When Bank of America announced in 2016 that it was leaving its downtown mall location, a line of potential tenants formed, each with different concepts for the grand, 100-year old building. Of all possible uses for the historic bank, though, it’s hard to imagine a better one than what landlord Hunter Craig ultimately chose: Prime 109.
The winning tenants were the team behind the Belmont pizzeria Lampo, who have brought to steak the same attention to detail they devote to Neapolitan pizza. The Lampo guide on The Charlottesville 29 says that its pizza alone would merit entry into The Charlottesville 29. Prime 109’s steak warrants similar praise. Even without the bells and whistles of a lavish steakhouse, a restaurant that served nothing but Prime 109’s steak could earn Best New Restaurant of the Year. The product is that good. Executive Chef Ian Redshaw sources entire cattle from Sherwood Farm and Highland Orchard Farm, has them processed by Seven Hills, ages the meat for sixty days or more, and breaks it down into steaks, which he grills to order on an open-flame grill custom-built by Blanc Creatives. Few if any steakhouses in the country can boast a menu full of local, heritage, sixty-day aged steaks. Some have called it the best steak of their life.
But, there is much more than steak. Redshaw’s kitchen includes chefs like Loren Mendosa, Mitchell Beerens, Bill Scatena, and David Morgan — as talented as they are creative in executing an entire menu separate from the steaks. Industry veteran and co-owner Shelly Robb leads what is already one of the most professional staffs in town. Bar manager Abraham Hawkins brings New York City polish to the cocktail program. Andrew Cole and Allie Redshaw have the wines in good shape. And, thanks to JAID + Figure and architect Stephanie Williams, the space is spectacular.
The result? For Charlottesville, it is ground-breaking. 2018 brought many good new restaurants to Charlottesville. But Prime 109 brought a dining experience unlike any we have seen here before. Charlottesville’s 2019 Best New Restaurant of the Year is Prime 109.