The Charlottesville 29

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

Flash Forward: The Return of Lampo

Remember this? (Photo by Tom McGovern.)

Reports of Lampo’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

When the beloved Belmont pizzeria closed to launch a takeout outpost in IX Art Park, some wondered if the original Lampo would ever open again. Those worries heightened this year when word spread that the property on which Lampo sits was for sale. Some said Lampo was done.

But, there’s good news. Very good news. As longtime tenants of the property, Lampo’s owners have now bought it, assuring the restaurant’s presence in Charlottesville for years to come. Lampo has not offered on-premises dining since March 2020, devoting the last 25 months to strict contactless takeout service, to avoid spreading COVID-19. But soon, the OG Lampo will be back.

Same as it Ever Was

What can people expect when Lampo reopens? Same as it ever was, says co-owner Andrew Cole. “We want Lampo to feel much as it did when you were last there two years ago,” said Cole. Same pizza, same menu, same setting. And, perhaps best of all, same outlet for chef creativity: the specials menu, something that regulars have dearly missed. “We’re very, very eager to have that outlet again,” said Cole. “Initially you can expect us to keep it simple with some old favorites, but as we settle in and ramp back up, the specials menu will be where we get to really spice it up and share the dishes we’ve been working on during quarantine.”

Cole says that the re-opening has been a long time coming:

To say the last two years have been an emotional rollercoaster is grossly over simplifying things. We went from shuttering the doors on two restaurants, and eventually losing one altogether, to pivoting to a completely different business model at Lampo and getting wrapped up in the excitement and challenges that come with essentially starting a whole new business. We were beyond fortunate with how the community embraced the concept of Lampo takeout, and quickly found ourselves overwhelmed with trying to fulfill the demands of operating a takeout business in a restaurant that was only set up to be a dine in establishment. This of course led to Lampo as you currently know it at IX Art Park. We’ve been so incredibly lucky in how we’ve been able to turn the necessary changes wrought by the pandemic into a way to maintain and eventually grow the business, and the fact that it also provided us with an outlet and distraction during this time was honestly a blessing.

Lampo2Go will continue to operate for takeout 7 days a week, while the OG Lampo will be dine-in only, and they can’t wait to see the faces they’ve missed. “It’s just not the same without customer interaction,” said co-owner Loren Mendosa. “It’ll be good to see everyone again, finally feel normal again.” Cole agrees. “The people who filled the restaurant on a regular basis and became good friends I missed tremendously,” said Cole. “With reopening Lampo, I’m most excited about reconnecting with all those old faces and hopefully some new ones as well.”

Lampo will reopen this summer. Stay tuned for an opening date.

Five Finds on Friday: Emily Harpster

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come Emily Harpster, who has just launched Sugarbear –  made-from-scratch ice creams celebrating great local ingredients of Charlottesville. Buttermilk with Strawberry Jam, for example, swirls in jam from Jam According to Daniel, while Honey Sea Salt Latte draws on Lone Light Coffee and Hungry Hill Farm honey, and Vanilla Blueberry Stracciatella features shards of Gearharts Blueberry chocolate bars. Flavors change often, so check out what’s in the the freezer at MarieBette or order online for pick-up at MarieBette.

A graduate of UVa, as well as ice cream college at Penn State, Harpster’s Charlottesville culinary roots run deep, all the way back to the original Tokyo Rose, where she worked as an undergrad. After more than a decade on the west coast, she and her husband returned to Charlottesville “because we love it here,” says Harpster. “In many ways, my ice cream is a love letter to Charlottesville.” Harpster’s picks:

1) Everything Prezzant from MarieBette. “I spend a lot of time at Marie Bette, so I feel like I am a connoisseur of the MarieBette baked goods library. Honestly, the everything pretzel croissant (prezzant) cannot be beat. It cannot. It is a perfect creation. Also a perfect creation in the cupcake department: cupcakes by Tammy. Have you seen what she can do with frosting? She is basically a magician.”

2) Coconut Shrimp from PineappIes Thai Kitchen. “I’m sort of obsessed with everything Pineapples Thai does. We always have to put in a double order for their coconut shrimp.  They are light, perfectly crispy, and perfectly sweet.”

3) Golden Milk and Cocoa Macarons from Bowerbird Bakeshop. “Good macarons are not easy to pull off, and we have world class seasonal ones from Bowerbird? They are like pretty, colored, delicious jewels. They are one of my favorite presents to give.”

4) Blackberry and Apricot Jam from Jam According to Daniel. “I’ve had a lot of jam in my life, and I have never had jam as good as the jam that Jam According to Daniel makes. Ever. You can put it on anything.”

5) Double Smash Burger from Oakhart Social. “I love a good cheeseburger. Shout out to Oakhart, whose smash burgers got us through some of our hardest pandemic days. Unfortunately, our kids no longer consider other burgers acceptable.”


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