The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Melissa Close Hart

Preview Dinner of Junction


The most anticipated opening of 2016 must be Junction, the first Charlottesville restaurant ever to open with a chef who is a four-time James Beard semi-finalist, Melissa Close-Hart.  After a few unexpected delays, the restaurant should open this summer.

But you don’t have to wait that long. On March 15, The Local is hosting a preview dinner of the Junction, with all proceeds to benefit The Local Food Bank and The International School.  Close-Hart will compete against her husband Matthew Hart, chef of The Local, in a course-by-course showdown, paired with cocktails.  Charlottesville legend Craig Hartman will be on hand to emcee.  Given the anticipation for the restaurant, and the fact that proceeds go to charity, tickets are sure to go quickly. Just $60 each, tickets go one sale Monday, February 15.  Check back here next Monday.


Benefit Dinner to Preview New Belmont Eatery

The Local 2

Hear about the upcoming Belmont restaurant with the owner of The Local and the area’s most decorated chef, Melissa Close-Hart?  Here’s your chance for a very early preview, all while contributing to a great cause.  On December 8, The Local is hosting a dinner to raise money for the medical expenses of Jerry Colgate, a catering chef of The Local who remains in critical condition after an apparent hit-and-run.  A Taste of What’s to Come – A Benefit for Jerry Colgate, with guest chef Close-Hart, will feature some of the food and drink you can expect at the new restaurant when it opens next year.  Details below.  If you can’t make the dinner but would still like to donate, you may do so at

When: December 8, 6:00 pm for canapés, 6:30 pm for dinner.

Where: The Local, 824 Hinton Ave.

What:  A Five Course Tequila & Beer Paired Dinner featuring some of the dishes and cocktails that will be seen at the new restaurant in Belmont.  Each course will feature two small plates paired with a tequila cocktail or beer.

Cost: $60 (tax and gratuity not included), with proceeds going towards Jerry’s medical expenses.

Reservations:  Seats are limited and sure to go fast.  You can get yours here.


New Belmont Eatery Planned


Palladio’s Melissa Close-Hart, the area’s most decorated chef, has earned four James Beard semi-finalist nominations for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic, more than all other Charlottesville area chefs combined.  Imagine the delight, then, of restaurateur Adam Frazier, when Close-Hart agreed to leave Palladio to become Executive Chef of a restaurant he plans to open next year.  For fourteen years, no one else could lure Close-Hart away from the area’s premiere fine dining Italian restaurant, at Barboursville Vineyards.  Until Frazier.

Frazier is founder and owner of Belmont’s The Local, where Close-Hart’s husband Matthew has been head chef since its opening in 2008.  Frazier’s yet-to-be-named new restaurant will be right across the street from The Local, in a historic building at the corner of Monticello Road and Douglas Avenue.  “Historic,” in this case, means it has required a fair amount of renovation, which is well underway.  Still, Frazier is determined to preserve the original integrity of the building.  “The building is from the early 20th century,” said General Manager Michelle Lakrad, “and has a lot of character that [Frazier] has kept intact during the renovation process.”  For example, when they peeled away one of the walls, they found a brick wall decorated with a vintage Pepsi sign that is sure to become a signature of the new restaurant’s decor.


While Close-Hart was hesitant to leave her home of fourteen years, she is excited about the new venture. “Being given the opportunity to help open a new restaurant from the ground up was very intriguing to me,” said Close-Hart. “I look forward to working with Adam and Michelle.”

So: great chef, great location, and great restaurateur.  Beyond that, details are still in the works.  Even the type of food is not yet set it stone, but Close-Hart says it will be a sharp break from the Italian cuisine she has cooked for much of her career. With the opening still months away, there is still plenty of time to sort it all out.  The good news is that you can follow along as details emerge.  By liking the restaurant’s Facebook page, New Belmont Eatery, you can watch the new venture unfold.

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