The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Durty Nelly’s

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

Five Finds on Friday: Laura Jawitz

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On Fridays, we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities. Today’s picks come from Laura Jawitz, the award-winning baker at Greenwood Gourmet. Since her January move from New York, where she baked for Brooklyn’s acclaimed Pies & Thighs, Jawitz has quickly developed a following around town for her amazing pies. Jawitz’s picks:

1)  Cheeseburger, “All the Way” at Riverside Lunch. “I love a huge, fancy, grass-fed burger, but there’s a deep truth to the Riverside burger that really speaks to me. It’s always seasoned perfectly, just the right size at four ounces, and really tastes of flat-top (which is like the terroir of greasy-spoon joints) in the best possible way.”

2)  Glazed Spudnut at Spudnuts. “This cloud-like and ethereal pastry is just perfect. I can’t think of a way to improve it, and I also can’t eat just one.”

3)  Fried Chicken at Wayside Takeout & Catering. “Wayside chicken is so aggressively seasoned that I almost prefer it cold the next day; especially if it’s eaten out of a cooler that’s caught in the net of an inner tube floating down the James River.”

4)  Hot and Numbing Tofu Skins at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “I still can’t believe that Charlottesville has Szechuan food that rivals some of New York City’s best fringe Chinese food. The tofu skins have that perfect balance of spicy, sour, salty and earthy that all great Szechuan food has, plus an addictive chewy texture. Might be one of the top five things I’ve ever eaten in my life, no joke.”

5)  Budweiser at Durty Nelly’s Pub. “I think that all good dive bars possess certain qualities, and minus cheap whiskey, Durty Nelly’s has just about all of them . . . solid tunes on the juke, friendly but not chatty bartenders, an assortment of arcade games, and very cold beer.”

Five Finds on Friday: Michael McCarthy

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On Fridays, we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities.  This week’s picks come from Michael McCarthy, chef/owner of Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie.  McCarthy’s picks:

1)  Hot Sicilian sandwich at Durty Nelly’s Wayside Deli.  “Rye bread makes life better, plain and simple.”

2)  Fried Chicken at GOCO on Cherry Ave.  “There is a lot of fried chicken out there, but this is the BEST hands down.”

3)  Crab Cakes at Duner’s.  “The real deal, lots of lump crab and pleasantly seasoned.”

4)  Pork Souvlaki Dinner at Tip Top Restaurant. “They know how to hook it up!”

5)  Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb at Ivy Inn Restaurant.  “Everything Angelo touches turns to gold, but the rack of lamb at the Ivy Inn is perhaps his biggest culinary achievement.”