The Charlottesville 29

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

Category: Introductions

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.

Otto Turkish Street Food Brings Doner Kebab to Charlottesville

A Turkish place just off the downtown mall owned by “Turkish natives . . . who . . . met while working at the Clifton Inn.” Sound familiar?

Well, now there’s another one. Otto Turkish Street Food opens today at 111 West Water Street, most recently home to Modern Nosh. With an outstanding Turkish restaurant just a stone’s throw away — also opened by Clifton Inn alum — some may wonder what sets Otto apart. In a word, doner.

Doner kebab is beloved in many parts of the world — Germany alone eats more than 2 million per day. Dating back two centuries to the Ottoman empire, the dish of meat cooked on a vertical spit is the ancestor of the gyro in Greece, shawarma in the Middle East, and tacos al pastor in Mexico.

Much to the dismay of fans of doner on a spit, though, there’s none in Charlottesville. With Otto, Turkish natives Ali Sevindi and Haldun Turgay seek to fill that void. (Sultan Kebab serves a doner kebab variation cooked on the grill.) Graduates of Hospitality and Business School, Sevindi and Turgay came to the United States in 2013 and met while working at Clifton Inn, where Sevindi was the Food and Beverage Manager. More recently, they worked together at Oakhurst Inn.

With a background in fine dining, Sevindi and Turgay had long imagined they would open a high end restaurant together. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they shifted to something more affordable. For that, they turned to Turkey’s beloved street food, doner kebab, which they thought would lend itself well to a fast casual concept. After months of research and practice, they seem to have it down.

They start with three cuts of beef – brisket, chuck, and sirloin – which they marinate in minced onions, salt, and pepper. Next, they stack slabs of the beef high on a vertical rotisserie, which chars the outer layer brown with flavor, while the interior stays moist. To serve, they shave off thin slices by cutting vertically down the exterior. There is also a chicken doner made from slabs of breast and thigh, shaved the same way.

The menu offers three ways to enjoy doner – wrap, bowl, or sandwich — along with a choice of Turkish toppings and sauces, like sumac onions, hummus, tzatziki, and esme, a Turkish red pepper paste. Sevindi’s favorite is a sandwich stuffed in fluffy, house-made pita bread.

There is also house-made falafel, likewise available as a sandwich, wrap or bowl.

So, what do Sultan Kebab’s owners think about the upstart down the street?

They are thrilled. Close friends of Sevindi and Turgay, Sultan Kebab’s owners even helped them launch their new restaurant. Who wouldn’t want doner kebab on a spit nearby?

Starting Friday December 4, Otto is open daily from 11am – 9pm.



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