817 West Main Street . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 260-8793
Why Parallel 38?
Parallel 38 is Charlottesville’s best restaurant featuring mezze, small plates of food rooted in the Mediterranean. Justin Ross, who co-owns the restaurant with Steve Pritchard, once managed perhaps the nation’s most renowned mezze restaurant, Jose Andre’s Zaytinya, in Washington D.C.. And, it shows.
The concept is ingenious: celebrate regions that hover along the 38th parallel, which are unusually rich in food and wine: Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the Napa Valley, and Charlottesville itself. Ross has a strong background in wine, and his list features nearly 100 carefully chosen wines, all available by the glass, focused on the same regions as the food. Once in a cavernous space in Stonefield, in 2017 Parallel 38 moved to its much different Midtown location while barely missing a beat. Formerly home to l’ Etoile, the two-story building with several small rooms makes for a setting that is cozy, dark, and inviting.
What to Order
All dinner guests receive warm, puffy, ovals of pita bread straight from the oven, with olive oil for dipping. For ordering, below are our suggestions, Ross’s suggestions, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where other area chefs and personalities have named a dish from Parallel 38 one of the best in town.
- Sauteed Shrimp
- Fried Smelt
- Skewered Lamb
- Roasted Pork Belly
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- Gnocchi – soubise, peperonata, fine herbs
- Boer Bok Skewer – Autumn Olive Farms heritage goat, ras el hanout, grilled naan, tzatzik
- Roasted Pork Belly – cipollini onions, roasted garlic, sumac, pork jus reduction
- Pan Seared Bronzini – brown butter, barberries, saffron potatoes, tomato concasse
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake – vanilla ice cream, spicy chocolate, lemon curd, milk crumble, allspice
Five Finds on Friday Picks
- Labneh — Dr. Kelly Davidson
- Shishito Peppers — Albee Pedone (formerly, Three Notch’d Brewing)
- Boer Bok Meatballs — Clay Trainum (Autumn Olive Farms)
- Roasted Pork Belly — Clay Trainum (Autumn Olive Farms); James King (King Family Vineyards)
- Housemade Gnocchi — Landon Saul (Vivace)
- Boquerones — Daniel Kaufman (Public Fish & Oyster)
- Cocktails — Christian Johnston (formerly, Tavola Cichetti Bar), Landon Saul (Vivace)