The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Lampo

Five Finds on Friday: Lisa Richey

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Lisa Richey, the very supportive ex-wife of Charlottesville’s most prolific restaurateur Will Richey. Lisa suggested Will provide her background:

“I have shared many of the greatest meals of my life with Lisa. We both share whatever that thing is that makes a person seek out great, authentic, well made cuisines. We have traveled extensively together, and we started a farm together. It was not to produce food alone, it was to produce food that was interesting to us in ways that we connected with. We still reach out to each other for travel tips knowing that the first priority when traveling for each of us is researching the best places to eat. Lisa’s recommendations are always at the top of my list.”

Lisa Richey’s picks:

1) Gulf Coast Salad as a Wrap from Revolutionary Soup (owned by Will Richey). “Look, I want to eat healthy, but eating a salad with a plastic fork is a bummer. The combo of shrimp, hard-boiled eggs and avocado makes this my healthy go-to lunch, and putting it all in a wrap makes it easier to eat at my desk. And yes, I do frequently order the Lisa Quesadilla. I’m a sucker for anything with goat cheese.”

2) Fried Chicken and Collards at The Whiskey Jar (owned by WIll Richey). “Sure, I love the BBQ Nachos, and The Jar Salad, but if I’m craving something from The Jar, it’s fried chicken with the honey jalapeno dipping sauce. The collards remind me of how we used to eat when we lived on the farm, but now I don’t have to actually harvest anything which somehow makes this recipe taste even better. I also adore the Creamed Spinach and Sweet Potato Dumplings. I also think The Jar is the best place for a business lunch with out-of-towners – you can get French or fusion in most cities, but the client who seems shocked at how small CHO is definitely needs the full Southern experience, sweet tea encouraged. (And yes, I am from NJ.)”

3) Dealer’s Choice at The Alley Light (founded and formerly owned by Will Richey). “I think this place has the best ambience of any restaurant in town. Robin and Chris continue to make The Alley Light shine, so much so that it’s hard to pick just one dish. However, I always start with the Anchovy Toast, as it is the perfect way to set your palate for everything that’s to come. Then I order whatever carpaccio is on the specials board, followed by something braised. Micah and team make magic at the bar. Their attention to detail, down to the glassware, is evident and joyful. I usually request some sort of high ball with a gin base, and I love how the bar incorporates local fruits and herbs.”

4)  Wine List at Cafe Frank (owned by Will Richey). “The great irony that Will’s first sit-down restaurant (The Jar) sells basically no wine wasn’t lost on us. Cafe Frank is the bistro I always assumed he’d want to run. It’s a great spot to go for happy hour and order an assortment of snacks while splitting a bottle of wine with that friend you’ve been meaning to make plans with for months. Also, the Mushroom Fritters go perfectly with a bottle of Burgundy.”

5) Classic Burger at Högwaller Brewing (owned by Will Richey). “I live right down the street from Högwaller, which may buy my future cardiologist a beach house someday. But until then, my idea of a perfect weekend day is a sauna at Rivanna River Company, followed by a Classic Burger and a Rives Street Lager. It’s just a burger, sure, but it’s the platonic form of a burger. And I love a beer that is both delicious but also low enough ABV that I don’t need to take a nap later. Mark makes awesome beer, and it has been a blast checking out the new taps each Thursday and chitchatting with folks around the firepit.”

“Wait, Other People Are Crazy Enough to Own Restaurants?!”

1) Banh Mi at Vu Noodles. “This may be the official sandwich of Apex Clean Energy employees. This is the only tofu I have ever craved and I probably eat this once a week.”

2) Clam Pizza at Lampo. “If I had a bat signal, it would be checking Instagram to see if this pizza is on special. When I was little, my grandfather made me linguine with clams for any special occasion, so you could say this flavor profile is my Ratatouille moment. Tavola’s linguini con vongole also makes me feel like I’m back home.”

3) Omakase at Ten. “Let the chef choose the fish, and feel like you’ve been transported out of Charlottesville to a city large enough to have a subway. Don’t sleep on the seaweed salad. I’m also a fan of the harami miso.”

4) Lobster Roll (Connecticut Style) at Public Fish & Oyster. “My oldest friend in town and I frequent this happy hour, splitting a lobster roll and a dozen oysters. She gets a Negroni and I go with a Negroni Sbagliato. The french fries that come with the lobster roll are ideal with the oysters, especially if you get a side of horseradish.”

5) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “Few salads are craveable. This one clears that hurdle easily, and it’s usually the reason I end up at Oakhart. Also, their tuna crudo is fantastic.”

#1: Roasted Vegetable Panuozzo – Lampo

Have you ever wondered what menu item you have ordered more than any other in your life? Is it something from a family restaurant during childhood? Maybe a go-to Bodo’s order. Or, is it from a fast food chain? For me, the answer is easy.

A great sandwich, like the ones on The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches, is a sum greater than its parts. The harmony of ingredients lends an additional savory element that itself elevates the experience even higher. Sometimes, that harmony compensates for the quality of a sandwich’s lesser components. Blah bread. Limp lettuce. Tasteless tomato.

But, for the greatest sandwiches, it’s not just the sum that is great. The parts are too. Every one.

Lampo does not start baking the bread for your sandwich until you order it. In Italian, “lampo” means “flash of lightning,” and the bread cooks nearly that quickly in the restaurant’s Neapolitan pizza ovens, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In just seconds, an oval of dough puffs into a warm, yeasty pocket, charred with leopard spots of umami. Upon removing the pillow of bread from the oven, the kitchen promptly slices it and stuffs it with fillings for your “panuozzo.”

Of the menu’s four options, three are meat-based. The Porchetta combines Lampo’s slow-roasted porchetta with house-made mozzarella, broccoli rabe, provolone, and house-made garlic aioli. The Polpettine stuffs house-made pork and beef meatballs between the bread with house-made mozzarella, pecorino, San Marzano tomato sauce, and basil. And, the Muffaletta combines carefully curated prosciutto, salami, and mortadella with house-made giardiniera, Castelvetrano olives, piquillo peppers, provolone, and garlic aioli.

Each has its loyalists, and each would be worthy of the top spot in The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches. But, that belongs to the fourth option, a special that grew so popular it became a menu fixture: the Roasted Vegetable. The vegetables are just three: mushroom, red onion, and long peppers. For such simple ingredients, key is sourcing, a longtime strength of the Lampo team, which has built relationships with the local farmers whose produce they prize most. To the roasted vegetables, Lampo adds aged provolone along with its house-made mozzarella and aioli, which meld in the warmth of the sandwich to lacquer the vegetables with flavor.

As if the sandwich were not excellent enough, added intrigue is the element of surprise. The varying heat of the locally sourced peppers makes ordering a roasted vegetable panuozzo like a game of roulette. Some weeks, the peppers bring almost no heat at all. Some weeks, moderate heat. And others, the peppers are so fiery that finishing a sandwich can evoke tears. No matter how the roulette game plays out, though, the sandwich is unfailingly delicious — just as satisfying no matter how many times you’ve had it.

The dish I have ordered most in my life is the Roasted Vegetable Panuozzo at Lampo. No sandwich in Charlottesville is more difficult to resist.

#1: Roasted Vegetable Panuozzo – Lampo
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo, Muffaletta Panuozzo at Lampo, Polpettine Panuozzo at Lampo

Five Finds on Friday: Jaclyn Shaffer

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Jaclyn Shaffer of Jaclyn’s Cookies, which makes stunning custom-designed cookies for birthdays, weddings, corporate events, and other celebrations, as well as offering private cookie decorating parties for both kids and adults. Shaffer also creates holiday cookies for sale to the public, with her next batches planned for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Follow along on her Instagram page. Shaffer’s picks:

1) Basan Paitan from Basan. “Hands down the most delicious bowl of ramen that I’ve eaten. I’ve spent a lot of time stalking this food truck the past couple of years, and I can’t wait to see what Basan and Mama Bird do with their new space at Umma’s.”

2) Kao Soi Chicken from Chimm. “If you haven’t tried Chimm yet, you need to visit. I love this curry so much because it’s the perfect combo of spicy broth, rich dark meat chicken and crispy fried wontons.”

3) Financier from MarieBette.  “Everything from MarieBette is fantastic, but the buttery, crunchy outside and sweet, tender inside of their financier makes it my favorite.”

4) Funghi from Lampo. “I don’t even like mushrooms that much, but this pizza is the bomb. I always try to branch out when I visit, but I find myself coming back to this pizza every time. The earthy mushrooms with cream sauce and cheese, cooked in a woodfired oven is pizza perfection.”

5) Banana Bread from Green House Coffee. “I have to shout out my local Crozet coffee shop. Every time I’m there I can’t help ordering their addictive banana bread with an iced coffee.”

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