Posts Tagged Cuisine: Italian

One Meatball Place 

Pork meatball with BBQ sauce at One Meatball Place in Charlottesville, VAHaving jumped the gun on visiting uber-popular Moto Pho Co during its earliest days, I decided to wait a couple months before reviewing One Meatball Place, Moto Pho’s sister restaurant in both mien and conjoined location. On first sight, the space appears more cozy and contained than the pho restaurant to which One Meatball Place attaches, even sharing restroom facilities. The actual layout of the restaurant is relatively small, housing a long bar but only five tables. The combination of exposed brick, light wood accents, and large-screen TVs made for an elegantly simple yet comfortable atmosphere. The window booth in which my friends and I sat took in a… Read More

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Bella’s Restaurant, The Interview

Bella's Restaurant in Charlottesville, VACharlottesville’s newest and arguably “only real” Italian restaurant opens its doors in just a few weeks on March 23rd. I recently chatted at the construction site of what is soon to be Bella’s Restaurant with Chefi Austin Robbins, Valeria “Bella” Bisenti, and general manager Justin Heilbrun-Toft. Lucia Sallese, Bella’s mother, also joined us. She doesn’t speak English but gave us all a lesson in pronouncing a la parmigiana. “Mama” as she is affectionately known, is visiting from Rome to train Chef Austin.

ICEBREAKER

Bella, what is the concept of your eponymous restaurant?

There is nothing like Bella’s Restaurant in the current culinary scene here in Charlottesville. For us, it was very important to have something that is really traditional, really authentic. We… Read More

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Semolina 

Fig & Prosciutto at Semolina in CharlottesvilleWhy you gotta do this to me, Semolina? You and I had a special thing going when you were just another item on Basil’s menu. There were only a few pizzas to choose from but that was all we needed. When you told me you were going to move out and get your own place I was optimistic that this could be the right move for us. But you’ve changed. You’re different now. And not in a good way.

Sitting in Semolina’s vacant but charming second-story dining room on the Corner, we thumbed through an impressive menu of pizzas. Lamb with tomatoes and feta and mint, venison-blueberry… Read More

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Crozet Pizza 

crozet-pizza-01When someone says they love or hate a fine French restaurant, dissenters will shrug and disagree. Maybe they’ll say they don’t understand what the fuss is about. When conversation turns to beloved or be-hated drinking holes, the response is the same. But when it comes to pizza or hamburgers, prepare for thermonuclear war. No other cuisine is so dangerous to discuss, and if you observe such a belligerent cuisine conversation in progress, you’re likely to find Crozet pizza at ground zero.*

In the 90′s, things were relatively peaceful. Some people said Anna’s was the best around, but the rest of us thought that the quaint little place just west of town was far superior. As Crozet pizza’s… Read More

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Camino 

Camino on Market Street by Vinegar Hill TheaterI remember when Erin and I discovered Il Cane Pazzo. It was a cold autumn night, and we had decided to see a movie at Vinegar Hill. In the ticket line, Erin craned her neck to take in the warm glow of the restaurant next door. “Why have we never noticed this place?” she said. I shrugged and went over to look at the menu. Just a few items, classic Italian with a twist here and there, not cheap. As it turns out, it was also fantastically delicious. Some of the best Italian either of us had ever had. When it went away and Camino took… Read More

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Brat Pizza at Blue Mountain Brewery

Brat pizza at Blue Mountain BreweryWhen we last visited Blue Mountain Brewery, we made the mistake of ordering only beer. We thought the food, though more creative than expected, was there for no other reason than to anchor the beer drinking. How naive we were!

Though our waiter eagerly pointed out the veggie pizza as his favorite item on the menu, we were inexorably drawn again and again to the brat pizza. We both spent a good chunk of our formative years in the mid-west, so sausage rarely gets past us uneaten, especially if it has wurst in its name. Besides, pizza with apples, balsamic… Read More

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Pizza Cage Match: Christian’s vs. Vita Nova

Spicy Chicken at Christian's PizzaSpicy Chicken at Vita NovaFor years, Christian’s has been the undisputed champ of the by-the-slice division. With four stores in the Charlottesville area and a following so rabid that there is at least one vanity license plate around town that features the name of a signature slice,* Christian’s is Charlottesville’s own Italian Stallion.

In the last few years, however, a new contender entered the ring, threatening to topple the aging giant. Its name was Vita Nova – “New Life” – and with its youthful energy and ravenous appetite, not to mention a manager who had previously… Read More

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Food Find: Mona Lisa Fresh Pasta

mona lisaThis isn’t exactly a dining-out food find, but it’s so good we had to talk about it. For those of you who are self-proclaimed honorary Italians like my wife Erin, who is freakishly obsessed with meatballs and mob movies and James Gandolfini, and even for the rest of us who enjoy but don’t go nuts over Italian food, Mona Lisa on Preston is an amazing resource. They have all kinds of Italian imports and local goodies but the crown jewels in their Italian arsenal are the many varieties of fresh raw pasta that they’ll hand-cut for you in whatever quantity you want. If you think you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between fresh and… Read More

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Vivace Bar

vivace bar - 7My nominee for the most underutilized bar in Charlottesville goes to Vivace, hands down and with great enthusiasm. Yes, the Ivy Road location is a slight drive from downtown. But the reward upon arrival is great. First of all, there’s the popcorn machine where you can fill up old school popcorn baskets as much as you’d like. They… Read More

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Tavola 

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Tavola, the latest Belmont restaurant in the former Crush Wine Shop space, has been open for less than two weeks and I’ve already heard stellar reviews from three people.  After dinner last night, I’ll add my stellar review to the chorus.

The owners did a great job transforming the space: it’s cozy without feeling cramped, specials are on the chalkboard, and the kitchen is open (which foodies always love)…

The menu is… Read More

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