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welcome winter | spring 2009 taste




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Winter/Spring 2009 Web Contents 6

Exclusive web features, including videos, photo galleries and full listings. Everything you can’t get in print:

Comment 8

A Love Letter to the Seven Cities. The editors’ open letter to you, our readers—an introduction and call to arms.

Album 12

Food photography from local artists. This quarter, images from Pfac curator Michael Preble, and extras from our contributing photographers off the cutting room floor.

Site Specific 16

Make it Yours. The rise of free, democratic media: How an online daily magazine and seven glossy quarterlies can connect our regional community.

Of Note 18

Happenings The failing economy has put the restaurant industry in dire straits. Monroe Duncan reports the major shakeups and losses. The Cookie Rx Dr. Lucy Gibney offers up a sweet treat with no gluten and even less guilt.


Feature 24

Let them eat steak! Three restaurant weeks offer a feast of fortune—amazing prix fixe meals at fractional cost. (Time to break those resolutions!) Profiles of local chefs and restaurateurs; Phillip Craig Thomason of Vintage Kitchen, Alvin Williams of Cobalt Grille and David Hausmann of The Boot.

Great Plates 35

A sampler of selected dishes from top participating restaurants in each food week. Enjoy!

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What’s Online

TasteMakers EDITORS | PUBLISHERS Allison Hurwitz | Hannah Serrano

WORDS Leona Baker | Ty Bliss | Monroe Duncan Gregory Epps | Michelle M. Falck Brendan Kennedy | Marisa A. Marsey

Watch video of Chef Phillip Craig Thomason at his restaurant Vintage Kitchen, as he dishes with Allison Hurwitz about the most annoying customer he’s ever had.

PHOTO DCPG Photography + Design: Ciesther dela Cruz, Lester dela Cruz, Mendell dela Cruz | E-yage | Michael Preble | Gabe Romero | Rogelio Serrano DESIGN Ashley Grove | Robert Simmons Ernie Smith 24SEVENCITIES BLOG Ty Bliss | George Booker | Gregory Epps Michelle M. Falck | Brendan Kennedy Leigh Rastivo | Ernie Smith | Jerome Spencer | Jen Stringer | Alfredo Torres

ADVERTISING 757.714.5854 | 757.478.1717 WEB DEVELOPMENT Marathon Consulting Oh you know Lauren Izzo is gonna regulate when she catches boyfriend Alfredo Torres trying to sneak a bite. Catch outtakes from our photo shoot with the couple and Izzo’s son Christian. You think the smack on the knuckles is bad—wait ‘til you see the hijinks that ensued. Torres is the host of Locals Lounge on 100.5 Max FM. Read his blog at, where you can also download Izzo’s recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs.

A perfect spring meal—light, colorful salad, fluffy rice and...Beer Can Chicken? Yeah. Beer Can Chicken. Find the recipe for Leigh Rastivo’s Strawberry-Spinach Salad online. And look for her blog about family, writing and life in general at Be amongst the first 500 registered users on the site and automatically enter to win a delicious $500 prize, including gift certificates to some of the amazing restaurants featured on these pages. 6

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VIDEO Inklined Studios | Kory Smith, director Tremayne Johnson, producer

SPECIAL THANKS Ciesther, Mendell, and Lester dela Cruz:

DCPG | Vernal Coleman | JoAnna Lynne Jarret Beeler | the Hurwitz family | the Serrano family | Scott Clevenger | Merrit Press | Kurt Lauderback | Robyn Thomas | John Porter and Lucas Doan: Vista Builders | Curtis Bowens | Patty Diehl | Mike Joynes

Taste and each of the SevenCities magazines is published quarterly by Paper Pixel. All rights reserved. Distribution is throughout the region of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Send email to or visit for information about advertising. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. © 2009


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great coffee.


free wi-fi.

independent spirits.

who are we? find out about us and what we’re doing in our online video

A Love Letter to


ello world!

Fair G rounds Our home away from home.


Elliot’s Fair Grounds Coffee 806 Baldwin Ave | Norfolk | 640.2899 | spring2009 winter winter| spring 2009

We’ve finally arrived. And we want to get to know you. You are our magazine. You are the stories, you are the audience, you are the reason it exists, and you are the ones who make it happen. The SevenCities publications include a web magazine and a seven-title print series that begins with Taste. Our online daily,, carries the watchword “Here. Now.” We aim to be a fresh and constant presence in the community. Constantly updating with blogs, feeds and original stories, we are always on and always tuned in to local life. From everything on the web, we derive the best material relating to food, nightlife, style, music, home and living, and the arts, to fill our print editions. Those respective titles are Taste, Haunt, Shop, Sound, Inhabit, Create and MoreSevenCities, which has a changing theme and comes out only twice a year. The others, however, are quarterlies. But because a new one is released every two weeks during the quarter, there’s something fresh for you more often. The content that we pull from the website can be anything—anything that we find meriting space in the print quarterly. So long as it’s relevant, we draw upon your comments and emails as much as our own bloggers’ posts and our writers’ features.

IT’s such a dichotomy—MAKING A forward-thinking WEBSITE AND still holding on to this beautiful tradition of print, SAYS HANNAH.

tempting treats.

strong espresso. independent spirits.

aL atte Our second office

then tell us about yourself and your local life at

the Seven Cities In particular, we hope to fill this comment space with your thoughts and feedback. Tell us what you want to see, what’s missing, what we’re doing wrong, and what we’re doing right. Your opinions and experiences are like research for our stories. When we talk about a new restaurant or an upcoming concert or an important referendum, we want to quote you. For the local community and visitors to the area, your advice is gold. If Anne from Suffolk says River Stone Chophouse’s filet mignon is maddeningly delicious, we’ll likely take her word for it. Many of the restaurants we’ve featured here and likely will in the future are admittedly focused in Virginia Beach, Ghent, and downtown Norfolk. Of course mainly this is due to our feature story, which covers all three of their restaurant weeks. But it is also because those places are our own communities, where we live and work. (42SevenGranby is both the name and location of our soon-to-be headquarters.) We want to know what’s going on where you are. The beautiful thing about the internet is that it connects people without building roads. So keep us posted. And on an even deeper lever, we want to know and tell your story. Submit your photographs, give us your reviews and your top picks, send in recipes...If it makes it to print, we will pay you in kind.

aLatte Cafe

So who’s behind all this?

We—Hannah Serrano and Allison Hurwitz—are local writers and former editors of Port Folio Weekly. We established Paper Pixel in the fall of 2008 to publish SevenCities. We love it here where we live. We love this area. Certainly, we want to bring to it something more,

aLatte Cafe 321 Granby St | Norfolk 625.2326 winter winter| |spring spring2009 2009

taste 79

Comment continued from page 9 something we feel it’s missing—but at the same time we know you can’t very well improve a place without first recognizing its inherent splendor. Both of us admit we’ve tried to leave. Hannah, after growing up in suburban Virginia Beach and yearning for a more worldly experience of life, promised herself when she left that she wouldn’t ever come back here to live. Allison, upon leaving PFW, decided also to move on from her home in Norfolk to make a new one Frederick, Maryland . But as true native are wont to say around here, ‘They always come back.’ And we both did. We each realized that there was so much we’d built and still want to build here. Though our creative aesthetics are perfectly in sync, our personal sensibilities couldn’t be more dissimilar—like a scoop of ice


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cream and a cup of black coffee. “We want to make people smile,” says Hannah, and completing her thought Allison adds, “and we want to make them think.” Nevertheless, we have have a singular goal at the core of our partnership--the dream of making something exciting for where we live. In the course of putting together this premiere issue, we’ve gotten to meet amazing people who’ve inspired us in many ways. From Chef Phillip Craig Thomason’s return to the area after traveling the world and gaining renown to Paul Chhabra’s commitment to bringing heart-warming, exotic food These people have inspired us to believe that there not only can be more in this area, but that with heart and hope and ingenuity (and some luck) we can be

There are certain issues, certain stories that people just don’t pay enough attention to. to give them a voice, I think is amazing, says allison. the ones to help make that change. We’re not the Pilot, we don’t pretend to be a place where news breaks. We’re not Link or Port Folio or 9Volt, which all had their place in “alternative news media.” SevenCities is something else entirely—a true local independent alternative. We’re a small endeavor with a big vision. And we want to grow with this region. Our magazine is about everything that makes this home of ours great—and you are what makes it great. So let’s continue to get to know each other... With a new year and a new magazine is a new opportunity to embrace the world around you and the one just outside your door.

Hannah Serrano | Allison Hurwitz Editors | Publishers Please send your letters via email to Contact us at and Hear more from Hannah and Allison at Watch the video. Tell us what you think.

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Michael preble, teoluets program director & curator, pfac; Local photographer 12

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ABOVE | GRANBY PIZZA MID-TOSS | E-YAGE LEFT | BIG EASY | DCPG Got a great eye? Contribute your photography to, and you could see your images in Album and on the pages of Taste.

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Site -Specific Haunt 01.30.09

Shop 02.13.09

Sound 02.27.09

Inhabit 03.13.09

Create 03.27.09

Life Lived Locally 16

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for an evolving world

A major component of the SevenCities brand is, the alternative daily magazine that’s about everything local. Turning the traditional publishing methodology of ‘print-first, web-later’ on its head, the SevenCities brand uniquely ‘breaks’ its content online. In simpler terms, everything you read, see, and experience in our print pubs, including Taste, is first published at 24SevenCities. One-third original content, one-third aggregated content, and one-third user-generated content, the site is your all-in-one resource to life and iving in Hampton Roads. And becuase it’s constantly updated, you’ll find something new every time you click. 24SevenCities is a dynamic forum that highly encourages readers to share their thoughts, ideas, and creativity. As a new magazine, we’re still building our content and databases. We hope you’ll be a part of the process and we invite you to share in this exciting breakthrough of hyper-local alternative media. Below is a sound-bite from editor|publisher Allison Hurwitz—extracted from intimate film conversation with fellow editor|publisher Hannah Serrano. View them in full at and be sure to tell us what you think.

LOG ON to your site. Easily register your free account, then make posts, share events, and customize youre site—so that your 24SevenCities homepage displays content you want. (Trust us; this screen’s much more fun when it’s actually on a computer.)


