The Charlottesville 29

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

Area Restaurants Create 315K+ Meals for Hungry


Even if you’re not a money manager, you may have heard of ROI, a business term creeping into everyday conversation. Short for “return on investment,” it’s a simple metric to evaluate the efficacy of an investment – comparing the value of what you put in to the value of what you get out.

Over the past two months, in McGuireWoods’ The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions, area restaurants have offered thirty-one separate once-in-a-lifetime experiences to entice donations to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Those 31 restaurant experiences yielded more than 315,000 meals for the hungry. How’s that for ROI?

The Auctions’ Heroes

Of course, many others have contributed to the cause as well. McGuireWoods LLP underwrote the entire thing, with a donation to cover residual expenses. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank provided indispensable help. Elite University of Virginia coaches joined auction experiences as special guests. And, vendor, after vendor, after vendor came forward with generous donations of time, products, and services. One vendor donated coaster and poster design services and even threw in cash to pay for production.

Then there are the bidders. In some cases, an auction was won by a single individual with the resources and passion to make an enormous difference. In other cases, groups of friends pooled their funds to win restaurant auction experiences. In all, more than sixty bidders were among the winning donors.

It’s not just winners that helped, though. The unsung heroes of the auction were the runners-up, whose generosity and interest was essential to drive up winning bids, thereby creating more meals for the hungry.

The Right Thing at the Right Time: Moments of Kindness

At times I have wondered whether The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions did not belong in a year as unsettling as 2016. But when I thought about it more, I realized the auctions could not have been timed better. To combat the year’s repeated attacks on our confidence in human decency, the auctions have countered with reminders that, at their core, people are fundamentally good. There were too many heart-warming moments of kindness to document them all, so here are just a few.

After UVa’s second leading tackler in history won a fiercely competitive auction to have dinner at with UVa Football Coach Bronco Mendenhall, the runner-up insisted on making a generous donation anyway. When one food business owner learned she had outbid another food business owner to win a restaurant’s auction, she invited him to join her for the experience she won. A group of husbands won an auction for their wives as a ladies night out. A chef postponed a career move so that a bidder could surprise his wife with a birthday dinner. The two largest donors in all of the auctions – $8,150 for The Ivy Inn and $6,500 for Fleurie – asked not to be identified, choosing generosity over notoriety. A restaurant owner sparked a bidding war for his auction after vowing to volunteer one hour of service at the food bank for every 100 meals it yielded. And, even after the auctions ended, a restaurant not in the auctions created a dinner to reward a multi-time runner-up, creating even more meals for the hungry.

A Special Food Community

Earlier this year, I asked the restaurants of The Charlottesville 29 if they would be willing to create a VIP experience to auction off to the highest bidder, in support of the food bank. They all said yes. A few months later, we have more than 315,000 meals for the hungry.

How is that possible? It is possible when you have a food community as special and compassionate as Charlottesville’s. Entering the auctions, my goal for total donations was $29,000. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the restaurants, the total amount raised, including supplements to the winning donations, is $79,730. This is because each restaurant created an amazing experience that would never be available to a typical customer, and donated the entire thing, allowing every dollar bid to go directly to the food bank. I first arrived in Charlottesville nearly twenty five years ago, and I’ve never seen a greater outpouring of generosity by our food community.

If you’re like me, you may be wondering how you can show your appreciation for the food community’s generosity. The greatest tribute would be to enhance the fruits of their labor, and create even more meals for the area’s hungry. In short, you can thank the restaurants for their efforts by improving their already amazing ROI. Below is how to make a donation to the food bank in gratitude for our food community’s amazing work.

Thank you in advance for your support. Let’s help the restaurants feed even more of the area’s hungry.

  • Online (3% fee): On the Donate page. To show your appreciation for the food community’s efforts, you may “dedicate” your donation to “The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions.”
  • By Phone: (540) 213-8406. To show your appreciation for the food community’s efforts, you may state that your donation relates to The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions.
  • By Check: Payable to “Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.” BRAFB, PO Box 937, Verona, VA 24482. Again, please note on your check that it relates to The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions.

Charlottesville Support for Amatrice Grows

lampo dish

Spaghetti all’amatriciana at Lampo.

True to form, the Charlottesville food community has sprung into action to help those in need. On Wednesday, an earthquake wiped out Amatrice, the tiny Italian town that created one of the world’s most renowned pasta dishes, pasta all’amatriciana. The next day, several Charlottesville restaurants decided to put Amatrice’s famous dish on their menus and donate proceeds to earthquake relief efforts.

