News! 2017’s The Charlottesville 29 is coming soon.
But what is The Charlottesville 29? At its core, it’s an insider’s guide to Charlottesville’s essential restaurants, answering: if there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29? More background here.
Whether you’re visiting Charlottesville for the first time or a longtime resident deciding where to spend your hard-earned money, the guide tells you where to go and what to order when you get there. For each entry, it explains why it made the list and also includes ordering recommendations from the restaurant’s own chef/owner as well other chefs and personalities around town. Before you go to MAS, for example, learn what chef-owner Tomas Rahal suggests eating there, as well as dishes other chefs say not to miss. The latter suggestions come from archives of Five Finds on Friday, a weekly list of favorite food items in the area, picked by area chefs and personalities. The guide includes hundreds of favorite dishes from the archives.
How do restaurants make the list? Entries are chosen annually by me, the longtime restaurant writer for C-VILLE Weekly. Food is my passion, and I have eaten thousands of restaurant meals in Charlottesville over the past 25 years. Selections are based strictly on my experience, as there is no advertising on the site. It has never made a penny of revenue.
Restaurants on The Charlottesville 29 are easy to spot around town because they display a window decal with the site’s logo.
You can find the 2016 Charlottesville 29 here. The 2017 Charlottesville 29 announcement will begin on Monday February 6, and will take into account openings, closings, and changes in quality over the past year. To be eligible for this year’s list, a restaurant must have been open since January 1, 2016. Check back on February 6!
Tomorrow, June 22, public bidding ends for Lampo’s offering in The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions: Lampo’s Pizza Making Party and Sunday Supper. After public bidding closes tomorrow, only those who have placed a bid in the Lampo auction will have the opportunity to continue bidding via email until a winning bid is reached. Bidding information is available on the Lampo auction page.
As if the auction item itself were not enticing enough, co-owner Loren Mendosa recently elaborated on the spectacular meal Lampo has planned during the supper portion of the auction winner’s experience. “We’ll be consulting with the winner to build a truly special meal for them and their guests from first to last course,” says Mendosa.
The winner will have access to our extensive pantry (including summer truffles, 120 day dry aged local beef, and lots of other exclusive ingredients) and all of our purveyors. As much as we all love pizza, we truly look forward to getting back to our roots of fine dining and crafting dishes that we wouldn’t normally be able to run in the restaurant environment. So whether you want this to be a casual dining experience with some of your favorite Lampo dishes or you want to push the culinary boundaries we’ll be at your disposal. Cheers and we can’t wait to see who we’ll be cooking for soon!
In an era when many chefs seek to create the next big thing, Lampo’s chefs devote themselves to a traditional food governed by rigid rules: Neapolitan pizza. With practice, study, and expert tutoring, the Lampo kicten has mastered the pizza, which alone warrants a slot in The Charlottesville 29.
But, there’s much, much, more. Some chefs vow to keep it simple, but then cannot help themselves. When it comes to keeping it simple, Lampo’s chefs walk the walk, embracing the Campanian approach to food: use outstanding ingredients and get out of the way, allowing the product to shine. The results can often leave customers wondering how something so simple can taste so good.
Behind the bar, Andrew Cole is one of the city’s most devoted bar managers, with a passion for cocktails and beer that rivals his love of wine. Start with one of his cocktails before enjoying a wine or beer paired with your food.
The tiny, brick Belmont space means there is often a wait, especially for dinner. But, the food, drinks, and cheerful service are always worth it.
What to Order
Daily specials invariably warrant consideration, especially General Tso’s Sweetbreads, the 2015 Dish of the Year, and the Szechuan Pastrami Panuozzo, the 2016 Dish of the Year. On the regular menu, a standout is the porchetta panuozzo, which three different area chefs named the best thing they ate in all of 2015. Below are our picks, choices by Lampo’s own chefs, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where other area chefs and personalities have named a Lampo dish one of the best in town.