MAKE IT YOURS winter | spring 2009 taste 17

Of Note

Restaurants in the Revolving Door the local scene’s shake-ups and losses Words Monroe Duncan Photos Rogelio Serrano


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The loss of comfort feels even more bitter seeing it now as desolate as an edward hopper painting


n the current downward-spiraling economy, a number of restaurants are under pressure to close up shop, and some have already succumbed. The National Restaurant Association is predicting a gloomy year of unequaled closures, encouraging operators to tighten their belts and bring value to their menus with appropriate price points and simpler food. Seems the public is amenable to smaller portions for smaller prices. But it is not only the independent restaurants suffering—national chains are making massive changes in branding, and closing stores that are not holding their own. Everywhere restaurant employees are painfully seeking jobs wherever they can find them. One restaurateur in Norfolk confirms this effect, saying, “I could put an ad on craigslist tonight, and in five minutes I will get five calls from overqualified people.” Where is that infernal light at the end of the tunnel? According to some local restaurateurs’ hopeful, but tempered hunches, things will change in the second quarter of ’09. But others, sadly, never made it to the new year. Bobbywood—had it been located in New York, Chicago or San Francisco—may have had a better chance of survival. However, Bobby Huber’s avant-garde culinary offerings were too costly for most wallets (his included), and even with an infusion of cash, he has closed his doors. The restaurant’s location, amid the helter-skelter construction of Norfolk’s light rail and Wachovia’s bank tower, as well as lousy parking and the crippling recession have all played a part in forcing Chef Bobby Huber temporarily out of the arena.

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Of Note fish dish sterling’s as snapper’s...will it fly? slow fade chef bobby huber’s sign may tarnish, but his mark is everlasting

Huber is not alone in this devastation, as other chefs and owners attempt to reinvent themselves and restructure their costs. Sterling’s on Granby Street is changing their identity with an intense, fresh Virginia seafood menu and a new handle—Snapper’s. Comfort on High Street in Portsmouth has closed its operation. The menu pricing and offerings were not unreasonable, but lowering them and the portion sizes might have made the restaurant more appealing to those Portsmouth doyens of down-home cuisine. And these prospective diners, already aficionados of Southern style, were not buying. Executive Chef Jerry Weihbrecht of Zoe’s in Virginia Beach is one of the finest chefs in the area. But even performing at James Beard’s house in Greenwich Village last October couldn’t save him from faltering. Presently seeking investors, Weihbrecht is determined to reopen his bistro and continue his culinary excellence for Virginia Beach locals and summer’s touring folks. His menu offerings are avant-garde preparations, and hopefully he can conjure an audience diverse enough to fill his tiny restaurant once more. Vince Ranhorn and partner Chef Todd Leutner have managed to reinvent themselves in the form of Long Boards Lounge and Café in Old Towne Portsmouth, an affordable and quite tasty neighborhood café. The duo’s plan: simpler fare with a spin on favorite

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American flavors. Ranhorn and Leutner have felt the financial burden of making it in this economy, but their creativity is best experienced in comparison with their other eateries. Price points have dramatically changed at their Trilogy Bistro in Norfolk and Fusion 440 in Portsmouth. The food is simpler, and the issue of finding qualified staff is temporarily resolved. (To their chagrin, there aren’t enough jobs to fill the demand.) The Matthews family has closed Hampton Roads’ “Only Historic Landmark Restaurant,” The Circle in Portsmouth. The Circle opened in 1947, and I frequented the restaurant during my high school years in the mid to late-’50s after Friday night football games. My favorite menu sampling in those bygone days was their famous “Hot Fudge Cake!” Then along came the famous buffet with prime rib, fried chicken, green beans with ham hocks, and numerous truly comforting food items so very reasonably priced. The Circle closed its doors December 31, 2008. Chef Monroe Duncan’s 30-year career in the food industry has included ownership of famed Norfolk restaurants Suddenly Last Summer and Piranha, among others. He has been a Norfolk food writer for over 20 years.

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Of Note

Milk + Cookies Dr. Lucy’s cookies are available in Chocolate chip, sugar, cinnamon thin, and oatmeal.


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The Cookie Rx

Words Allison Hurwitz Photos E-Yage

Dr. Lucy’s cookies make life tastier


f you’ve ever been out to eat with an “I-can’t-eat-that” person, you understand how difficult it can be. But if you’ve ever been an “I-can’t-eatthat” person, you really understand just how difficult, annoying, and all too often unappetizing it can be. Special diets-- be they by necessity (severe food allergies, Celiac Disease) or by choice (strict vegan, kosher), tend to come with one common sideeffect: limitations, especially in the indulgent, decadent treats category. Yes, there are alternative options. But these options are not always the most tasty, nor do they always resemble the “real” foods they’re substituting. Enter Dr. Lucy’s cookies, a delightful peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, egg-, wheat-, and gluten-free treat that just so happens to be made right here in the Seven Cities. Dr. Lucy’s cookies are acceptable for Celiac disease patients, vegans, those following kosher, low-fat and low-cholesterol diets, and pretty much anyone with taste buds. And these crisp little cookies (they’re on the small side; four constitute one serving) are the perfect size for guilt-free snacking. Boxes of 16 cookies or smaller cellophane pouches of four are available in Sugar, Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Thin, and Oatmeal varieties. Chocolate Chip, according to Lucy herself, are the best-selling flavor; although you really can’t go wrong with any selection. All are light and airy, sweet—but not cloyingly so, and very, very crunchy. The Oatmeal is the most-dense and vaguely resembles a grown-up version of those Barnum & Bailey’s animal crackers I devoured by the redcircus-train-boxful as a child. The Chocolate Chips are straightforward— a tad like Chips-a-Hoy, minus the flavor of Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil and Caramel Color. The Sugars and Cinnamon Thins are virtually identical confections, save for a dusting of the obvious spice on the latter. Dr. Lucy’s gluten free flour blend is the staple ingredient—milled from six whole foods ranging garbanzo to tapioca. [For the uninitiated: glutenfree baking can be a Royal Pain; wheat-gluten—a protein—is sort of the glue that holds together almost all baked goodies] Only a mere few years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney and her husband, Dr. Paul Gibney, were practicing Emergency Room doctors. Today, they bake cookies. The Gibneys’ son, now five years-old, was born with severe food allergies—an ailment that can create a great deal of fear and anxiety for parents and caretakers. As ER doctors, the Gibneys certainly didn’t have much flexibility in case of their own family emergency. But it was more than an issue of scheduling that led the couple to ultimately trade their scrubs for aprons. Parents in their position must be available at a moment’s notice, she said. And until a few years ago, the market—especially the mainstream grocer segment—was not exactly flooded with gluten-free foods or other acceptable products for people with certain dietary restrictions. Even worse, many labels often neglect to mention that while the products’ ingredients may be “safe,” they’re sometimes packaged or processed in joint facilities that also manufacture foods containing potentially harmful allergens. Cross-contamination, even from microscopic particles lingering on shared equipment, is a dangerous reality. When dealing with a severe food allergy, vigilance is key. When their son was a younger child, the main priority was to staunchly monitor his intake. But as he grew and interacted with other children, the Gibneys’ concern vacillated from his physical to emotional wellbeing. “We didn’t want him to feel left out.” When her son entered pre-school, Lucy took a proactive approach to monitoring his classroom diet. Rather than trouble teachers and fellow parents with the responsibility of regulating shared snacks, she ap-

proached them with a simple solution: “I asked that other parents send in a fruit and I would provide the rest of the snack, like cookies or crackers.” By this time, Lucy wasn’t just whipping up batches of allergen-free treats in her home kitchen—she was producing them by the boxful in her namesake factory near Norfolk’s Tidewater Drive. The couple, of course, was used to scouring the grocery aisles in search of wheat-free, peanut-free snacks and staples. But even at health food stores, the yummy treats—great-tasting cookies, cakes and even crackers were nearimpossible to come by. Lucy trial-and-errrored her way to a victory. “I just kept trying different recipes, substituting this and that. I looked in gluten-free cookbooks and vegan cookbooks and sort of pieced them together.” These methods, applied to her mother’s cookie recipe, ultimately resulted in a winner Through their own struggles in dealing with a dangerous allergy (not to mention the often unappetizing food solutions on the market), however, they deeply understood how unfortunate and debilitating a life with severe food allergies could be. They did their research and, unsurprisingly, learned that yes, there was a huge void in the market for cookies like hers, which are vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, low-cholestoral, peanut-free, and frankly, delicious.

Lucy recalls the other doctor (husband Paul) teasing her that she should go into the cookie business. When they began to research the actual logistics of manufacturing, it was decided their only option would be to build their own factory. “Many companies out-source their production to facilities that can handle the volume,” she explained. “But we couldn’t trust that there were any who could meet our standards.” As a result, the couple purchased a space on Central Park Business Drive in Norfolk, where they completely designed and built-out a baking factory. (None of their ‘blacklisted’ ingredients are allowed even inside the office, ensuring there are no mix-ups or accidents.) In 2006, both Gibneys left the ER and immersed themselves in the world of allergen-free treats, with Lucy at the manufacturing helm and Paul in charge of distribution. Two years later and Dr. Lucy’s Cookies—as they’re trademarked— are distributed nationally. Here in the Seven Cities, you can (and should!) pick up a box at numerous natural-foods stores; they’ve also started appearing in regional Farm Fresh markets. While their career change may have been rather unusual, there’s really not much disparity to Dr. Lucy. After all, she’s still helping people to live the best, healthiest, most enjoyable lives possible. Only now, it’s just a little sweeter.

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Seven-day 24

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vintage kitchen | DCPg

If only restaurant week came every week... winter | spring 2009 taste 25



or incurable romantics, Valentine’s Day is like any other. We wonder what all the fuss is about. Why everyone else is getting all starry-eyed, talking in hearts and flowers and, ultimately, acting the way we do every day of the year. We shake our heads smugly. And then we jump into February 14 with full abandon, indulging, too. Why miss out on any fun? Restaurant Week is that way for foodies. When you’re passionate about restaurants, eager to try new menu items or chat up a chef for the latest industry trends, you spend as much time as you can in them. You dine out on promising dates, you dine out with boisterous groups of friends, you dine out solo, drinking in the theater of the restaurant without distraction. Others find you odd or cast patronizing glances at your queer “hobby,” befuddled by why your Paris pix show only a smidgen of your face but a full frontal of your boudin de homard. Then, suddenly, it’s January and you’re getting your hair cut and all the other heads around you in various stages of shampoo or highlight—wrapped in foil like so many casseroles en route to a church supper—gab about the beef bourguignon at Eat and


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Words Marisa A. Marsey Photos DCPG

the Kentucky bourbon pork tenderloin at Hell’s Kitchen. Go figure. You stop for a coffee and overhear folks strategizing their week’s meals with Pattonian precision: “If we lunch at Eurasia on Tuesday, then we can have dinner at 219 and still make it in time for the late movie on Wednesday.” For such is the nature of Restaurant Week—attractively priced three-course prix fixe meals originating in big cities in the 1990s to jumpstart business during a traditionally sluggish time that caught on locally in 2006—that it turns the most dyspeptic among us into raving gastronomes. And that’s a good thing. If you’re a frequent diner, it can coax you somewhere you haven’t been before. Say you’re perpetually sucking down oysters at A.W. Shucks (and who could blame you?). Maybe it’s time to sink your teeth into Byrd & Baldwin’s aged-on-site Harris Ranch beef. If you have a regular table at Aldo’s (lucky you!), why not see what all the buzz is about at Mannino’s. Or perhaps you’re always chasing eggs with a Bloody Mary at Doc Taylor’s. Well, if that’s the case, carry on. That’s the only Restaurant Week restaurant serving breakfast.

