The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Ian Redshaw

2016 Dish of the Year: Szechuan Pastrami Panuozzo


I have this thing.

Whenever I come across an extraordinary dish, I have an impulse to share. If I’m dining with others, I’ll give it to them. If I’m alone, I’ll blurt about it on social media, or even offer it to strangers. The aim, I imagine, is to bring to others the same human-created joy I am experiencing, as if to say: “look what we are capable of.” I used to think this was a universal part of human nature, but years ago when I told a friend about it, he said he has the opposite reaction: hoard the good stuff. Alas, universal or not, the strength of my impulse to share a dish has become a trusty indicator of how much I enjoyed it.

In choosing my 2016 Dish of the Year, then, a place to start was recalling dishes that caused me to share. Not surprisingly, the most common place for this to happen was Lampo, the Belmont steakhouse pizzeria where chef-owners Mitchell BeerensLoren Mendosa, and Ian Redshaw never stop dreaming up delicious specials to complement an already stellar menu. And, sure enough, the standout among all of the year’s impulse-triggering dishes came from Lampo’s kitchen. It was one I enjoyed so much that, after tasting it, I took to social media to tell as many people as I could, emailed friends I hadn’t seen in months, and even forced it upon the stranger sitting beside me at the bar.

My 2016 Dish of the Year is Lampo’s Szechuan Pastrami Panuozzo with burnt corn aioli, Brussels sprouts slaw, Schnebelhorn cheese, and ramp kimchi.

Panuozzi are essentially sandwiches made from pizza dough. At Lampo, they all start with the same foundation: a beautiful, warm, soft, oval of dough, irregularly charred with spots of enhanced flavor by the extreme heat of the wood-burning oven. That heat allows Lampo to cook the bread to order, in a matter of seconds. What didn’t take seconds is the time and effort Lampo’s chefs spent perfecting the dough, yielding an ideal building-block for a sandwich. Hot out of the oven, the bread  is sliced open and stuffed with any of the menu’s variety of combinations. Last year, three chefs named one – the porchetta – as the best thing they ate all year. This year, a chef named another one – the polpettine – as best of the year.

My choice for dish of the year was a special panuozzo created by Ian Redshaw, and drew on two of his great strengths as a chef: a passion for meat and a knack for combining flavors. A devotee of charcuterie, Redshaw became inspired to make pastrami in April after learning that Katz’s Deli – NYC’s temple of pastrami – survived a possible closure. So, he tracked down the finest brisket he could find, from Sherwood Farm, and set to work. More than two months of work.

First, he dry-aged the brisket for sixty days. Next, he brined it in equilibrium for a week. After that, he dried it overnight in a coating of Szechuan pepper, fennel pollen, and Aleppo pepper. Finally, he smoked it with wood from leftover bourbon barrels. That’s just the meat.

To assemble the sandwich, he drew on other inspirations at the time. “I had been obsessing about corn aioli, and it happened to burn, creating another layer of flavor,” he says. Though he initially imagined sauerkraut with the pastrami, “on the fly” he switched to Lampo’s popular Brussels sprouts salad. As for the cheese, Redshaw had recently received a sample of one he thought would work well from Nadjeeb Chouaf, the national cheesemonger of the year. And, finally, the most assertive ingredient of all was a kimchi of ramps Redshaw had arranged to be made by Sussex Farm.

As a home cook, I can follow recipes, and I have even reached the point of adding my own riffs to techniques I have come to understand. But, only a gifted chef like Redshaw, who also created the 2015 Dish of the Year, has the mental palate to “taste” combinations of flavors in his mind without even putting them in his mouth. Combinations that trigger the sharing impulse.

“Shake-my-head good,” I wrote on social media. “I can’t believe how good this is,” I emailed a chef I hadn’t seen in months. When he asked where, I responded: “Lampo. Sorry for the random email, but when I enjoy something this much, I inevitably have an irresistible impulse to share.” And, share I did. I sliced off a quarter of the sandwich, and slid it down the bar to the unsuspecting man beside me. Lucky guy.

The next day, I went back and had it again. Did I enjoy it just as much? No.


“Best Thing I Ate All Year” 2016

Looking back at 2016, what stands out as the best thing you ate all year?  Top area chefs provide their answer. (Here are last year’s picks.) A tribute to Charlottesville’s bounty:

Mitchell Beerens (Lampo)

Agedashi Tofu at Now & Zen. “The silken tofu is made crispy by dusting it in potato starch and frying it. Then, it’s set in a spa of tentsuyu broth made smoky from the katsuobushi and a little sweet from mirin. Perfect balance of big flavors.”


Craig Hartman (BBQ Exchange)

Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana at Parallel 38. “When restaurants around the world jumped to support the town of Amatrice in Italy after it was devastated by an earthquake, we were fortunate enough to experience a version of Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana at Parallel 38. Their version was almost exactly the same as what we experienced in Italy. It was also so delicious that we went back the next night to have it again.”


