The Charlottesville 29

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

Support Mental Health, Win Epic Gelato

gelatoSupport mental health, win epic gelato.

For the past several weeks, Splendora’s Gelato‘s “Love Letters to Charlottesville” have been weekly flights of six flavors created by owner PK Ross in homage to some of her favorite local artisans. Week one of the love letters, for example, included the following flavors, as described by Ross:

Chili lime sorbet: a collab with Chimm

Bodo’s everything bagel gelato: “They’re an institution for a reason, and a flight celebrating Charlottesville wouldn’t be complete without them.”

Buttermilk + honey gelato: Collab with Prime 109 for a dinner highlighting The Elysium Honey Company. “I miss the talented brains in P109’s kitchen. Diego and Carrie of Elysium knock me out of my socks with their food knowledge and stewardship of the land.”

Olive oil + parmesan gelato: “Lampo has asked me to do some wackadoodle flavors and I’m grateful for their faces.”

Chipotle vanilla with coffee-soaked cherries gelato: “Dustin at C & O Restaurant once used a gelato as a drink inspiration, so I took one of his drinks and turned it into gelato (leaving out the bourbon though).”

Fancy Leather Couch gelato: “A riff based on a drink at The Alley Light. Hands down my favorite seat of a Sunday is that bar. The flavor is whisky with earl grey, allspice, and a touch of lemon zest.”

Now, you can win all four installments of Splendora’s Love Letters to Charlottesville. And, all you have to do is support local mental health initiatives – a cause Ross says needs more attention. “Mental health struggles in the food and hospitality industry are very real and very rarely discussed,” said Ross. “We deal in making people happy, and facilitate celebrations. No one wants to know when we’re sadsacks, but, as it turns out, food service industry workers are still humans, and it’s important to address our mental health needs.”

To win a chance to enjoy the entire series of Love Letters to Charlottesville, just make a donation of any size to any of the following: The Women’s Initiative, On Our Own Charlottesville, Charlottesville Free Clinic, or Charlottesville Area Harm Reduction. Email your receipt to, and you will be entered in a random drawing to be held on August 30, the last day of Splendora’s downtown mall location.

A Pandemic Escape: Evenings on the Hill at Pippin Hill


In normal times, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is not open for dinner. The vineyards’ events schedule is so jam packed that, at 5 pm each day, staff usher out guests, leaving only to their imagination what it might be like to dine as the sun sets on the vineyards’ stunning grounds.

But, we are in a pandemic. And, for all the devastation COVID-19 has wrought, there are a few silver linings — opportunities that would not exist but for the unprecedented times. With the pandemic wiping out Pippin Hill’s events calendar, the vineyard is now open for dinner on select evenings. As we dined last night on the vineyards’ veranda with a group of friends – socially distanced from one another – the same comment recurred: “Why would we go anywhere else?”

It’s not just the setting — though that alone would be reason enough to spend an evening on the hill. It’s the entire experience. If not for servers’ masks and the fact that food and wine are delivered to a table next to your table, you would hardly know there was a pandemic. During a time when the virus seems to consume our psyches every minute, that escape is priceless.

Service hasn’t missed a beat. The decades of experience in the hospitality industry of owners Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton still show. And, the food is as good as ever, too. With sister restaurant Red Pump Kitchen temporarily closed, the vineyard has reinforced its kitchen and front of the house with staff from Red Pump. It’s a team that is capable of leaving you thinking, if just for a moment: “Pandemic? What pandemic?”



The kitchen takes the “ugly” tomatoes from the vineyard’s own garden and blends them into a vinaigrette to bathe the pretty ones in a salad of heirloom tomatoes, grilled cucumber, and burrata, topped with garlic crumb


Sauteed peach and shishito pepper with goat cheese, toasted pecan, and honey

Book your escape here

Five Finds on Friday: Martha Stinson


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Martha Stinson, of Stinson Vineyards, which allows several ways to enjoy its wine through the pandemic. Reserve online for outdoor bottle service and wine flights at the vineyard. Shop online for curbside pick-up or free delivery within 20 miles. Have it shipped to you, with free shipping for 4+ bottles. Or, best of all, escape to the vineyards’ Inn at Stinson Vineyards, including a free wine tasting, hot breakfast, and stunning views from the patios and swimming pool. Stinson’s picks:

1) Hunt Brother’s Thin Crust Pizza from Piedmont Store in “downtown” White Hall. “You can add toppings such as pepperoncinis, but plain cheese is great. Perfect for pool days at the Inn.”

2) Collard Greens at Smoked Kitchen & Tap. “Practically a whole meal by itself. Cooked in the Southern style, with a mix of their meats.”

3) COVID-19 Wine Flights at Stinson Vineyards. “These were a group design effort – we used my husband’s architectural drawing software to make the printouts.

4) Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese at Bodo’s. “Warm, soft and chewy. Would make New York jealous.”

5) Soup of the Day from l’étoile Catering. “My all-time favorite is the seafood bisque – every bite is different.”