love at first sight shula’s (opposite), (Clockwise from top left) pasha mezze, big easy, catch 31 and chef rodney at terrapin serve up some bargain meals to make you swoon

Now, if you’re an amateur, and need a birthday/anniversary excuse to eat out, this is the time to see that life’s too short to limit yourself. Maybe you thought upscale eateries like Fire & Vine were too expensive and intimidating. They’re not. You’d be surprised how many of F&V’s wood-fired entrees are under $20 regularly and how the accommodating staff is warm and welcoming. In other words, it’s a time for everyone. Of course, for restaurateurs and staff (bless them—we have tremendous talent both front and back-of-the-house around here), the crush must feel like Valentine’s on a Saturday night followed by Mother’s Day with Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve thrown in. Twice. Taste spoke with three notable chefs and restauranteurs to prime your palate. We here embrace Restaurant Week; it’s good for business. Figures from the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association, for example, show that in 2006, participants saw a 38.3 percent increase in gross receipts compared to the same week in the prior year. So sharpen those tines, polish those spoons. Norfolk, Ghent and

Virginia Beach will hold restaurant weeks from Jan 18-25. (In Norfolk, menus are set for $20 or $30; in Virginia Beach they’re $10.09 for lunch and $20.09 or $25.09 for dinner. Visit, and vabeachrestaurants. net for details.) Don’t fret when they’re through. Pick right up without missing an eat—Williamsburg is having Restaurant Week Jan 25-Feb 1. Portsmouth and Suffolk rolled ones out last year in spring, and Norfolk runs a second in summer. And while we could greedily wish for an entire year of restaurant weeks, with so many restaurants giving ongoing sweet deals as the economy sours, we’re practically there. Big Easy offers complimentary appetizers on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 pm to midnight (even if you order off the late-night menu, prices like $4.95 for chicken jambalaya are sure easy to swallow) and the Pagoda does Sunday brunch with every item $10, to name just a couple. Fairly priced tasting menus have long been in existence from Terrapin at the Beach to Le Yaca in Williamsburg. So remember to keep Restaurant Week, like Valentine’s, in your heart (and stomach) every day of the year.

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Chef Phillip Craig Thomason


Not everyone likes licorice, but the people that like licorice really like licorice. | winter spring 2009

Phillip craig thomAson | Chef-owner | vintage kitchen


A chef’s tour Words Allison Hurwitz Photos DCPG

id you study culinary arts at UVA? No, at Virginia it was French literature. I spent my third year undergraduate in Paris at the Sorbonne and came back with a degree. Then I thought I wanted to go to film school, so I spent some time traveling around the states looking at schools. I went on a trip to Colorado—I thought I’d spend two weeks; it turned into two years. I ended up under a great chef who had come from the Bel Air in Beverly Hills—an incredible person to work under—then decided to go back to Paris to study cooking. I studied at Le Cordon Bleu and graduated first in my class. Then it was Palm Beach, and then Seattle. I joined Jeremiah Tower’s group in San Francisco—we had restaurants in Singapore, Seattle, Manila. I moved to L.A. after that. Then I became a food designer for a hotel group in New York. At one point I had apartments in Seattle and Salzburg, Austria. I’ve been very fortunate to travel a lot. So how did you first happen upon the culinary arts? You know, for the sake of romance, really. I had a girlfriend when I was in high school—everybody had a crush on her. She was a couple years older than I was. So to get her attention, I sent her one hundred carnations, and it worked. On our very first date I ended up cooking for her. And I didn’t know too much about cooking at the time—I remember asking my mother how to cook a green bean—but I did an elaborate menu; a five-course dinner. I did the research, the recipes, the whole thing. And it went well—we dated for a while. So I thought, ‘There must be something to this cooking thing.’ After a while I decided I didn’t want to go to film school. I didn’t love Los Angeles, and Aspen was a fun place to be. So really two weeks of skiing turned into two years. The more you do something, the more proficient you become, and the more you want to do it; so I kind of just ended up in the industry. bringing it home Chef thomason started cooking for love, and he continues for the same reason

You’re from Portsmouth. How many years have you been back? I came back in ’03 maybe. Is that when you opened Vintage Kitchen? No, I was a consultant for Todd Jurich’s restaurant. And then I took over this space in the fall of ’04. We just started our fifth year. We’ve gotten a great deal of national press, as well. Conde Nast chose us for their Hot List; they chose 80 restaurants around the world and ours was one of them. This area is marketed as ‘America’s First Region,’ but it doesn’t always act like a region. In ways the Seven Cities very much function as separate cities. We have such a powerhouse—an amazing Southern area, as big as any metropolitan area in the country practically. [But] a problem with the area is everything’s so spread out, you don’t know where to go for anything. That’s why MacArthur was such a great boon for downtown, because at least it collected. What is it that you love about this area? We’re central on the East Coast, and that’s fantastic for travel. I travel a great deal, about three or four big trips a year. We’re close to DC; we’re a 45-minute flight to New York, so I go there once or twice a month. And the area itself is pretty familial. It’s relatively safe compared to other major markets. It’s diverse. You’ve got a beach, you’ve got mountains close by, you’ve got countryside, you’ve got something that’s vaguely urban starting to happen. And for me, having lived so many places and seeing what’s out there, what’s on the horizon, and what is coming—it’s nice to be someone who can try to keep pushing forward with a whole group of people, like you all. How do you stay inspired?I travel and try to stay inspired personally. We’ve got a great clientele, and the ones that get it, get it. You know, it was explained one time that liking the Grateful Dead is like liking licorice. Now, not everyone likes licorice, but the people that like licorice really like licorice. So the same kind of crowd, the people who get what we are trying to do for the community, get it. Look how far the Farm Market’s come. You know, Bev [Sell] and Kathy [Reese] have been able to move Five Points to this much cooler, grander location, and that’s where the dialogue starts. It gets people thinking about where their food comes from. Where do you like to eat in the area? The restaurant pool here is a little slim, but you try to be as supportive as you can. Some of my favorite restaurants have closed over the last six months. You know, when you look at the independents closing in this market and the chains thriving, you just think that maybe people’s focus is just a bit off. They should be supporting the little guys. What sets Vintage Kitchen apart specifically? I think the big thing is our focus on community... I came back to be a larger part of the community in that sense. And it wasn’t an option for me to do any other restaurant besides one that focused on local artisans and farmers. [Some locals] don’t really care that much about it, which is funny because our roots in this area are so agrarian, so steeped in farming. I came back to the area because I wanted to put that out there to get people thinking about where their food comes from again.

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Alvin Williams | Chef-owner | Cobalt Grille

It was a fried egg Words Marisa A. Marsey Photos DCPG

o you remember the first thing you ever cooked? I do. It was a fried egg. I was hungry and there were eggs in the fridge and I had seen people do them. This is when I lived in England, I was just five or six. I burned it. Did that pique your culinary curiosity? Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. It burned the edges of the white, yet the center was still raw. I couldn’t understand why and I was really curious, so I started cooking different things. My folks came from Jamaica to Leeds in the 1960s before I was born, and we were real poor. My mom worked nights and my dad worked days, so I would cook for myself and my friends. When did you realize that cooking was your calling? In middle school. We used to have a home economics class and we’d make pizzas and all kinds of different things, and I was really good at it. I thought—hmm—let me kind of roll with this. I went to culinary school and then to London to the best: The Mayfair Hotel, Grosvenor House, Savoy Group. You really learn under these crazy maniac European chefs. Why did you come to Virginia Beach? My sister was here, and I’d heard that in America, if you work hard, it pays off. What happened next? I ended up at Le Chambord where I met Frank Spapen. He said, ‘I don’t know you from Adam, and you say you’re this and you worked here and you worked there, but I don’t believe you. Why should I pay you this amount of money?’ So I said, ‘I will work for you for free for two weeks. If you like me, I’ll stay and then you’ll pay this amount of money. If not, we’ll say good-bye.’ I was there for seven years. How has your food evolved since opening Cobalt Grille? What we call it now is American Contemporary. We focus on what’s fresh, what’s best, what’s local. People swear by our duck and lamb. When I opened, I was very European, small portions. My customers are very loyal, very local; they know value and they told me straight away, ‘You’re not going to survive if you do this.’ So I adapted to more substantial portion sizes, but I still make the food pretty. We change

seasonally. We always have NY strip, salmon, tuna, but we’ll change the vegetable, the starch, the sauce. For example… In winter we do a lot of risotto, mashed potatoes. The sauce might be a béarnaise or bordelaise. In summer, we’ll do a squash or a Northern white bean salad and we’ll go to a roasted tomato vinaigrette. In winter I do beef Wellington. I don’t think anyone else around here does that. What’s your favorite menu item? Or is that like picking your favorite child? Well, chicken penne pasta—it’s my firstborn, but I’ve made it so many times, it’s like waking up and brushing my teeth. I really like the coq au vin; it’s slow-cooked. For a while, you were involved with other projects… For a period of two years, I was part of Bardo and I was bouncing between the restaurants. That was real hard, trying to give everything to everybody, and it just wasn’t working. Now I’m here, my customers see me in the open kitchen, they come up and wave, and there is definitely something to be said for an owner-chef being in his restaurant. Where do you get inspiration to keep things fresh? I travel to New York, D.C., Dubai. I get back to England. And I always visit as many restaurants as I can. My most recent favorites are Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Napa and Marcus Samuelsson’s C-House in Chicago. What do you focus on besides food when you’re there? We went to Gary Danko in San Francisco and the service was impeccable. Here we’re a little more relaxed, but I still think we have great service. And when I travel, I do tend to take photographs in restrooms. Really? You can tell a lot about a restaurant by them. We were the first pretty restroom in Virginia Beach, I think. Granite, tile. How do you keep in shape around all this wonderful food? When I go out west, I snowboard. In the summer, religiously I do a 10-mile bike ride every morning down Shore Drive and on the boardwalk with my iPod. What’s on your iPod? The book I’m listening to right now is Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and I find that pretty inspiring, pretty interesting. Music, oh boy, I listen to reggae, R&B, a little bit of classical, all kinds of things. The Beatles, of course.