Brian Jones (The Alley Light)

Brebirousse from Flora Artisanal Cheese in Timbercreek Market with Seeded Roll from Albemarle Baking Company.  “The seeded roll is a beautiful roll, made from baguette dough,  crusted in fennel seeds, poppy seeds and white sesame seeds. What a yummy combination of flavors. Brebirousse is a soft, smooth, creamy, buttery sheep’s milk cheese from the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Not to take anything away from these two ingredients, but food memories often have more to do with the eater’s condition at the time of the meal than the actual meal itself.  Food always tastes better when you are hungry!  I have eaten at some amazing restaurants in my life but I the best meal I ever had in my life was on a backpacking trip when our rations were low and our calorie output far exceeded our calorie intake. We savored every last morsel, scraped our cooking vessel clean, so clean that there was nothing left to wash. Possibly food is at its best  when the aromas or tastes remind you of a forgotten memory lost somewhere in the back of your mind. Think Ratatouille the movie when the food critic Anton Ego bites into Chef Remy’s ratatouille.”

cheese seeded

Christian Kelly (Maya)

Duck Liver Terrine at The Ivy Inn.  “This pâté en terrine is a slice of art. The perfect suspension of fat in meat wrapped in what appeared to be paper-thin cured duck breast slices and served with traditional pommery mustard and pickled vegetables. Angelo’s food is truly inspiring. The work of his kitchen is a delight to the taste buds. Well done.”


Tommy Lasley (Fry’s Spring Station, Ivy Provisions)

Live Scallop with Uni Broth at Mican (now closed). “The best thing I ate this past year was way too much amazing sashimi at Mican Japanese Restaurant, which unfortunately is no longer open! Everything I had was the best example I have tried in years, Charlottesville or otherwise. If I had to pick one bite it was the live scallop with uni broth.” [Note: Mican’s owners are now serving sushi at Lemongrass.]

Thomas Leroy (Kardinal Hall)

Pork Belly at BBQ Exchange. “I went there and ordered  the meat combo plate of course. The ribs were outstanding, but that pork belly with a fried crispy finish to balance the smoking flavor was amazing. I topped it with their bacon bbq sauce of course. Next time I go, that’s all I’m ordering.”


Michael McCarthy (Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie)

Salt Honey Pie from Greenwood Gourmet by Polina Chesnakova. “Nuff said.”

Loren Mendosa (Lampo)

Olive Oil Gelato from Splendora’s. “I don’t know if PK’s running it regularly, but it was truly fantastic. She used our Mosto olive oil from Liguria and we topped it with sea salt and a drizzle of the Galardo olive oil that Hodges and Jill Myers are importing. It was the perfect combination!”


Jenny Peterson (Paradox Pastry)

Roasted Chicken and Street Corn Off the Cob at The Fitzroy. “Holy moly! Food tends to be an ‘in the moment’ experience for me, and that chicken and corn just hit the spot at the right time, and it was so comfy and cozy in there.”

chicken corn

Ian Redshaw (Lampo)

Sunchokes from Wayside Produce. “Any vegetable from Wayside Produce, especially the sunchokes. These are the best vegetables I have been able to find thus far in my career.”


Ivan Rekosh (ZoCaLo)

Flank and Brisket Pho at Thai Cuisine & Noodle House. “This time of year I’m loving the pho from Thai Cuisine. I usually opt for the flank and brisket but sometimes add the tendon. The broth is amazing. I love to stick my whole face in the bowl and breathe in the steam while I’m slurping the noodles. Really warms you up from the inside out on these cold days. Also a great family runs it.” 


Wilson Richey (co-owner, The Alley Light, The Bebedero, The Pie Chest, Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar)

Chicken Liver Mousse Tart at Timbercreek Market. “Just redefined what can be done with chicken liver, so smooth and elegant. I would eat the whole tart if it were not frowned upon to do things like that.”


John Shanesy (Petit Pois)

Black Bean and Corn Relleno at ZoCaLo. “It hits on every texture, and all the flavors are very well pronounced but at the same time all working in unison to be a joy to eat. They’ve been great new neighbors to get to meet and have greeted me so warmly as well.”


Andrew Silver (ZoCaLo)

Polpettine Panuozzo at Lampo. “Meatball parm sub was my go-to late night, altered state, munchie meal.  Lampo’s is the refined, grown up version.  Plus the fact that the bread is baked ‘a la minute’ seals the deal.”


Angelo Vangelopoulos (The Ivy Inn)

Petit Kouign-aman from MarieBette. “I found this gem at the city market. Will Darsie filled my request for a mixed bag of goodies while I picked up my veggies from Susan and Wally Parks at Broadhead Mountain Farm. It’s an over the top decadent croissant dough masterpiece with apples and a metric ton of butter and sugar. My market visit is no longer complete without one of them.”


Tristan Wraight (Oakhart Social)

170 Dry Aged NY Strip at Lampo. “Ridiculously delicious. Cast iron crispy and served with a head of roasted garlic. Not even fair.”


Tucker Yoder (Timbercreek Market)

I Don’t Even Own a Gun by Twenty Paces.  “I Don’t Even Own a Gun and Noah’s Arcade are some of the best cheeses I have ever tasted. Could easily rival European cheeses. Great funky cheeses. All their cheeses have been a revelation this year but the soft gooey ones are a Yoder family favorite.”



Birthday Feast at Sultan Kebab


On chef Ian Redshaw’s 28th birthday, I had the good fortune of celebrating with him at his favorite restaurant, Sultan Kebab. You can read all about the birthday feast in this week’s C-VILLE Weekly. And, below are some additional shots from the meal, courtesy of excellent photographer Tom McGovern:

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