The Charlottesville 29

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

Category: Introductions

Café Frank is Here! A look at the menu and interior of Jose De Brito’s new restaurant

“A dream come true” is no hyperbole. Fans of Jose De Brito’s food have literally dreamt that he might one day open his own restaurant. While they may disagree where he reached his greatest heights — Ciboulette, The Alley Light, or Fleurie — none would dispute that the James Beard semifinalist is at his best when free to create whatever he wants. Like at his own restaurant.

Café Frank opens March 15 in the former home to Splendora’s on the downtown mall. By day, it offers De Brito’s grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pot pies, and pastries. At 4 pm, Apertif Hour includes De Brito’s small bites served a la carte with champagne, wine, or a cocktail. And at night, the dinner menu, at long last, belongs completely to De Brito. While he plans to change it often, the opening menu features dishes like beef carpaccio with oyster tartar and caper mayonnaise; house-made fettuccini with shrimp Bolognese and lobster tail; and Steak Diane with mushroom & bourbon sauce and scalloped potatoes.

Take-home meal specials change by night of the week. Currently, Thursday is Choucroute Alsacienne – braised pork, sausage, potatoes and Pinot Blanc sauerkraut. Friday is Cassoulet – pork, duck, and Tarbais beans, cooked in aromatics with a condiment of roasted tomato. And, Saturday is Blanquette de Veau – veal stew with rice pilaf and spring vegetables. Advance ordering required.


The new restaurant reunites De Brito with serial restaurateur Wilson Richey, who, in addition to The Alley Light, has launched The Whiskey Jar, The Pie Chest, The Bebedero, Brasserie Saison, Kama, and Milkman’s Bar.

As is his habit, Richey has assembled an experienced team. Managing is Johnny Frankenberger (MAS, Quality Pie, Rapture, Station, etc.). Overseeing the bar is Mike Stewart (Milkman’s Bar, Kama, and Commonwealth). Bar menu here.  And the design belongs to Stephanie Williams, whose previous projects include Lampo, Prime 109, and Kama. The interior already had “good bones,” said Williams, so she just reconfigured colors and space and uncovered an existing brick wall and chimney for a feel that is modern and sleek, but cozy and warm.

Located at 317 E. Main Street, Café Frank is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 am to 10 pm.

Diamond in the Sky: Pop-up Sandwiches at Little Star

Give the people what they want. And, the people want sandwiches.

That seems to be the mantra behind the new takeout menu at Little Star.

For some restaurants, the shift to the Culture of Takeout was a challenge. Not all foods and experiences translate well to disposable containers.

One food type made for takeout, though, are sandwiches, and Little Star chef and co-owner Ryan Collins is a sandwich fiend. Collins’ special affinity for a classic Italian sub, in fact, was a spark behind his interest in launching a sandwich shop out of Little Star. While Charlottesville has a few Italian sub riffs that Collins enjoys, nothing, he says, can scratch the itch like the original.

For an original, perhaps the most distinguishing factor is bread. There is great bread all over Charlottesville, but not much, if any, of the signature style for subs at Italian delis: hoagies with a crunchy exterior and soft, squishy exterior. For that, Collins turned of course to Charlottesville’s king of bread, Gerry Newman, at Little Star’s neighbor Albemarle Baking Company. Newman had already collaborated with Collins on pan estrella for Little Star’s instant classic pan tomate. Now, Newman’s bakery has fine-tuned a bread just for Little Star’s new sandwich program. “We listened to what Ryan was looking for and were always open to the changes necessary to improve the crust, crumb, and taste for the sandwich he had in mind,” said Newman. “We landed on a seeded semolina loaf that can hold an incredible Italian sandwich.”

Little Star’s Italians come either mild or spicy. The mild is the Fiat: mortadella, mild salami, marinated tomato, lettuce, onion, aged pecorino, and house dressing on ABC semolina Italian loaf. The spicy, the Alfa Spider, replaces mild salami with spicy.

The Bugatti is like the love child of a French Dip and classic pork and broccoli rabe. Braised beef cheeks, broccoli, aged pecorino, and hot peppers are stuffed into an ABC semolina loaf with a side of beef jus.

The Meep Meep is roasted cauliflower, Romesco, apricot mostarda, arugula, and onion, again on the custom ABC semolina Italian loaf.

Daily soups will change often. Salads include a Caesar and a salad of house made mozzarella.

Opening tomorrow, January 13, Little Star’s takeout sandwich shop will operate Wednesday-Saturday, 11:30 am – 7:30 pm. Meanwhile, Little Star’s regular menu will remain available for on premises dining  Thursday through Saturday.

Order takeout sandwiches here.

Charlottesville Goes Virtual: Keevil & Keevil Launches Four Virtual Restaurants

Meatball sub from John Street Deli

Virtual restaurants have reached Charlottesville. Popular in other cities, a virtual restaurant is essentially a restaurant without a dining room. Instead of you going to the restaurant, the restaurant comes to you. The concept was already on the rise before COVID-19, and the pandemic’s call for social distancing has only accelerated its growth. Other variations launching this week in Charlottesville include Cville Supper Club and Mr. Nice Guy.

One pro of virtual restaurants is versatility. Today, Keevil & Keevil is launching not just one virtual restaurants but four, each built around favorite foods of owners Harrison & Jennifer Keevil.

Fowl Mouthed Chicken specializes in Harrison’s own fried chicken — whether on sandwiches, or as platters with sides like fried pickles, creamed spinach, potato chips made to order, and “smoked carrot smash.”



John Street Deli
, named after the NYC street on which Harrison lived during culinary school, features deli classics: hot subs, cold subs, and egg sandwiches, all on fresh bread made daily by Albemarle Baking Company. Examples include meatball subs, chicken parm, and steak & cheese.


Bowls & Skewers builds a menu around grilled kebabs – chicken, lamb, pork or celeriac – which are available as platters with rice, pita, and sides, or as bowls over greens, rice, and toppings, like pickled onion, sweet potato, roasted tomato, and feta. Sandwiches include Late Night in London, a nod to Harrison’s time living in London: leg of lamb with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and yogurt dressing.


Got Baked Cookies
features Jennifer’s chocolate chip cookies, including versions with bacon, toffee, or peanut butter cups. There are also personal-sized pies: pecan, apples, or raspberry and frangipan tart.




Delivery hours are Tue-Thurs 11:30-7 and Friday 11:30-2, and orders can be placed from Keevil & Keevil’s website. Delivery only for now, with takeout options beginning next week. Meanwhile, you can follow each concept on Instagram: Fowl Mouthed Chicken, John Street Deli, Bowls & Skewers, and Got Baked Cookies.

“We look forward to cooking for our neighbors,” said Harrison.

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