he’s come a long way, baby From england to jamaica to the us, and from a fried egg to a coq a vin, Williams continues to grow and adapt. 30

winter | spring 2009

Chef Alvin Williams

So I said, ‘I will work for you for free for two weeks. If you like me, I’ll stay and then you’ll pay this amount of money. If not, we’ll say good-bye.’ I was there for seven years. winter | spring 2009 taste 31



the new originals escribe the transition from Relative Theory to The Boot. We were trying to have a better environment for live music. And also we wanted to expand our associations with local vendors, which had started with the little cafe we had at the record store. When you were creating the menu (with former chef Brendan Vesey), what inspired you to explore slow food and local ingredients? We wanted to make things seem antiquated but not kitschy. We weren’t reinventing anything. Almost everything we do, we take from some sort of traditional inspiration—things that have been done for a hundred years or more. Like what? Like a coffee table that was a sidecar, or a pasta dish that’s been around in old sea towns for centuries. And that’s what we feel that Norfolk is. You’re very involved in Ghent. How important to you is your

david hausmann & josh wright | owners | the boot Words Hannah Serrano Photos DCPG

role in the community? Very. It’s a much more efficient way of taking care of yourself—by taking care of your neighbor. Being involved in local events, community support and action, you can just better develop that sustainability. Do you have any big goals for the next few years? I would really like to get Local Food Tidewater off the ground. That would be a local food network to help other restaurants use the products of local agriculture in a much more efficient manner so that it’s not as troubling. It can be very difficult to be in a restaurant, especially an independent restaurant, and deal with 20 different food vendors. It’s very time-consuming and you don’t get to spend a lot of time focusing on the food. And these would be products that are made within a hundred miles rather than from California, or imported. So what do you like to prepare for yourself when you’re not here at The Boot? Um... well... that doesn’t ever happen.

classic and cutting-edge dishes like traditional lasagna get a new spin with local, seasonal ingredients. 32

winter | spring 2009

Great plates Ghent Pasha mezze

the boot Penne with Ratatouille of zucchini | eggplant | peppers | fresh tomato and herbs

Turkish Sampler | muhammarah, a red pepper and walnut paste | red lentil pate | homemade hummus | fried zucchini cheese puffs | sirkonto zucchini


green onion


Imperio inca

SAUTEED DIVER SCALLOPS | lobster cheesecake | sweet pea and corn puree

Rajput Special | tandoori chicken | lamb or chicken curry | vegetable korma | seekh kebab | basmati rice | naan bread

INCA CEVICHE | two ceviches combination | one lime marinated fish ceviche with cilantro | one fish ceviche with red pepper (rocoto) sauce

winter | spring 2009 taste 33

Great plates Norfolk bodega


Shellfish paella | shrimps | chorizo | chicken | mussels | calamari | saffon infused arborio rice

Grayson And Emma’s Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup with cinnamon croutons

456 FISH 456 Fried Calamari | tender fried rings dusted with parmesan | lemon zest | crushed red pepper | served with plum tomato sauce | basil aioli


big easy


FILET MIGNON | asparagus | smashed potatoes

NEW ORLEANS BARBECUE SHRIMP & GRITS | with smoked andouilee sausage | caramelized onions | fried okra

Porterhouse | all natural harris ranch beef | aged on site for a minimum of 21 days for flavor and tenderness


winter | spring 2009


Great plates Virginia Beach TERRAPIN Pressed Crispy Free-Range Half Hen with mac & cheese | ceasonal vegetables | herbed chicken demi-glace



Woodfired Salmon over white wine & garlic baby spinach | minted canteloupe salsa | shiraz syrup | cherry puree

COQ AU VIN | traditional slow roasted chicken in a red wine sauce | mashed potatoes | green beans almondine

LYNNHAVEN FISH HOUSE MAHI-MAH’S Horseradish Crusted Salmon with butternut squash puree | cranberry relish

EURASIA Panko Crusted Big Eye Tuna | ginger-lime aioli | thai vegetable saute | pacific farms wasabi mashed potatoes | sprouts

CHESAPEAKE BAY CHICKEN | tender boneless & skinless grilled chicken breast with sauteed shrimp | steamed broccoli and hollandaise sauce


winter | spring 2009 taste 35

Great plates Catch 31 | Salacia soul of the south

center cut pork loin chop |rubbed with brown sugar | cracked pepper | mustard seed | pan seared | served with brilliant beet oil | pan jus | braised collard greens

jedi salad

Sea Spray Fresh Oyster Stew

turban of fresh tilapia with beet couscous | fire roast yellow pepper | sunflower seeds | rocket and feta cheese

prepared ala minute with james river select oysters

Danish Bread Pudding

salad pave’

served with chocolate paint | classical crème anglaise



winter | spring 2009

wood fire grilled and cedar planked atlantic salmon

heirloom tomato | shaved bermuda onion | fresh mozzarella topped with micro-greens | finished with fresh parsley fused cold press olive oil | a gastrique of balsamic vinegar

finished in wood burning oven | presented with a cool cucumber-wakame salad | crisp flying fish roe


Seconds winter | spring 2009


Chat Cook Dine Dish Directory Editors Contributors Top 7

39 40 46 56 58 62 65 68

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Don’t let the

name fool you.

Gringo’s makes tacos

authenticos. Gringo’s Taqueria Old-Style Mexican 612 Norfolk Ave. Suite 109 Virginia Beach 757.961.2987


winter | spring 2009

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near and far A well-traveled connoisseur, mullins now walks just across the street to his favorite eatery, Empire


patrick mullins associate artistic director of virginia stage company

at Empire


Words Hannah Serrano Photos Gabe Romero

here do you take visiting actors for drinks and for dinner? Well, the closest great food and drink is where we’re sitting right now, Empire, because it’s right across the street. In fact, I met my current squeeze here. Really? Do you guys like to cook? Yes, I love to cook. We spent New Years Day making a big ole thing of collards, black-eyed peas, ham…the works. What’s your favorite meal to prepare? Anything related to breakfast or brunch. In fact, we’ve started a breakfast blog. Sunday brunch is a big part of our ritual. But when we cook, I love to go to the Farm Market. That’s kind of my Friday and Saturday loop, is go by there and pick up some fresh produce on my way home. What are your drinks-and-dinner standbys? A lot of it depends on whom you’re with. It’s funny because I feel like my life and my menu changes with who’s in town and what show we’re working on. No matter what you’re doing, though, the 219 is always solid. They have a wide range and that kind of Asian overtone going on. And their bar is a really popular after-show and after-rehearsal place. It’s a place where you can actually have a conversation. I wish we had more of that on Granby Street.

A Menu of hot and cold tapas—like this Mixed olive and goat cheese plate—complement the restaurant’s knockout cocktail creations

And what about date places? I don’t like all dates to be pretentious, so walking down to Cogan’s is always great. I think you know you’ve found “the one” if you can happily have pizza and beer on a date. Well, I may have found “the one.”

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H A U N T 40

Homebrew | Moonshine

Coming 01.30.09 to a bar near you winter | spring 2009

Beer Can Chicken Ever since I moved to Blackwater,

I’ve dug into the outdoor life like never before–trail running, kayaking, gardening, sittin’ on the porch—but I haven’t completely disowned my keep-up-appearances suburban heritage. (After all, those are Pottery Barn shelves next to the wood-burning stove.) This meal is an homage to my jumbled lifestyle. The chicken is THE moistest ever, yet it’s cooked outdoors using cheap beer, and the salad looks simple, but has an intricate flavor that compliments the smoky chicken taste. Straightforward AND aesthetically pleasing—that’s how I like it.

Recipe Leigh Rastivo Photos E-yage

The ingredients The Chicken ½ cup olive oil 1 tablespoon rosemary 1 tablespoon thyme garlic powder to taste—but definitely more garlic than rosemary and thyme crushed red pepper to taste—we like to kick it up a few notches 1 roaster chicken, 5-8 lbs, gizzards removed 1 whole garlic clove, chopped 1 can Budweiser Beer Can Chicken stand—from the Home Depot

Heat your grill 50-400 degrees. Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl. Drink, or if you’re prissy, pour out half of the beer. Add the clove of garlic to the half empty can of beer. Place the beer can in the stand. Place the chicken on top of the beer can. Brush the oil mixture over the entire bird. Grill it for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the bird has an internal temp. of 165 degrees. Carefully remove the bird from the beer can. Carve and serve. Do not drink the rest of the beer.  For the Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe, see Leigh’s blog at


SevenCities Still so much more to come. Watch for new releases every two weeks, and the grand opening of our headquarters, 42SevenGranby. winter | spring 2009 taste 41


Classic southern pecan pie

Recipe Kathy Reese This recipe, from the market’s Operations Manager Kathy Reese, was featured Photo Opposite E-yage in the Five Points Community Farm Market’s first cookbook in 2002. Virginia Photos Below Gabe Romero pecans are available at the market’s new location at 2500 Church Street.

The ingredients

1 9” deep-dish pie shell 1 cup light corn syrup 1 cup light brown sugar 1/4 stick margarine 3 beaten eggs 1 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely ground 1/2 cup pecan halves 1 teaspoon vanilla extract dash salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the above ingredients well. Fold in ground pecans. Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Check pie after about 35 minutes. When a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean, it’s done.

Decorate top with pecan halves. Create an aluminum foil “tent” for the pie, giving the pie room to rise above the crust level. Put the tent over the pie when you put it in the oven. This helps prevent the crust and pecans on top from over-browning, since the pie must bake for 45-50 minutes to thicken the pie mixture.

This recipe’s secret? The filling has an even richer, nuttier taste—thanks to the inclusion of ground pecans.

Pie’s the limit Bev Sell (Left) and Kathy Reese (above) of the Five Points market show off the facility’s brand new cafe.

How do you like them apples? Buy local. They’re tastier. 42

Five Point Community Farm Market • 2500 Church St. at 26th street, Norfolk winter 2009 757.640.0300 •| spring


Look for SevenCities magazines at your favorite local restaurants, retailers, and organizations. The following businesses are just examples of the fine destinations to up a copy today! Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau 232 E Main St | Norfolk 664.6620

Naro Cinema 1507 Colley Ave | Ghent 625.6276

Visitor Information Center Oceanview 9401 Fourth View St | Norfolk 441.1852

Good Neighbor MacArthur Pharmacy 261 Granby St | Norfolk 533.6566

For a full list of distribution locations, visit winter | spring 2009 taste 43


Recipe Lauren Izzo & Alfredo Torres Photos E-yage

Traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs You would never know

by looking at my girlfriend that she is Italian. The red hair, the blue eyes, none of that screams “old country,” but once you watch her in the kitchen preparing her spaghetti and meatballs, and get to taste her version of Old World cooking, you know that woman bleeds red, white and green. Coming from a long line of Italian women who have always taken pride in the presentation as well as the taste of their meals, not only does the meal look and smell wonderful, but tastes just as good, if not better. A feast for the eyes and the belly, I know that I’m not going to lose weight anytime soon.

