The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

The Corner: Take It Away

Take it Away

Photo by Ali Hornung.

Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, by digital media students at The University of Virginia. Today’s student contributor is Ali Hornung.

The Background

For more than 20 years, Tom Bowe has been committed to the art of a quality sandwich.  Raised in a food loving family in Williamsburg, Bowe began his career in retail before realizing that his real passion was for food, and deciding to open a sandwich joint.  After hunting for the perfect location, Bowe concluded that UVa’s The Corner had everything he wanted.  There, he thought, students would venture away from dining halls and eat all day, rather than being restrained by the business eating pattern.

He opened Take it Away in 1992, and, from the start, he knew the location was right. The student energy was striking, he found, as they filled tables and even the sidewalk ground when seats were unavailable. But what he loves most is when students return to Charlottesville after venturing into the real world, and make a point of coming to Take it Away. Bowe’s regulars visit so often that he knows many on a first name basis.  One of his greatest satisfactions is connecting with familiar faces returning to their alma mater and savoring a sandwich.

The Experience

Take it Away is all business.  Walk in, head to the counter, and a server awaits your order.  As soon as you’ve uttered it, it’s passed back to the kitchen, and minutes later, your name is called.  If you’re quick, you might be able to resist the array of impulse-buys that surround you.  Hesitate for even a moment, and you may succumb to the gourmet chips, chocolates, cookies, and more.

But, the real attractions are the sandwiches — in part because of the healthy portions and in part because of the quality of ingredients, over which Bowe says he is “unwilling to compromise.”  From arugula, to sprouts, to roasted tomatoes imported from Italy, to fresh baked bread, there are all the makings of a stellar sandwich.  But, all serious Take it Away customers know that there is only one real star of the show: House Dressing, which every Take it Away regular asks for on their sandwich.  Bowe is well aware of the importance of the condiment to his business’s success. “The name of the business is Take It Away,” he says, “but it really should be House Dressing.”

So, what’s in it?  Bowe is hesitant to reveal the recipe, but describes it generally as “a blend of herbs, spices and whole grain mustard.” Whatever it is, Bowe suggests it on any sandwich. “It’s just plain yummy!”

What to Order

What should you order? Students, Bowe said, often keep their order short and sweet, with just roasted turkey with the House Dressing. Personally, I’d suggest the roast beef, roasted tomatoes, arugula and House Dressing on French bread.  But, ask the guy who has run the place for more than 20 years, and he doesn’t hesitate. Get the Saturday special, he says. Ham, cucumbers, and house dressing on pumpernickel bread.  Whatver you order, just don’t forget that dressing.

Two for Tuesday: Dr. Larry Sabato


Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, by digital media students at The University of Virginia.  Today’s student contributor is Meghan Kasel.

Tuesdays during The Corner series feature two favorite Corner food items selected by a different University figure each week.  With Election Day just a week away, this week’s picks come from one of the nation’s leading election experts, Dr. Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, author or editor of two dozen books on American politics, and according to the Wall Street Journal, “probably the most quoted college professor in all the land.” If you want to know who is going to win next Tuesday, check out Dr. Sabato’s Crystal Ball.  If you want to know what to eat on The Corner, check out his picks, below.

1)  Avocado and Feta Pizza from Christian’s Pizza.  “The crush of students at Christian’s Pizza at all hours of the day and night reminds me of the University Diner and University Cafeteria (both long gone), that I frequented as a UVA student.  When the lines aren’t quite as long (mostly on holidays and during exams), I love stopping in for a slice of the Avocado and Feta pizza.  This is a vegetarian’s dream!”

2)  Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel with Cream Cheese from Bodo’s.  “It’s hard to find a better breakfast than a fresh from the oven bagel.  Perfect every time.”

Five Finds on Friday: Anita Gupta


Photo by Jen Fariello.

On Fridays we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities. It’s wedding season, so today’s picks come from Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, one of the area’s most sought after creators of wedding cakes, among other desserts.  For her picks, Gupta focused on what she knows best: her favorite sweets and pastries around town.  Gupta’s picks:

1)  Macaron Ice cream Sandwiches from Got Dumplings food truck.  “These giant ice cream sandwiches are awesome and they have great flavors like green tea and red bean. If you get a hankering for these at one of the local festivals, make sure you order more than one. You will want another and if you wait in line again, they will be gone . . . and you will be sad.”

2)  Churros at Al Carbon.  “Everything on their menu rocks (get the yuca fries), but the best part is when you order your food at this counter service cafe, you will only get your main dish. They don’t start making your churros until you have finished your food. Fresh, piping hot churros dipped in cinnamon sugar.  Add a scoop of ice cream and you will experience nirvana.”

3)  Pastries at Paradox Pastry.  “My friends and I head to Paradox whenever we have a birthday to celebrate. We grab a table, and perhaps some champagne, and each get a different dessert to share. I head here when I want someone else to bake for me.”

4)  Flourless Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow at Rocksalt.  “Rappahannock Oysters followed by rich, dark chocolate . . . ‘nough said.

5)  Gulab Jamun from Milan.  “This is where I go for a little taste of home. A little pastry ball (almost like a doughnut) soaked in a cardamom-infused simple syrup.  Seriously rich and completely nostalgic.”



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