As soon as word spread, others in the food community volunteered to help as well. Vendors stepped forward to donate Lampo essential ingredients, like guanciale (JM Stock Provisions) and pasta (International Gourmet and The Chef’s Warehouse). Meanwhile, when restaurants Orzo and Vivace caught wind, they joined the cause, too.

For details and a full list of restaurants participating in the pasta all’amatriciana earthquake relief fundraiser, visit here.



Five Finds on Friday: Johnny Garver


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Johnny Garver, chef of Parallel 38. This weekend at Parallel 38, you can get pasta all’amtraciana, the dish made famous by Amatrice – a small town in Italy that was devastated by this week’s earthquake. Thanks to the generosity of the restaurant, all proceeds from the dish will go directly to earthquake relief efforts. Details and info on other participating restaurants are available here. Garner’s picks:

1) Grey Dove Oyster and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms from Bear Dog Farm. “If you enjoy local mushrooms at their highest quality and also reasonable prices, these are your guys. All you need is a little butter, salt, pepper,  and your favorite herbs. Quickly sauteed and you have mushrooms at their finest.”

2) Duck Breast Prosciutto from MeatCrafters at Stonefield Farmers Market. “Every Saturday from 9:00 a.m.until 2:30 p.m., you can catch them offering up samples of their cured meats. Their duck breast prosciutto is my absolute favorite. Sliced thin, it melts in your mouth and I actually prefer it to traditional prosciutto. They also have a few others worth sampling, such as the Chesapeake and the Black Truffle salamis.”

3) I Don’t Even Own *A* Gun from Twenty Paces. “This cheese is one of my local favorites and I always keep some on hand for my personal stock. You can find Twenty Paces tucked away towards Scottsville on the other side of Bellair Farm. The cheese is 80% sheep’s milk and  20% cow’s milk that has been washed in Champion Violator and aged 3 months resulting in a rind similar to Tomme. This semi-soft cheese is great for everyone because of it’s full flavor without being strong, sharp, or pungent.”

4) Beef Carpaccio at C&O. “It’s the perfect summer snack when it’s hot and I’m in downtown Charlottesville. It’s not too heavy but ends up filling. Chilled, thinly sliced seasoned beef, peppery arugula, Manchego, hash, and truffle aioli that always makes me smile. Also if you haven’t had their veal sweetbreads, you’re in for a treat.”

5) Feel Adventurous? at Tavola Cichetti Bar. “My favorite place to sit is always the bar and if you choose this option the bartender will guide you through your own personally crafted cocktail to fit your taste or mood. I’ve never been disappointed. While you’re there also try their baked little neck clams appetizer. Rustic Italian that you won’t to want miss out on!”

Charlottesville Restaurants Salute Amatrice


An Italian stamp honoring pasta all’Amatriciana

Amatrice is a small town with a big reputation. The signature dish of the ancient Italian town – pasta all’amatriciana – is world-renowned. While variations of the dish appear from time to time, the town itself insists that its sauce must always have just six ingredients: guanciale, pecorino cheese, chili, pepper, white wine and San Marzano tomatoes.

Sadly, Amatrice is “no more,” says Mayor Sergio Pirozzi. It was at the epicenter of an earthquake yesterday that destroyed more than 75% of the town. Amidst the devastation and rubble, one of the town’s only buildings still standing is a clock tower whose clock is frozen at the moment the earthquake hit. This comes just days before this weekend’s 50th annual spaghetti amatriciana festival was to be held in Amatrice.


Here in Charlottesville, restaurants are helping the cause by donating proceeds from pasta all’amatriciana to earthquake relief efforts.  Below is a list of participating restaurants. If any other restaurants wish to be added to the list, please let me know.

  • Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria is running it as a special tonight through next Saturday (Aug. 25 – Sep. 3) for $12, with 100% of proceeds going to earthquake relief efforts.
  • Parallel 38 will offer the dish Friday through Sunday (Aug. 26-28), with 100% of proceeds going to earthquake relief efforts.
  • The Ivy Inn will serve “amatriciana americana” Friday through Thursday (Aug. 26 – Sep. 1) for $10, with 100% of proceeds going to earthquake relief efforts.
  • At Tavola, bucatini all’amatriciana has long been a menu staple, and tonight through September 10, a portion of proceeds from the dish will go to earthquake relief efforts.
  • Vivace will run the dish as a special side tonight through Thursday (Aug. 26 – Sep. 1) for $10, with 100% of proceeds going to earthquake relief efforts.
  • Orzo is also participating. Details to come.



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