This week, on March 3, The 2020 Charlottesville 29 will be revealed, answering: if there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29? To be eligible, a restaurant must have been open since January 1, 2019, allowing restaurants time to get their footing before being considered. But, some restaurants that opened in 2019 still warrant recognition, and they are in the running for Best New Restaurant.
The 2020 Charlottesville 29 Best New Restaurant will be announced tomorrow March 2. The finalists are:
The answer lies in a project set to launch later this year: retail sales of the restaurant’s mole sauces. Based on old family recipes from Oaxaca, those moles have already developed a following in the few months the restaurant has been open. Even chefs swoon. When asked to name the best thing they ate in all of 2019, two chefs – Loren Mendosa (Lampo, Prime 109) and Jose de Brito (Fleurie, Petit Pois) – named a mole from Conmole.
Given the reception the moles have received, the restaurant is now working on plans to package and sell them, which it hopes to do by the end of the year. Not takeout restaurant orders, but retail sales of the sauces themselves. In anticipation, the owners have renamed the restaurant. For Bustamante, the sentimentality of the word “Comal” made the change difficult. A comal is a tortilla griddle, and the image of his grandmother’s is a treasured childhood memory. But, the change was necessary, Bustamante says. With retail sales on the horizon, the new moniker will avoid potential trademark issues with other businesses named Comal, while also providing an appealing brand name to sell moles.
Meanwhile, the restaurant remains same as it ever was. See for yourself on Facebook and Instagram.
Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Nina Promisel of Greenwood Gourmet Grocery, which recently celebrated its 20th year as Crozet’s favorite gourmet market. In addition to sandwiches, salads, and prepared items, the shop has become knonw for its selection of gourmet and local goods, plus beer and wine, including one of the area’s best selections of natural wines, vermouths, and amari. Promisel’s picks:
1) Stir Fried Cabbage at Pad Thai. “Probably the single dish I think about more than any other in town, because it is so simple and perfect. Santi and family’s Thai food is delicious and authentic, and the hospitality is outstanding.”
2) Dumpling Soup from Sussex Farm. “It is my regular habit to reward myself on Saturday mornings for getting to the Charlottesville City Market early enough to get back to Greenwood in time to open up the store. If there’s no soup that day, the Breakfast Bowl (add avocado and kimchi!) also makes me feel victorious.”
3) Sauteed Escarole and a Negroni at Lampo. “At the other end of the day, I love
to score a seat at the bar at Lampo and have one of their perfect Negronis
along with an order of the escarole, and anything that’s on the specials list.”
4) Merguez Sausage and Winter Greens from Double H Farm. “We buy all kinds of amazing produce and meats from Ara and Gayane for the store, but for my own quick and delicious dinner, a pan full of the Merguez and a pile of whatever greens they are offering this week is hard to beat.”
5) Pulpo at Comal. “Finally made it to Comal, and was so impressed with our whole meal (basically one of everything on the menu), but the pulpo was so perfectly cooked and accompanied that it really stood out as a special dish. Can’t wait to go back.”