–Alfredo Torres


winter | spring 2009

Step 1 | Get the sauce going

I could fill pages on how to make a perfect sauce from scratch, but the easiest way is to cheat (I just hope my grandmother’s not reading this from above). Start with your favorite store-bought variety of tomato or marinara. Use a large or ex-large-sized pot and heat on low. It’s important to start seasoning it right away; the longer the flavors absorb, the tastier the sauce. I’m not positive about the exact amounts, but start with about 3 teaspoons of garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons each of pepper, oregano, and basil. I tend to go heavy on the garlic, so use less if you’re don’t enjoy it as much. I don’t add salt to jarred sauce because it’s usually full of sodium. Instead, I sprinkle in some sharp cheese, but not yet. You’ll add about ¼ cup of grated parmesan later. Right now, though, it needs to simmer.

Step 2 | The meatballs

For the most flavorful meatballs, you’ll use all the seasonings you added to the sauce and then some. Since it’s not safe (and really disgusting) to taste the raw beef, the most important thing to pay attention to during this step is consistency. First, pour some store-bought Italian-style bread crumbs (anywhere from 2 tablespoons to ¼ of a cup) into a small bowl and mix with an equal amount of parmesan cheese. I add a teaspoon

The ingredients 2 1 1 1

jars marinara sauce lb ground beef lb spaghetti large egg

*all other amounts are estimated ¼ cup Italian style bread crumbs ½ cup (divided) parmesan cheese


cup of bread chunks garlic powder dried oregano dried basil black pepper salt

Coming 01.30.09 to a bar near you

or two of garlic powder, oregano, basil and pepper. Like the sauce, I always add more garlic than anything else and pass on the salt. Next, beat an egg before kneading it into the beef in a large bowl. After the egg is thoroughly mixed in, add the bread crumb mixture and continue kneading. The next thing to add are the chunks of bread. I like to use both heals of a sandwich loaf chopped into ¼” squares. My grandmother used to toss in stale Italian bread torn into bits. You could also use a dinner roll, or unused crusts from a PB&J. Once they’ve been kneaded in, add a little bit of your spaghetti sauce (start with just a tablespoon). The mixture should be soft, but not mushy and firm but not stiff. If it seems too dry, add more sauce a tablespoon at a time. If it feels too wet, add more parmesan a tablespoon at a time. Form the meat into 2-3” balls and place in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cooking the meatballs takes a lot of patience as you’ll have to turn them several times each to make sure all sides are browned. While you’re cooking the meat, taste the sauce. It will always be ready for more seasoning around now. Add a little bit of parmesan and whatever else you think it needs. Once the meatballs are browned on the outside, add them to the sauce. Make sure to pour in any grease they may have left in the pan (it sounds gross, but it really makes the sauce tasty). Keep it on low and cover the pot, but don’t forget to keep stirring and tasting.

Step 3 | The spaghetti

To boil a pound of pasta, you need 6-8 cups of water. Add plenty of salt (a tablespoon or two) and a few splashes of olive oil. I take advantage of the time it takes for the water to heat up by starting a salad or a loaf of garlic bread, and of course, checking the sauce again. Once it’s boiling, add the spaghetti without breaking it (half the length of the spaghetti will be above the water). After a few seconds (or maybe a little longer), stir it gently. The part of the spaghetti that’s been in the water will be soft enough to bend and all of it should easily fall into the pot. Stir frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick, and use the same spoon you’ve been using for the sauce. This will help flavor it as it cooks. Cooking times vary for pasta depending on variety, but start checking it at 8 minutes. The best way to test if it’s done is by tasting it. Throwing spaghetti against the wall makes a mess, and if it sticks it only means it’s mushy and overcooked. If it’s not done yet, check it again every 1-2 minutes and sample/season the sauce while you wait. Once it’s fully cooked, drain it well then transfer it to a large bowl or serving platter. Immediately add a few large spoonfuls of sauce and toss through the pasta. This will keep it from sticking together before you plate it up for the meal.

Actually writing down a recipe has been the most difficult part about cooking this dish. For me, preparing a traditional meal is like driving down a familiar road. I often ignore street signs and landmarks on my way to work, the same way I don’t pay attention to the quantity of seasonings or cooking time. I only hope I’ve been descriptive enough for everyone else to follow along.

––Lauren Izzo

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The pizza from Orapax takes the cake, delivering extra flavor in the form of garlic, feta, olive oil, and herbs.



We love pizza, and delivery pies aren’t cutting it anymore. That’s how this experiment began... Decider Gregory Epps Photo Gabe Romero

greeing that all corporate pizza tastes like ketchup on cardboard, my anonymous pizza agents and I excluded the likes of Pizza Hut and Dominos from our experiment. But with dozens of local pizza joints in the Seven Cities, where do you begin? Ranking our pies on the key elements of Crust, Sauce and Topping, we determined to eat our way to the answer. The variety of pies we encountered demanded ranking within their own categories. So to clarify, Italian pies are generally the classic Neapolitan thin crust (NY) style with herbal sauce. Greek pies tend toward thicker, crunchier crusts with a dominant olive oil and garlic taste, and Americanized pies have a soft, blander, bread-like crust with a sweeter, tomatoey sauce.


winter | spring 2009



2 | Atlas Pizza Chesapeake We don’t mind our would-be Italian pizza a little oily, but olive oily please. The crust isn’t bad, but if you tip the slice and yellow grease runs off, it’s time to rethink the recipe.

3 | Athens Virginia Beach This long-time local player is still doing what they do best—pleasing carnivores with fragrant sauce and “Yee-Ro Meat” (seasoned beef ), black olives, and Feta toppings. But our crew split on the (some say too-chewy) crust.

1 | Sunrise Pizzeria Chesapeake Sunrise makes a good (and filling) pie. Its dense bready crust has a nice yeasty flavor, and the sauce and pepperoni are mild. Want some fried chicken or a flounder dinner with that? The sprawling menu is an epic of eclectic choices.

2 | Chesapeake Pizza Chesapeake This Grecian-flaired eatery could distract you with homemade meatballs, but you’d miss out on its pie’s lightly browned, crisp light crust and garlicky herb sauce. It’s the best Virginia pie south of the Intercoastal Waterway.



1 | Orapax Pizza | Norfolk Orapax dishes it Old World-style, as your nose will know from the aroma of garlic, feta, olive, and herbs in every crunchy bite. Try Zorba’s pizza for a great Greek experience, but be sure to have your friends order the Spinach and Gyro pies, so you can share around.

5 | East Side Pizza Portsmouth P-town’s best kept secret has been slinging delicious Neapolitan pies for more than two decades. The pie’s crust passes the crunchy/chewy test, and they are not stingy with the cheese. Folks from neighboring Chesapeake often make a run for the border.

2 | Sal’s Pizza Chesapeake In this garlic-lover’s paradise, Sal’s homemade pizza sauce tops a thin, crisp-but-flexible crust supporting fresh toppings. A true NY-styled pie, perfect for folding, it reminds me of Empire Pizza on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, but it’s on Volvo Parkway in Chesapeake.

4 | Fellini’s Norfolk This is the way thin-and-crispy gourmet pizza is supposed to be made: with fresh toppings in a brick oven, baked by creative professionals who offer 22 custom pies. The Fellini’s Special, featuring bleu cheese and hot Italian sausage, still floats our boat.

1 | Cugini’s Pizza Chesapeake A flavorful, hand-stretched crust with a perfect balance of crispy/ chewy. Receiving top marks, the cheese and toppings are fresh and generous, the well-crafted sauce is fragrant, garlic and herb-balanced; and neither too salty nor too sweet.

CHICAGO STYLE PIZZA 1 | Uno Chicago Grill Norfok This unique chain (and Norfolk staple) shows folks like Pizza Hut how a deep dish pan pizza is supposed to taste. This pie’s thick crust is crunchy, appropriately bready, and not too oily. The patented sauce is well-spiced with oregano and the toppings are fresh.

3 | Chicho’s Virginia Beach After 30 years, this beach classic has opened four more locations. In the summer, hit the beach, order a slice at the window, fold and walk. Or go inside, get a pie and a pitcher, and read the signed band posters on the walls. The uniquely spicy sauce and hand-tossed crust is only a part of the Chicho’s experience.

The best New York-style pizza in the Norfolk area! Come by and see us, or order over the phone. Along with our hometown enviroment you'll see why this place has downtown Norfolk saying "I want Granby's Pizza.”

235 Granby St. | Norfolk VA

757.622.5085 47 winter springmuch 2009 taste subs | burgers | salads | gyros | homemade stromboli | calzones | |and more.

Place | Settings


winter | spring 2009


By the time I found myself in the bathroom of Terrapin with Chef Rodney showing me the sleek new sinks and backlit vanity mirrors, I knew for certain—this man has impeccably good taste. And he’s passionate about making his restaurant reflect it. Who better to prepare an impeccably good meal? The food from Einhorn’s kitchen translates the exquisite atmosphere, making dinner at Terrapin a feast for the senses. The smells and flavors of hearty, classic food pops against the visual backdrop. And it is not a bare canvas, but one with a palette of sea glass, cucumber and rich wood. There is a clean elegance that combines with charming warmth here. Geometric lines in the walls and hanging lights are softened by linen and lemony bright light. The shimmering concrete and stainless steel kitchen are cloaked in a striking zebrawood. This is the kind of place that would find an easy home in Paris or Chicago. One can only hope it will thrive here. As this is dining at its finest. –HS

Chef-Owner Rodney Einhorn

Terrapin isinaVirginia Beach visual stunner

Setting the pace for modern and elegant local restaurants,

winter | spring 2009 taste 49



Passport Palate Pasha Mezze | Musings of a Well-traveled foodie

hether it is genetic predisposition or by virtue of many travels around the globe, I find I’m perpetually drawn to the exotic flavors of ethnic cuisine. A shift in professional pursuits has curtailed my travels, however, and dining out has become a culinary substitute for my insatiable wanderlust. As a recent transplant to the region, I enjoy discovering the many hidden treasures tucked away in unexpected places around Hampton Roads: beautiful vistas, eclectic neighborhoods, quaint shops, and delectable cuisine. Finding good food is the easy part. Finding good food served at reasonable prices can be a bit more challenging. Finding a dining experience that helps assuage the longing to “be there” is nothing short of ecstasy. A recent discovery that’s destined to become a regular stop on my gastronomical wanderings is Pasha Mezze in the Palace Station Shopping Center in Ghent, Norfolk. Its website describes the menu as “Mediterranean and Anatolian Cuisine with American and European influences.” I would describe it as delightful. The name is an unusual combination of two Turkish terms: “pasha” is someone of high rank or office and “mezze” refers to small dishes or plates of food, much like Spanish tapas. I am not entirely clear what one has to do with the other, but I was not about to allow a lexical conundrum to get in the way of my palate.


