The Charlottesville 29

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

ABC: What Would We Do Without It?


Albemarle Baking Company is so essential to our food community that it’s hard to imagine life without it.  Few, if any, food businesses would Charlottesville miss more than the world-class bakery opened in 1995 by Gerry Newman and Millie Carson.  Sundays, when the bakery is closed, are our weekly reminder not to take it for granted.

One longtime restaurateur I spoke with recently can recall life B.ABC.  (before Albemarle Baking Company), and shudders at the thought.  “There was no bread!” she said. “We had to bake our own.”  Even setting aside the way the bakery’s bread makes our sandwiches, its cakes improve our celebrations, and its delicious pastries brighten all of our mornings, think how much we would miss the ritual that ties together restaurant experiences all over town. A sliced ABC baguette with butter.  It’s how we start a meal in Charlottesville.


Five Finds on Friday: Mitch Willey


On Fridays, we feature five food finds from local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Mitch Willey, owner of Clifton Inn, home to one of Charlottesville’s most influential restaurants, and recent winner of yet another award as C-VILLE’s best hotel or inn.  Clifton has just introduced a brand new a la carte menu, a first for the longtime prix fixe restaurant, which Willey says now “enables guests to stop by for just soup and salad or pasta and dessert, paired with the perfect glass of wine.” Clifton is also fast-approaching a milestone and big celebration. On October 22, the inn will host a 30th anniversary, poolside dinner dance “to honor the many gifted artists who started their culinary careers at Clifton,” says Willey.  Also, that night, Willey says, Clifton “will share some very exciting news. Stay tuned!” Willey’s picks:

1) Corn Cakes at Tip Top.  “I love to start the day being greeted by the delightfully friendly and efficient wait staff at Tip Top on Pantops. I settle into a window booth with my three morning papers (where the natural light is plentiful and I catch a nice view of the Blue Ridge) and order the corn cakes with a side of bacon. Decadent but splendidly so.”

2)  Pimento Cheese Fritters at Maya.  “One of our early chefs at Clifton, Christian Kelly (who the staff quickly designated as our resident George Clooney), has created a cult following at Maya and I am one of those cult members! I especially love to start a delicious dinner with Christian’s pimento fritters — light and cheesy, and the pepper jelly is divine. A perfect start to a terrific meal.”

3)  Pulled Pork at The BBQ Exchange.  “Craig’s pulled pork, with his creative array of sauces, is the way that I reward myself if I have really been working out because the indulgence is so amazing that I can only justify it if I have earned it!”

4)  Grilled Pork Chop with Grilled Peach Salad at Brookville.  “Harrison has so many delightful interpretations of pork that I find myself trying something new each time. In fact, my daughter’s rehearsal dinner was hosted there last Labor Day primarily because of this!”

5) Pear Ravioli at C&O.  “I can’t go very long without a generous helping of Dean Maupin’s pear ravioli at C&O — a dish he featured at my other daughter’s wedding when he was the chef at Clifton. It is so subtle in its flavor and somehow seems almost healthy as the fruit is front and center. As always, Dean gets the sauce just right and while often it is a starter, on occasion I have requested it as a main course since I just can’t get enough.”

Five Finds on Friday: PK Ross

On Fridays, we feature five food finds from area chefs and personalities.  This week’s picks come from PK Ross, owner and gelato magician at Splendora’s Gelato.  In recent weeks, Ross has been working on some serious cocktail and beer gelatos to prepare for a whole week of them during the second week of September.  Details to come on their Facebook page.  Meanwhile, Ross’s picks:

1) Knish from Balkan Bakery/Fig at City Market.  “I wish I knew what witchcraft she uses to make her dough; it has the perfect elasticity and bite.  And spiced potatoes in a pocket-sized round?  Donezo.”

2) Chirashi Bowl at Now & Zen. “Honestly, the head-on shrimp does it for me.  And the spicy tuna goo.  And the roe.  And sometimes there’s mackerel in it.  And you get the point.”

3) Head Cheese at Timbercreek Market.  “There is a distinct possibility I housed a quarter pound of it as lunch and dinner in one day.  Great spices, gorgeous aspic texture between meaty bits, without being overly unctuous.  I’ll be stalking their meat counter for it regularly.”

4) Thai Gyoza at Thai Fresh.  “I need fast and easy with the hours I keep, and I hit a trifecta with these because they’re also delicious.  I think the goo alongside them has fish sauce, and the world needs more fish sauce.”

5) Chickpea Salad at Greenwood Gourmet.  “I go to Greenwood when I run to Crozet/Nelson for peaches/plums/etc.  I started stopping there for the exceptionally curated beer selection but since I was browsing anyway why not get the brightest, crunchiest chickpea salad ever?”




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 156 other followers