The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie

Five Finds on Friday: Ludi Avagyan

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Ludi Avagyan of Double H Farm. As the United States celebrates its freedom this week, Ludi and her parents became citizens. When the Avagyans arrived from Armenia sixteen years ago, Ludi spoke no English. She went on to finish near the top of her class in high school and now attends the University of Virginia. Ludi credits her perseverance to the example of her parents, who arrived with almost nothing and now own one of the most beloved farms in our food community. Read the story of the Avagyans’ amazing path to citizenship. Ludi’s picks: 

1) Lemon Meringue Pie from Albemarle Baking Company. “You can’t beat this perfect combination of sweet and tarty goodness. The lemony flavor is just right with a hint of sweet meringue on top. It’s the perfect treat.”

2) Iced Vanilla Latte from Petite MarieBette. “Every time I’m downtown, I find myself grabbing a latte from MarieBette. It might just be my favorite iced vanilla latte in town, and that’s saying a lot because lattes are my choice of drink at any coffee shop. I usually grab a plain baguette on my way out too.”

3) Don Juan Pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “They have the best pies, a must try for all pizza lovers. Topped with oven roasted tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and three varieties of cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, and feta) this makes for the perfect pizza. I also love to add pepperonis for an extra kick of flavor.”

4) Kale and Walnut Salad from Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. “A great vegetarian option and a healthy treat. This refreshing kale salad also includes strong flavors of dried cranberries, feta, with walnut balsamic vinaigrette.”

5) Local Chicken Salad Sandwich Melt from Feast!. “I love a good chicken salad, and Feast! has perfected it with gouda cheese and crunchy romaine lettuce on ciabatta bread I’d suggest adding bacon on top and grabbing a fruit salad as a side.”

Five Finds on Friday: Trish Dombrauskas

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Trish Dombrauskas, chef of Riverbirch Restaurant, which opens this month in The Shops at Riverside Village, on Stony Point Road. Cooking has been in Dombrauskas’ family all of her life, which may be why she attended the Culinary Institute of Virginia before a career in a wide range of restaurants and other food service jobs, the most impactful being chef at senior living communities. “Senior living taught me patience, and that a person developing a memory from an item you served them is the most superior gift that can be given to a chef,” says Dombrauskas. Riverbirch’s menu will feature gussied-up American comfort food, with a focus on local sources like The Local Food Hub, Cavalier Produce, Albemarle Baking Company, The Spice Diva, and Blue Ridge Coffee Crafters. Dombrauskas’ favorite is local ribeye, hand cut in house, finished with whole butter. She also likes the Riverbirch signature burger with local beef, topped with a local egg, house made farmer’s cheese, and onion jam. Dombrauskas’ picks:

1) Pupusas Revueltas at Mi Canton. “I discovered Mi Canton a year or so ago and have made it a regular stop of mine. There are so many delicious items on their menu, it is difficult to go wrong. But I always go back to the very first dish I had at Mi Canton, the pupusas revueltas. They are thick, Salvadorian tortillas stuffed with cheese, pork, and beans and served with a delicious fresh salad called cortido, a vinegary cabbage slaw that makes the dish perfection. The owners always make you feel welcome and you can tell they are proud of their products.”

2) Sicilian Style Pizza at Fabio’s in Gordonsville. “I moved to Gordonsville three years ago this past September and the first place I ate was Fabio’s pizza. Their pizza is phenomenal. My father grew up in New Jersey and as a kid I ate great pizza. Fabio’s in Gordonsville has great pizza, but I feel like the hidden gem is their Sicilian style pizza. The crust is thick, and they top it with the best cheese and toppings around. They even slice their sausage for their pizzas which is just the way I remember it as a kid. I love to chat with the owners, old school guys who know the importance of old school pizza. I always have a laugh while I’m there, because they remind me of my uncles back in New Jersey.”