winter | spring 2009

Words Michelle M. Falck Photos DCPG Photography Even before stepping inside, I could tell that these are people with an eye for detail and a desire for authenticity. The restaurant is tucked away at the back of a shopping plaza, but the architectural design and landscaping of the exterior, which includes an outdoor patio for dining al fresco, easily lets you forget that you are steps away from the asphalt and concrete jungle of an urban landscape. The mood continues inside with an airy dining room decorated in warm Mediterranean colors, dark wood furniture, and framed photographs of Turkish culture and scenery. An open kitchen lines one side of the dining area and a small but inviting bar beckons from the far end. For those seeking a more intimate or casual setting, as we were, a few steps past the bar takes you into a lounge area that is at once cozy and chic, with comfortable chairs and subdued lighting. Our waiter was friendly, helpful and always attentive without being intrusive. The menu was just the right length, offering enough variety to satisfy a finicky eater (including vegetarian and vegan selections) without overwhelming an indecisive diner. Organic ingredients are prominent throughout much of the menu and I was intrigued to learn that they are committed to using natural, healthy and—when possible—locally obtained ingredients. In the spirit of the mezze menu, I decided to sample my way through several items, a strategy that works particularly well when dining with friends not opposed to sharing. We started with the Pasha’s Signature Turkish Sampler, which included three types of hummus-like spreads: a portion of their

Intermezze what started as a market vendor, then a far-flung chesapeake gem, is now a ghent favorite.

muhammarah, a red pepper and walnut paste; a red lentil pate; and a traditional, organic chickpea and tahini hummus. Accompanying the spreads were two zucchini dishes, fried zucchini cheese puffs and a stuffed zucchini, both delicious. Having whetted our appetites, we delved into a shrimp casserole and marinated grilled chicken skewers. Served in traditional Turkish dishes, the food was as appealing to the eye as the taste buds. The shrimp and mushrooms were firm and the mozzarella was stringy like a melted cheese should be. The inclusion of capers gave the dish a briny flavor that might not appeal to everyone, but it adds a Mediterranean touch. The chicken skewers, served with a minty yogurt dip, were juicy and succulent. My only complaint is that trying to share the three portions between two people was a true test of diplomacy. The saving grace of eating mezze portions, however, is that for once I had room enough (or at least a clear conscious) for ordering dessert—a portion of the meal not to be skipped at Pasha Mezze. Desperately wishing for a sampler option, we finally narrowed down our choice to the baked rice pudding or the homemade bread pudding. We ordered both. The bread pudding was served hot with a crunchy, cinnamon crust topping and an underbelly of smooth, custard-like goodness. I alternated each bite with a taste of the cold, sweet, creamy rice pudding, and washed them both down with a hot organic chamomile lemon myrtle tea. So delightful was dinner that I elected to return the next day to

try out the Sunday brunch menu. There are fewer vegan and vegetarian choices on the brunch menu, but if you like eggs, you cannot go wrong. The organic eggs they use are so flavorful that you may seriously consider never eating regular eggs again. As before, I opted for a more traditionally Turkish sampler selection in lieu of the other appetizing options and ordered the Turkish Style Breakfast. When the plate arrived, my first thought was that I would still be hungry when I finished, but the selections are deceptively filling and more nutritious than my usual brunch standards of bacon, eggs, pancakes, and hash browns. In the center of the platter was a bowl of a Turkish goat cheese called Erzincan tulumu, sprinkled with grated walnuts. Surrounding it were small servings of Mediterranean olives, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers sprinkled with herbs, a hard-boiled egg and a delectable thick, crispy potato cake made from red potatoes. Served with this was a basket of freshly baked artisan breads accompanied with a hazelnut butter and two Turkish jams. To finish the meal, I ordered a Turkish tea and an order of baklava. I have heard some people complain that baklava is too sweet, but this version was the perfect balance of flaky phyllo dough and nut filling with just a hint of sweetness. And after all, would you really complain that heaven is too peaceful?

winter | spring 2009 taste 51



More than a mouthful

Route 58 Delicatessen | Virginia Beach deli heaps it on

eff Goldberg may be “just a kid from Jersey,” but he isn’t kidding around when it comes to sandwiches. The most popular item on the menu at his Route 58 Delicatessen, “The World’s Best Reuben,” is so fat with layer upon layer of thinly sliced red meat that the upper piece of grilled rye bread looks like a doll’s hat balanced precariously on top of a giant’s head. The only things bigger and rounder than these two sandwich halves are the customer’s eyes when he or she gets a good look at a plate so heaped with food it would have made Henry VIII blush. It’s easy to get why the servers at Route 58 don black T-shirts emblazoned with sayings like “Will Work for Pastrami” and “If You Finish We Made a Mistake.” It’s also easy to understand why Goldberg spends a lot of his time manning the meat slicer behind a glass-cased deli counter that runs the length of his space at Loehmann’s Plaza in Virginia Beach. This is the second incarnation of Route 58; it used to be called 58 Deli Diner and was located about 5 miles east on Virginia Beach Boulevard. Goldberg split from his former business partner after the property at the old location was purchased by the city. He opened the new, deluxe version in mid-August. The idea of own-


winter | spring 2009

Words Leona Baker Photos DCPG Photography

ing a deli like the ones of his childhood remained, but he kicked it up a few notches, creating more of a restaurant/deli with more menu items and serving dinner and desserts. The warm mustard-yellow and ketchup-red walls are covered with memorabilia and photos of “Meshpuchah” (family). The mountain-sized Dagwoods, he says, are part of his marketing plan. “That’s my advertising budget,” says Goldberg of the monstrous portions. “Even if they can’t finish it, the first thing they say when they see somebody else is, ‘You won’t believe the size of the sandwiches.’ It’ll coast me a fortune in to-go boxes, but what the hell.” The word-of-mouth approach seems to be working. During a Monday lunch shortly before Christmas, Route 58 was jammed. A handful of diners crammed into the small waiting area near the front door eager for the next available seat, an enviable problem for any restaurant owner in the current economy. Goldberg says his secret for survival during these challenging times is simple: perceived value. Most of the sandwiches at Route 58 cost $10 or more. That famous Rueben is $12.99. But sometimes you really do get what you pay for. “I don’t know about everybody else,” Goldberg says, “but for me, it’s being different. I mean I’m the only game in town. I’m the only one that does what I do, and we do it right. And we give people a lot of bang for their buck.” Goldberg orders a lot of products from the world-famous Carnegie

Deli in New York, and it’s that great New York deli tradition he emulates at Route 58. “My philosophy is to be as good or better than they are. People come in here with the expectation that it can’t be everything it’s cracked up to be. They’re so used to places that have opened up around here that used good products but they didn’t prepare them the right way. So people come in here and say, ‘Prove it.’ And so you say, ‘Here’s a sample and we’ll make a believer out of you.’” The menu is certainly authentic. Deli sandwiches and basic breakfast items (pancake with two eggs for $8.99) share equal billing with traditional Jewish fare like matzo ball soup (cup $3.99, bowl $4.99), potato knishes ($5.99 plain or $11.99 with corned beef pastrami or beef brisket and brown gravy) and hand-sliced nova and salty lox platters ($14.99 each). Of course there are all-American burgers ($9.50 with bacon/cheese or $9.99 for a “New Jersey Pizza Burger” with red sauce and provolone) and all-beef hotdogs ($3.25 a piece with basic toppings or $9.99 for “Uncle Pete’s Pistol Pups,” two dogs topped with corned beef and pastrami and served with coleslaw and potato salad). “My Big Fat Greek Salad” ($8.99) is just that, large and in charge and topped with dice-sized hunks of feta and kalamata olives. And you have to ask, but the Caesar salad ($6.99 plain, $9.99 topped with grilled chicken breast) will come with anchovies. The “58 Garbage Plate”($12.99) features hot roast beef, turkey or beef brisket served with grilled onions topped with a mound of crinkle cut fries and smothered in brown gravy. And the “Stuffed Cabbage Rolls” ($14.99) come with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, rye bread and butter. And what New York-inspired deli would be complete with a ginormous slice of cheesecake to top it all off? Hey, we never said this was health food.

any ‘wich way Route 58’s famous reuben sandwich brings a little bit of jersey to the heart of Virginia Beach at loehmann’s plaza.

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Passage to india First with nawab and now with rajput, Chhabra’s authentic indian fare is a staple in the seven cities.

Rajput Special Rajput | Sweet, spicy, savory cuisine

here’s something so sensual about Indian cuisine...the golden colors of curry on succulent lamb, a creamy salted mango lassi to quench the heat, and the soft light of a blue-jeweled brass lamp. It’s hard not to feel warm and fulfilled at a great Indian place. Nevertheless, exotic food will always tend to scare off many a weary diner. But for some, the more difficult a dish is to pronounce, the more alluring it is. I’m of the latter category. There are few places in this area that are successful in transporting its guests to faraway lands and new horizons of cuisine. Rajput is one of those few. Sitting amongst portraits and paintings of Rajas and Maharajas, guests at Rajput are served heaping platters of food fit for kings. The attentive service continues that feeling, although a few of the servers speak very broken English. (In my opinion, though, this only adds to the sense of authenticity and world travel.) The ambience, with its glowing low light, makes for a great date. But the inviting openness of the dining room and frequent buffets might


winter | spring 2009

Words Hannah Serrano Photos DCPG Photography be perfect for a big family meal. Once a month Rajput prepares a massive vegetarian buffet that would appease any type of eater. And in fact, the Vegetable Korma is perhaps the best thing on the menu. When last I visited, all three in my dinner party ordered the Rajput special, a sampler for $16.95. The meal begins with a choice of soup. We each chose differently and found that the best is the Sambar; “a spicy vegetable and lentil soup,” which is actually not very spicy and has a semi-sweet balance. For my sampler I chose Tandoori Chicken and Lamb Curry, both solid dishes. The savory deliciousness of the Vegetable Korma isn’t at first apparent, but the heavenly aromatic creamy sauce is simply to die for. The Seekh Kebab and Basmati Rice are almost an unnecessary extravagance. But the Naan Bread (which is perfect to stuff with the Korma) is alone is worth a trip. For Indian dining—one of my favorite nights out, and which I have tasted quite a lot of—I’d rate this food as “very good.” However with its lack of competitors, Rajput is a delicious staple in this area’s restaurant cuisine scene. The experience is made even more accessible with cooking classes, a website to neatly illustrate the 300+ item menu and allow customers to place takeout orders directly, and the hospitality of owner Paul Chhabra, who will likely greet your table with a smile and bid you good night as you leave.

New items daily... featuring something for every appetite...

