Restaurants are not the only ones in the Charlottesville food community the pandemic has hit hard. Our outstanding catering businesses, home to some of the area’s best chefs, are also on the brink. And, just as restaurants have done, caterers are getting creative to try to survive. As with restaurants’ creativity, the beneficiaries are the rest of us, gaining new ways to enjoy Charlottesville food that never existed before.
One is A Pimento Catering’s “Bit e Pezzi.” Run by chef Gay Berry, A Pimento has been among Charlottesville’s most beloved caterers for more than a decade. Just check out these amazing reviews. Berry also once “won” Five Finds on Friday when she provided a picture of herself in which to one side of her head was the word “Negroni” and to the other side of her head was an actual Negroni.
In normal times, to enjoy Berry’s cooking you have to plan an event, or be lucky enough to invited to one. Now that a pandemic has decimated event schedules, though, Berry has introduced takeout dinner service for the general public. Her menu changes each week, but always keeps a heavy focus on local sourcing, drawing from the bounty that surrounds us. Diners place orders 48 hours in advance and choose their pick-up date and time, Thursday through Saturday. The only downside is that the mouthwatering menus make choosing almost impossible. To receive the weekly menus, email email@example.com.
There are typically four entree options, a selection of sides, and tantalizing groupings like “Treats and Appetizers” and “Miscellaneous Indulgences/Must Haves.” We assembled dinner from all of the menu sections.
Our meal began with a few of the Miscellaneous Indulgences/Must Haves, including “Our Always On-Hand Romesco.” Romesco is a Spanish sauce of roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic, tomato, and spices. “I’d eat it on a shoe,” the menu says. We opted for vegetables. Delicious.
We also ordered Beet Borani, a Middle-Eastern dip of beets and yogurt. How could we not? The menu calls it “the most gorgeous thing you’ll ever dip a chip in.”
Our entree was Italian Pork Cabbage Rolls in White Wine Sauce, with dill.
One side was a salad of baby arugula, roast butternut and delicata squash, fennel, grapes, and shavings of Twenty Paces Commander Chicory cheese, all tossed in sherry vinaigrette.
Our other side was grilled cauliflower steak with blood orange and Picholine olives.
Our assembled dinner.
Berry even has the wine covered. A serious oenophile, Berry lists a selection of her favorites each week to pair with the food. Ours was Dirty and Rowdy “Familiar”, a versatile red blend where Mourvèdre takes center stage.
The menu was so alluring that we couldn’t resist adding a few snacks for the weekend, the highlight of which was a pork rillettes made with pork from Autumn Olive Farms and Free Union Grass Farm. A Pimento’s motto is “food is love,” and for the rillettes Berry shrewdly joined slow-cooked pork with an orgy of its lovers. Pork loves sweetness, and for that Berry brought prunes. Pork loves acid too, particularly vinegar. And, perhaps most of all pork adores fennel. Pickled fennel, then? Pork has never been happier. What an outstanding dish.
Bit e Pezzi will not last forever. Once the pandemic ends and event schedules return to normal, Berry may not have time for it.
Enjoy it while you can.