3) The Fat and Sassy at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “Indulgent is the best word to describe this flatbread/cheese bread crossover. It is covered with full cloves of roasted garlic and served with the best house made ranch dressing around. Every time I visit it is a must for me to purchase a jar of their ranch dressing to take home. Dr. Ho’s has a fabulous menu, but every time I am drawn into the Fat and Sassy and it never fails how delicious it is.”

4) Potato Salad at Mel’s Cafe. “Mel’s potato salad is a simple mayonnaise, mustard, onion-based potato salad. It is simple, but delicious. It is the perfect side for any of their sandwiches or burgers. Mel’s potato salad reminds me of the potato salad my mom’s best friend makes, and ultimately it reminds me of home.”

5) The Black Beauty at Livery Stable. “The cocktails at the Livery Stable are well thought out and quite delicious. The ambience of the Livery Stable is what makes it an interesting spot to hang out. The Black Beauty is my favorite with raspberry vodka, cassis, and topped with ginger beer. It is bright and delicious. Be sure to sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders. They make the experience interesting to say the least.”

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Five Finds on Friday: Jeff White

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Blue Moon Diner has reopened, and today’s Five Finds on Friday come from a man who cooked there more than thirty years ago. Jeff White manned the grill of the Charlottesville icon from 1985-1987, married one of the waitresses, and, now, more than three decades later, is the top sports writer for the University of Virginia. For many UVa fans, his columns are daily must-reads. History class from White:

I started cooking for then-owner John Grier at the Blue Moon Diner late in my undergraduate days at UVa and continued working there (and down the street at the late, great Cotton Exchange, whose owners were Grier, John Hoy and Kirby Hutto) until moving to Richmond in 1987.

Back then, the Blue Moon’s grill was out front, a few feet from the counter, and the pressure of cooking in a packed diner ––– in full view of customers, with the jukebox blaring, while hungover on a weekend morning –– no doubt helped prepare me for the stress of writing newspaper stories on deadline.

Most important, the Blue Moon is where in 1986 I met Beth Pearce, whose brother Tom was a fellow cook. Beth later waitressed at the diner, and we were married in 1989.

It’s wonderful to see the Blue Moon open again, and it’s hard to go wrong with anything on its menu, which has expanded considerably since my time there. Here are five of my other favorites:

1) Hot Sicilian at Durty Nelly’s / Wayside Deli. “The GOAT when it comes to sandwiches. I’ve been placing the same order at Durty Nelly’s/Wayside Deli for 30-plus years and hope to continue doing so for another 30. It’s a heavenly combination of Genoa salami, turkey, provolone, onion, peppers and mayo on rye, all heated.”

2) Greg Brady at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. “The burgers at Jack Brown’s are, to me, the perfect size –– not too big, not too small ­–– and complementing the beef on this delicacy are mac and cheese, Martin’s BBQ potato chips, and a blend of American and cheddar cheeses. The fries are great, too, as is the selection of beers from around the world.

3) Burrito Michoacana at La Michoacana. “This low-key restaurant on East High Street was once a hidden gem, but its excellence has been common knowledge around town for years now. Keep the option of a post-lunch nap open after eating one of these burritos. You may need it.”

4) Ragin’ Cajun at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “I’m a sucker for andouille, and this pie also features Creole-spiced shrimp, green peppers, roasted red peppers and mozzarella. Dr. Ho’s, of course, has Blue Moon ties. Its founder, Jerry Danner, ran the diner after buying it from John Grier.”

5) Cookies and Cream Milkshake at Crozet Creamery. “A group of us in the athletic department has a tradition we hold dear. When one of the UVa teams we support (as writers, videographers, photographers, etc.) picks up a significant win –– almost any conquest of Virginia Tech qualifies as such – we celebrate by treating ourselves to milkshakes. My victory shake of choice is one of many fantastic offerings at my local ice cream parlor, whose other options include the (Jack) Salted Caramel.”

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Jeff White, Blue Moon Diner, 1985