One Taste is never enough. An extra helping, anytime

Coming 01.30.09 to a bar near you

2009 Restaurant Week Featured Participants


Two-course lunch $10.99


Caesar salad | Bread pudding Dip sum doughnuts


Fresh baby spinach salad | Chicken w/leeks, shallots and applewood smoked bacon | Shepherd’s pie, ground beef and vegetables simmered in au jus

Three-course dinner $25.09


Caesar salad | Bowl of soup de jour


Chicken penne pasta | Salmon Tortellini Panko crusted seasonal whitefish served w/ smashed potatoes and French beans

Dessert choices

Bread pudding | Dip sum doughnuts 757.333.3334

EURASIA Two-course lunch $10.09

Appetizer/dessert Sweet Potato Bisque | Crispy Fried Oysters | Edamame | House Salad Entrée Buttermilk Chicken Ciabatta | Carolina Style Chopped BBQ Sandwich Fish of the Day

Three-course dinner $25.09 Appetizer Sweet Potato Bisque | Crispy Fried Oysters | Edamame | House Salad Entrée Fish of the Day | Chicken Pad Thai | Shrimp and Grits Dessert choices Creme Brulee | Seasonal Fruit Crisp Tropical Persuasion

960 Laskin Road Virginia Beach, Va 23451 757.422.0184


Participating In Restaurant Week ‘09 Daily Lunch buffet Veggie + vegan buffetS

First Thursday of every month Saturdays | Vegetarian-friendly brunch buffet Cooking Classes Caesar salad | Bread pudding Dip sum doughnuts Takeout available View full menu online at We Serve Appetizers | Soups | Salads | Breads & Tandoori | Chicken Specialties | Lamb & Goat Specialties | Seafood Specialties | Vegan Specialties | Deserts

742 W 21 St Norfolk 757.625.4634 winter | spring 2009 taste 55

With its unique blend of fine restaurants, boutiques, cafes, shopping, professional services, and quiet residential neighborhoods, Norfolk’s Historic Ghent is truly a diverse urban destination.

We invite you to explore the beauty and charm of Historic Ghent at!

Ghent Business Association

Restaurant Week 2009



For particpating restaurants, visit 56

DestinationGhent.Com winter spring 2009 |



All Things in Moderation…

ife is full of temptation. There are things we want but are told we shouldn’t have. And if by some luck we can have it, only in moderation. The way I see it, moderation simply becomes another word for guilt. You can have a second helping, but by God it’ll go straight to your thighs. You can have a drink, but only a glass of red wine with dinner (for the antioxidants). It’s high time we come to realize that yes, all things are good in moderation—but because we can only appreciate the full pleasure of an indulgence when we’ve suffered its absence. We are programmed to want and do certain things to prolong the existence of our species. In truth, we are all descended from hunters and gatherers who’d slay a mastodon for a bit of meat. So really, the cavemen with the strongest urges to eat caloriepacked food and impregnate sexually alluring women were those that actually survived. Though our hunt for sustenance ends at a McDonald’s drive-thru rather than some corner of arctic tundra, we still have in us those desires. And though we’d like to think we’re sophisticated beings with hopes and dreams and artistic aspirations, at the very root of it all, we are just eating, crapping, horny pleasure-seekers. It is the end of a summer day; the air is warm and the sky is rosy. Which sounds better to you: smoked pulled pork slathered in a sweet and tangy sauce with crisp coleslaw and a few cheap American beers, or boiled oats and a glass of water? And at night, the thrill of new intimacy and unbridled passion, or a life spent alone?

Words Brendan Kennedy Photo DCPG

… Including Moderation

Nowhere else offers , all in one place. do to gs in th ny a m so is always full. Downtown, our plate

Obviously without moderation it is a dark path. You can find yourself chasing a feeling, never getting satisfaction. And this of course can lead to legal issues or, in the worst-case scenario, death. Even if you survive, the treatment for developing habits like these typically involves sitting in rooms full of people talking about how much they used to like doing something, but how stupid it was to let it get out of control. And the coffee’s never any good either, damn it. However, it is the author’s opinion that there is too much of an instinct to over-moderate—to forego an experience that will make them happy out of fear that it will. If you have a hard day, and you think you have to get drunk to deal with it, do. If you’re at your favorite late-night spot and you meet someone who makes your heart skip a beat, it very well might be the right thing to do to invite them up to your place. Don’t stop yourself from experiencing that which makes life worth living. Just be safe, and if you think you’re setting bad habits for yourself, stop. Like maybe avoid pounding two 40-oz bottles at the end of every day. And it’s probably not a good idea to sleep with every person who buys you a drink (unless they work for this magazine…then it probably is the right thing…we’re that fucking cool). Remember, moderation is meaningless without indulgence. And keep that impulse to keep everything in control in control too. Brendan Kennedy is, like all the rest of us, an eating, crapping, horny pleasure-seeker; as well as a SevenCities writer and 24SevenCities blogger. Contact him at, and look for Kennedy’s feature on home-brewing in the premiere issue of Haunt.


winter | spring 2009 taste 57

DIREC Featured in Taste

For complete listings and links, log on to 456 Fish 456 Granby St | Norfolk 625.4444 aLatte Cafe 321 Granby St | Norfolk 625.2326 Athens 1929 Centerville Turnpike | VB 479. 9878


Atlas Pizza Bodega Oceanfront | 213 17th St 517 Kempsville Rd | Chesapeake 442 Granby St | Norfolk 428.1615 312.818 1 622.8527 bodegaongranPortsmouth | 5200B George Washington Hwy 487.7172 Bad Ass Coffee Company™ Byrd & Baldwin Bros. of Hawaii, Inc. Catch 31 619 18th St | VB Steakhouse 3001 Atlantic Ave | VB 233.4007 badasscoffee. 116 Brooke Ave | Norfolk 213.3472 com 222.9191 byrdbaldwin. com Chesapeake Pizza Bayside Inn 424 Battlefield Blvd S | Chesa2104 Pleasure House Rd | VB Blue Horseshoe Tattoo peake | 482.4444 460.1593 VB | 515 London Bridge Rd 486.8286 Chicho’s Big Easy Grill & Oyster Bar 111 Tazewell St | Norfolk Hampton | 5013 W Mercury Blvd 827.8286 227.6227 Cobalt Grille Norfolk | 8204 Hampton Blvd 1624 Laskin Rd | VB 333.3334 282.6672

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CTORY Cugini’s Pizza Elliot’s Fair Grounds Coffee Five Points Community 1729 Parkview Dr | Chesapeake 806 Baldwin Ave | Ghent Farm Market 366.9696 640.2899 2500 Church St | Norfolk DCPG Design 640.0300 + Photography Empire Little Bar Bistro 552.4881 245 Granby St | Norfolk Ghent Business Association Del Vecchios 626.3100 1080 W 47th St | Norfolk Eurasia GLAM Magazine 440.9300 960 Laskin Rd | VB | 422.0184 gay. lesbian. alternative. magazine Dr. Lucy’s Cookies Fellini’s 233.9495 Granby Street Pizza 3910 Colley Ave | Ghent 235 Granby Street | Norfolk East Side Pizza 625.3000 622.5085 5618 Portsmouth Blvd Fire & Vine Portsmouth | 488.3113 1556 Laskin Rd no.134 | VB 428.8463

Granby Theater 421 Granby Street | Norfolk 961.7208

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at select businesses throughout the Seven Cities.

Featured distributors highlighted in directory.

winter | spring 2009 taste 59

DIRE Great Saigon 5802 E Virginia Beach Blvd | Norfolk 455.5149 Green Onion 1603 Colley Ave | Ghent 963.1200 Gringo’s Taqueria 612 Norfolk Ave | VB | 961.2987 The Health Food Center 1701 Colley Ave | Ghent 625.6656

60 58 38

The Heritage 314 Laskin Rd | VB | 428.0500 Imperio Inca 723 W 21st | Ghent | 486.4622 Kins Wok 77645 Granby St | Norfolk 423.2828 Lynnhaven Fish House 2350 Starfish Road | VB 481.0003 MacArthur Pharmacy 261 Granby St | Norfolk 533.6566

| spring2009 winter winter| spring 2009

Mahi-Mah’s Norfolk Convention 615 Atlantic Ave | VB | 437.8030 & Visitors Bureau 232 E Main St | Norfolk Marathon Consulting 664.6620 Visitor Information Center 505 S Independence Blvd | VB Oceanview 427.6999 9401 Fourth View St | Norfolk Mojito 441.1852 300 28th Street | VB | 233.6855 Orapax 1300 Redgate Ave| Ghent Mongolian Express 479. 9878 333 Waterside Drive | Norfolk Pasha Mezze 640.8616 350 W 22nd St Palace Station Naro Cinema Shopping Center | Ghent 1507 Colley Ave | Ghent 627.1318 625.6276

CTORY Peninsula Fine Arts Center Sal’s Pizza 101 Museum Dr | Newport News 1032 Volvo Pkwy | Chesapeake 596.8175 382.9999 Press 626 Shula’s 626 W Olney Rd | Ghent 235 E Main St | Norfolk 282.6234 282.6347 locations Rajput 724 W 21St | Ghent Sunrise Pizzeria 625.4634 817 Botetourt Ct | Chesapeake Route 58 Delicatessen 410. 2448 4000 Virginia Beach Blvd | VB Ten Top 227.5868 748 Shirley Ave | Ghent Salacia 622.5422 3001 Atlantic Ave | VB Terrapin 213.3473 3102 Holly Rd Pinewood Sq VB | 321.6688

The Boot Vintage Kitchen 123 W 21st St | Ghent 999 Waterside Dr | Norfolk 627.BOOT 625.3370 Tortilleria La Morena Inc The Winehouse 11710 Jefferson Ave Bar & Bistro 1517 Colley Ave | Ghent Newport News | 594.6099 TReehouse 622.7777 A Magazine of Possibilities thetreehousemagazine. com at select businesses Uno Chicago Grill 5700 E VA Beach Blvd | Norfolk throughout the 466.0923

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61 winter winter| |spring spring2009 2009 taste 39 59

Editors hannah serrano | Editor-publisher

“The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.” —D.H. Lawrence



winter | spring 2009

here are the things we need just to exist. We need warmth and shelter, and we need to eat. Then there are the things we need to really live our lives. Like feeling loved and having hope, feeling connected to the world and being inspired by it. There was an early episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie admits to buying Vogue rather than dinner when she was young and broke and new to New York. She said she felt it nourished her more than food. As a writer (and future magazine editor) of course I knew exactly what she meant. But my heart has changed some. As I’ve come to discover so many places here in the Seven Cities where every meal is lovingly prepared and the dining room has that certain feeling of home, I’ve realized the most important reason for creating this magazine—and it’s not about the food. It’s about being together and feeding each other, telling stories and sharing something wonderful. It’s about filling the heart. In this, the way that people eat says as much or more about a culture than the art they make or the words they record. At one of my favorite places, Pasha Mezze in Ghent, there is often prayer in the kitchen. In result the food is infused with spirit and light. The stone-ground wheat bread, made fresh inhouse, would have D.H. Lawrence reconsider. The meticulous presentation at Byrd & Baldwin, the modernity of Terrapin and the wit of Little Bar Bistro would also attest to the poetry of eating beautiful food. As well the charm of Stove, the intimacy of Eurasia Café, and the progressiveness of The Boot… The point is when you are out enjoying these three great food weeks, remember to not just eat but taste. As the point in life is to not just exist but live. So here’s to your health, Hampton Roads! And to much more reading and happy eating.

