One of our favorite Charlottesville restaurants is closing its doors.
When it opened in 2014, Parallel 38 filled a void in Charlottesville dining by focusing exclusively on mezze, under the stewardship of a former manager of one of the nation’s best mezze restaurants. It also boasted the area’s largest selection of wines by the glass, spot-on barrel-aged cocktails, and an interior as transporting as any in town.
Add to that stellar food, and you’ve got a lock for The Charlottesville 29. And, we’re not the only ones to heap praise. In 2014, The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema said Parallel 38’s food was comparable to a three star restaurant in D.C. or New York. In 2015, Maya chef Christian Kelly ate the best thing he ate all year there. And, last year The BBQ Exchange’s Craig Hartman likewise named a Parallel 38 dish the best of the year. Indeed, every year since it opened, it has made FSR Magazine’s list of Top 100 Independent Restaurants in the country.
In the end, the restaurant’s undoing was the same nagging challenge that dogged it throughout – its location at Stonefield, a shopping center some love but others love to hate. After the original owners sold the shopping center last year, Parallel 38 and the new owners could not reach agreement on a new lease. And, so it goes.
Personally, we will feel Parallel 38’s absence most acutely on birthdays. I threw my wife a surprise birthday party there. She threw me a surprise birthday party there. Twice. (Does that make me trusting, or gullible?)
Beyond the labneh, pork belly, wine, cocktails, and naan a-la-minute, though, what we will miss most are owners Justin Ross, Steve Pritchard, and their staff. What a great crew, full of heart. Parallel 38 has been an enormous supporter of the Charlottesville community, with regular fundraisers for charitable causes around town. To boost bids for an already incredible donation for last year’s Charlottesville 29 restaurant auctions, Ross, one of the nicest guys in the business, offered to volunteer at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank for a number of hours in proportion to the winning bid.
The good news is that they’re not gone quite yet. You’ve still got a few days to squeeze in your last visits. And, what better way to thank them for three great years and their tremendous community support than to send them out with a bang?
Parallel 38’s last day is Sunday, January 29. Go!