business that we could do together,” Danielle says. “We love Charlottesville and being a part of this wonderful community. Owning our food trucks has allowed us the chance to meet so many great people here, and we hope to be around for a long time, serving up our waffles.”
The style they serve is the bubble waffle—the circular waffles are pocketed with bubbles to better hold accompanying sauces and ice cream, and they come in sweet and savory forms.
“A bubble waffle is basically a Hong Kong Egg Waffle,” Danielle says. “But we’ve adapted it with our recipe to fit our menu. It has beautiful round bubbles all over it. You can fork it, slice it, or my favorite: pull it apart with your hands.”
Steven recommends the classic chicken and waffles, with a mix of housemade Georgia mustard and North Carolina sauces with a homemade pickle. Danielle favors the lemon berry: a bubble waffle with vanilla ice cream, Meyer lemon curd and plenty of blueberries.
“We make what we love, and we love waffles with soul,” she says. “Add some fried chicken or some ice cream atop—you can’t go wrong. You could say that we picked the food, but really the bubble waffles picked us!”
Oakhart Social keeps growing
Oakhart Social has launched a private dining room above Public Fish & Oyster (in the former home of Opal Yoga, which has moved). The space seats up to 52 people, and boasts polished hardwoods and exposed brick, with wood paneling flanking a fully stocked bar.
Benjamin Clore, co-owner of Oakhart Social, says the private space that opened in April was used for overflow seating for graduation, and is now available for those seeking to host private functions.
Clore says the master plan involves a rooftop restaurant above Oakhart Social, in which the back half of the rooftop will be a building with an open kitchen and bar design similar in concept to that of Mas Tapas, with the kitchen on one side, and bar seating on the other. The front half will be open-air patio seating. Clore said all city approvals have been met but the project is on hold while they finalize the opening of their next venture, Little Star (across the street in the old Threepenny Café site).
“Little Star will feature American food with Spanish and Latin influences, and small plates like at Oakhart, largely wood-fired,” Clore says, adding it should open in October or November.
Get ’em while they’re hot
Wegmans will host its Hatch Chile Festival August 24-26. The festival, held over the next several weeks at select Wegmans locations throughout the country, has become a popular annual event, and originated as a way for the grocery store to promote a unique seasonal item, says the store’s media relations manager, Valerie Fox.
Fox says they’ll have a chile roaster set up near the entrance, and various departments at the grocery store will offer products that creatively incorporate Hatch chilies into their selections.
The chilies, grown in Hatch, New Mexico, the chile capital of the world, are a popular ingredient in Southwestern cooking, Fox says. Harvested four weeks each year, the chiles have a thicker wall than more common ones like the Anaheim, thus holding up nicely in recipes and freezing for year-round use.