ALLISON HURWITZ | editor-Publisher

Can you taste it?


othing in the world is like that first taste; The adveture and excitement of experiencing something for the very first time. The newness of sensation is unparalleled. What is this? your mouth asks your brain, as your brain scrambles to sort its response, probing around for context. You swallow and reflect; a layer of knowledge has been added to your palate. There are many kinds of first tastes: the tension and crescendo of a first kiss­—the vestal newness of feeling another’s lips, tongue on your own; when your heart breaks in two at the first chords of a song never heard before. The thrill of discovery. The initial encounter. Despite having never once tried it, my best friend in college just knew she hated Indian food; it was too “spicy.” Imagine her surprise when, by clearly a miracle of God, she mustered the courage to nibble the corner of a samosa. And liked it. Yes, she had to be eased in gently with the virtual equivalent of an Indian Hot Pocket, but still. Witnessing the shock flash in her eyes, as the look of disgust melted off her face was priceless. Even more priceless, however, were the consequent Sunday afternoons we spent together gorging to the brim on aloo gobi masala and baigan bartha at Udupi Cafe. I couldn’t say I told you so, even if it wasn’t such an obnoxious phrase. For I could have described the depth and subtlety of the Eastern spices all day long—it wouldn’t have mattered. She simply had to taste for herself. That’s what makes first tastes so scary, so exciting, so beautiful; It’s what makes a first taste so amazingly wonderful.

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BAR THE WINEHOUSE PHOTO DCPG HOUSE BEAUTIFUl The winehouse sparkles in its new colley avenue location.


winter | spring 2009



dcpg photograph & design

Conventional wisdom says that starting a business with your siblings or spouse is risky and can lead to conflict and strain. Deliberately ignoring that advice, brothers Mendell and Lester dela Cruz, plus Mendell’s wife Ciesther, formed DCPG Photography + Design in 2005, bringing their unique perspectives and artistic talents to the Hampton Roads community. The trio specializes in print & web design and photography including architectural, portrait and commercial. Aside from their mission of beautiful, purpose-driven imagery, DCPG also believes that nothing beats doing what you love with the ones you love.

Michelle M. Falck

Michelle M. Falck began freelancing in 2002—traveling to Honduras and writing a series of award-winning articles for Bangor Daily News. Inspired, she left Washington, DC and a 10-year career in international development to pursue the writing life. Falck has since written articles on business profiles and academic research to human interest stories. (She even wrote a column about the woes & joys of single life for a weekly Pennsylvanian newspaper.) Despite an insatiable wanderlust, it was a love of tall ships and a new job opportunity that brought Falck to Norfolk in 2007. She hopes to meld passions for travel and food into a culinary exploration of her new home in Hampton Roads.

Marisa Marsey

Marisa Marsey’s love affair with food began early; at 11-months, she walked for a Mounds bar. Marsey went on to graduate from Georgetown, moved to New York, and traveled whenever possible. She’s broken bread with bedouins in desert tents and feasted on castle grounds with European royalty (alright, some of them of the lesser variety, but still…). She is a recruiter for Johnson & Wales and began writing about food & travel in 1993, contributing to Port Folio Weekly and the Virginian-Pilot, amongst others. She has interviewed leading culinarians Wolfgang Puck, Patrick O’Connell, Edna Lewis, and Jean-Louis Palladin. Marsey has twice been recognized by the Virginia Press Association, most recently for an article on edible erotica.

Leigh Rastivo

Born and raised in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, Leigh Rastivo moved 14 times to other suburbs, and then finally found her home on five rural acres in the woods of Virginia. She has two sons, one daughter, one son-in-law, and one amazing grandson. She holds an MFA in Fiction from The Bennington Writing Seminars. Rastivo writes fiction and nonfiction. She works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Old Dominion University and as an Instructor at TCC and The Writer’s Studio of Virginia Beach. She also consults on proposals and grants.


Name: E-yage Badtz-Maru. Age: Old enough to know better and young enough to laugh at it. Nationality: Global Citizen. Ethnicity/Race: Universal Being. Shoots with his soul. Talks to his camera (and it talks back!) His images are an amalgamation of concepts showing us what we miss when roses are not stopped to be smelled. When he is not image-making, you can find him in his alter ego role as a green consultant and chief of design at Jugernot LLC. His solutions help companies accelerate into more environmentally responsible and profitable

Gregory Epps

Gregory Epps has completed many works of fiction, mostly unpublished, and some of it deservedly so. In published work, he has completed eight years of weekly film criticism for Port Folio Weekly and written a few dozen newspaper features. His current mission is to grow so talented that his words have the power to seduce women and make grown men weep, expose the hypocrites, sow political dissent, make clerics question their faith, frighten evil men and embolden the righteous.

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Gabe Romero

Gabe Romero is a visual communication designer. His passion for photography developed as he realized how much he enjoyed using the camera to record moments that could eventually bring back memories and create special feelings. He feels the lens truly acts as a third eye— letting you see a world filled with wonder and candor. Romero acquired his skills and techniques through self-study, and has turned his passion into a profession. He is now an avid photographer who shoots weddings, concerts, and other events. He enjoys documenting travel adventures and is experimenting with nature & landscape photography.

Ty Bliss

Local “wit about town” Ty Bliss has been active on the local performance circuit for nearly two years and has produced more than 20 live comedy performances. As a standup comedian, his dry-wit and dynamic storytelling has delighted audiences from Norfolk to Manhattan. As a show producer, he brings a good eye for talent and keen attention to detail. He is working with as a dedicated blogger and frequent contributer. Bliss is also a manager of Beicide, a constantly expanding performance collective that for years has been fashioning the alternative comic circuit in Hampton Roads.

Leona Baker

Leona Baker is the former Senior Editor of Port Folio Weekly. She is the recipient of a first-place Virginia Press Association award for feature writing. She’s written for Style Weekly, 64 Magazine and Dance Magazine among others. She’s a self-professed food freak since her Italian greatgrandmother taught her how to make a proper marinara sauce when she was 10. Yet she is not afraid to admit she loves ranch dressing and Cheetos. A former wanna-be rock star, personal trainer, hotel maid, bartender and native of Gloucester, Virginia, she’s desperately awaiting the grand opening of a new Trader Joe’s in Virginia Beach, where she lives with her husband and 7-year-old daughter.

Ashley Grove

Ashley found love when she created her first purse in sixth grade. From that day she hasn’t stoped crafting and designing. She earned a journalism degree from Ball State University and ventured to Virginia almost two years ago to see what the east coast could offer her. Ashley is a freelance designer and jumps at every opportunity for design. She finds bliss in her ancient cats, bins of discount fabric and her mom’s homemade banana cookies.

Michael Preble

Michael Preble has been photographing professionally since the late 1980s. He has exhibited nationally and regionally, including art festivals, galleries and, museums, and is included in numerous public and private collections in Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, and Virginia. Preble is current curator at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, and is Editor of the William Baziotes Catalogue Raisonné project. He holds a BA in Art History from Cornell University and an MA in Humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills. See more of his work at

Ernie Smith

Recently, Ernie Smith was sitting in a coffee shop when a patron (who hadn’t been there in a year) claimed that the last time he was there, Ernie was in the same spot. He doesn’t deny this. In fact, he finds it kind of endearing, and plans to stay in that spot when that guy returns. The designer, late of the Virginian-Pilot’s Link, contributed to the editorial layout and advertising design of this Taste. He also recently launched a tightly-edited news Web site,


winter | spring 2009

Happy Endings


winter | spring 2009 taste 67

a guide to eating on the cheap some high-value hideaways to keep you sustained through the longest of winters.

CHEAP EATS Decider Tyrone Bliss

Kin’s wok 7645 Granby st norfolk 757.423.2828 Located in a remarkably eclectic strip mall, Kin’s Wok is probably the freshest tasting and cheapest Chinese food I've ever eaten. general tso's chicken lunch special Despite what's been said about him, General Tso was remarkably brave and if you can match his mettle and order it extra-spicy, you'll be in for a real treat. Note this is one of the more expensive lunch specials at a whopping $4.95—and that includes tax, fried rice, and your choice of soup or soda.

Del vecchio's 1080 W 47th st norfolk 440.9300 By far the most famous cheap eat on the menu. Ask any odu student where the bargains are and he or she will point you to del vecchio's. Here they are well known for serving up don corleone-quality pizza at fredo prices.

hole-in-the-wall Vietnameseowned redneck bar. Say hello to the full cast of colorful regulars—from shady rednecks to misanthropic youth and anyone trying to tie on a serious buzz. Traditional philly cheesesteak Best served with a cold PBR.

Great saigon 5802 E VA Beach Blvd | Norfolk 757.455.5149 Although the low-priced dishes can reach as high as $7.00, they are served in practically inedibly large portions. Smells like victory! And cumin. Curried Shrimp Lunch Special It’s just awesome! The sauce is peppery and thick, like a good pork gravy, but with all the exotic flavors of the East and just a touch of the sea. It comes with crabmeat soup and a huge, soft spring roll for $7, tax included.

Mojito 300 28Th st | VB 757.233.6855

sausage slice The sausage is packed with fennel! The sauce is wellspiced and used in perfect ratio to the thin, yet chewy crust. Every day from 2-5 pm all slices are just $1. Tax included.

Founded by an ex-new york chef whose experience and eclecticism show though in every dish. While the prices may be steep for the average deal-seeker, the portions are huge and the dishes are world class.

Bayside inn 2104 Pleasure house rd | VB 757.460.1593

Cubano sandwich A thick, grilled shreddedpork sandwich served with garlic sauce and extras including two kinds of plantain.

If you're in the mood for a dive bar, stop in to this winter | spring 2009 68

Mongolian Ex press 333 Waterside Dr, Norfolk 757.640.8616 Wow; we've arrived at the third Asian cheap eat. It seems immigrants from communist countries are naturals at keeping prices low. The staff at this Waterside eatery is no exception, with deals across the board from Chinese-style specials to traditional Mongolian barbecue. The achievement of this Zen-like balance of high-quality food and low cost is surely another victory for the proletariat. Battered vegetables I usually get the "fried rice platter," which is $3.25 and pairs its namesake with fried yam, fried

broccoli, and two deliciously greasy egg rolls.

Tortilleria LA Morena Inc 11710 Jefferson Ave Newport News 757.594.6099 This is the quintessential foodfind: affordable, surprising, and delicious. Oh, and find me another Mexican restaurant that makes fresh tortillas daily! Chicken tostadas These are surely the best value; a classic tostada topped with three labored-over sauces. The most complex Mexican dish I've had at only $1.75 each.

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Taste | SevenCities  

Winter|Spring 09 a foodie's take on the SevenCities