The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Cote-Rotie

Charlottesville 2019 Best Food Truck: Côte-Rôtie


Fans of the NBA in the ’80s and ’90s may recall writers’ efforts some years to give the league’s MVP award to someone other than Michael Jordan. No one doubted that Jordan was the most valuable player on the planet. And yet, whether out of boredom or just to do something different, pundits would sometimes find a reason to give the award to someone else.

Those pundits might find it uninteresting to give the same food award to the same recipient year after year. And yet, among an excellent crop of food trucks and stands in Charlottesville, one continues to stand out. Talented as they may be, the greatest virtue of Côte-Rôtie’s Peter and Merrill Robertson is not their talent. It’s their passion, which shows in everything that comes off their truck. Côte-Rôtie serves food made by people who love to eat for people who love to eat.

As in 2017 and 2018, the winner of the 2019 Best Food Truck or Stand is Côte-Rôtie.

Testaroli by Cote-Rotie


Food mashups are not just social media constructs or modern food crazes. Some are time-honored parts of culinary history. Take testaroli, which is essentially crepe pasta — made by boiling cut-up pieces of crepes. 2017 Best Food Truck Cote-Rotie uncovered this delicacy for me today, and I am sure glad they did. The traditional preparation method requires live wood fire and huge cast iron vessels. That’s how it’s been done for years in Tuscany. But, in today’s global food world, Cote-Rotie owners Peter and Merrill Robertson encountered the dish not in Italy but at a restaurant in Kansas City, on a stop during a recent drive across the country. When they got back, they figured out a way to make it on their truck, perfected it, and then added their own touch. Voila!

Served with pesto, Schuyler Greens spinach, and crab poached  in beurre blanc, it is delicious. Available right now – February 16 – at Champion Brewing Company, which works out well because it just so happens to pair beautifully with another mashup: “Fruit Melee” – Fruit Basket Double IPA blended with Melee Session IPA.

2017 Best Food Truck: Côte-Rôtie


Charlottesville’s food truck scene has become so prolific that all of the 2017 finalists for Best Food Truck warrant recognition, whether for a legit po’boy, spot-on lumpia, an unctuous taco de cabeza, destination-worthy barbecue, or down-home sweet potato fritters. Yet, even among that great group, one stands out.

Graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, the husband-and-wife team of Peter and Merrill Robertson came to Charlottesville in 2015 from the Hamptons, where they had run an acclaimed and ambitious restaurant. The Hamptons’ loss has been our gain, as the truck they launched here, Côte-Rôtie, is now the best in town.

More than anyone in the area, the Robertsons revel in the freedom that the food truck format gives them. They cook what they want, when they want. True lovers of food, their tastes range from sophisticated to down-and-dirty comfort food, and span a wide range of cultures, too. Depending on their mood, a Japanese hand roll of eel and avocado or Chatterly oysters with sweetbread pork belly farce might share menu space with a good-old-fashioned sausage-egg-and-cheese biscuit or a guajillo-chile pork stew.  On your next visit, you might find no Japanese, Southern, or Mexican food at all,  and instead linguini alla bolognese, chicken ballotine cooked in foie gras fat, or a version of steak frites that rivals any bistro. The Robertsons’ truck is even decked out with a yakitori grill shipped from Japan (try the sweetbreads!) and a rotisserie for roasting ducks, chickens, pork shoulders, and more.

Côte-Rôtie has a regular Sunday gig at Champion Brewing Co. and is often there Tuesday as well. To catch their latest location, follow along here.

Check back tomorrow for 2017’s winner of Best New Restaurant.