We’re #17! We’re #17!

Good news: The latest edition of Frommer’s “Cities: Ranked and Rated” has Charlottesville ranked as their #17 city, Brian McNeill wrote in yesterday’s Progress, down from its #1 ranking in the first edition of the book. The top ranking, bestowed three years ago, brought a great deal of attention to Charlottesville, particularly in the form of people moving here because they heard it was a good place to live. Hence, the price of housing went way up (hey, it’s a bargain if you’re from Jersey) which, ironically, is precisely why we’ve dropped to #17. As Mayor David Brown points out, “a little breather would be a good thing.”

But, if anybody from outside C’ville asks why we dropped in the rankings, tell them it’s because of our failing schools, legions of homeless, out-of-control STD rates and, of course, that serial murderer who’s still on the loose.

95 Responses to “We’re #17! We’re #17!”


  • Yea, that’s the ticket, and tell them it really smells here too. We have enough people thank you very much. Everyone from NY/NJ and CA should all go somewhere else. Now that I’ve moved hear that is. :-)

    I would wager that this is not uncommon for a high rated place to drop pretty quickly precisely because it was a high rated place. Such is life in the fast lane.

    Now if they’d just hurry up with Albemarle Place and would someone get me a latte… what?

  • Okay, I’ll tell them that. Considering my husband is going to interview for a job in New Orleans, #17 looks pretty damn good to me.

    We should also add that traffic is terrible and no one knows how to drive correctly.

  • In some parts of the city they do know how to drive, but I won’t tell you which ones. Don’t want anyone else going there!

  • Yeah. My driveway.

  • Is Charlottesville a little like Brittney? You got all the attention, and now you want to shave your head.

  • *Laugh* I’m wondering at what moment we flashed the cameras while getting out of the car. :)

  • Also, there are no good pizza restaurants. You can’t be the best place to live in the country and not have a good pizza place. (I’m actually serious on this point.)

  • Also, there are no good pizza restaurants.

    To support more businesses, you need more people. I’ll never cease to be amazed at the people here who are so anti-growth, then complain that there’s not enough businesses near them, not enough good night spots, places to eat, and stuff to do.

  • There’s a word for this particular combination of traits, Chad: dunderhead. :)

  • I dont think more people neccesarily equals better pizza. There are plenty of pizza places in this town, but I want one with a wood-fired oven, thin crispy crust and simple toppings, dagnabbit.
    I actually think Cville has plenty of businesses, night spots, places to eat, etc.,–I’m just peculiar about my pizza.

  • Stuart, I think you just need to head over to Crozet Pizza. I think they’ve got what you want. (And, you’re right, in this case, it didn’t take more people. Crozet Pizza has been baking since way before Crozet started its march towards uber-suburbanization.)

  • I dont think more people neccesarily equals better pizza.

    Oh, I think you’re right about that. I was thinking of people who say “no more growth” and then complain “why can’t we have a [chain business] here?” This is especially bad in Crozet. Who the hell moves to Crozet and then complains that there’s no sushi restaurant? It would be like moving to Tibet and then bemoaning the lack of Pizza Huts; clearly, you’re living in the wrong place.

  • I dont think more people neccesarily equals better pizza. There are plenty of pizza places in this town, but I want one with a wood-fired oven, thin crispy crust and simple toppings, dagnabbit.
    I actually think Cville has plenty of businesses, night spots, places to eat, etc.,–I’m just peculiar about my pizza.

    Right, it’s a bit of a stretch, but in my mind:

    More people -> more demand for pizza -> more pizza businesses -> more competition -> better product/value.

    Waldo summed up better what I was trying to get at:

    “Oh, I think you’re right about that. I was thinking of people who say “no more growth” and then complain “why can’t we have a [chain business] here?””

    That’s more of my pet peeve.

  • I confess that I have never made it to Crozet Pizza despite living here for 10 years or so. I will shut up about pizza until I give them a shot.

  • What we need are more high-paying jobs to match our cost of living not necessarily more people (although I don’t mind new people. I have always thought that a variety of people from different places is what makes this place unique). Then again higher paying jobs will in the end just attract more people. It’s a catch 22.

  • Stuart… Have you tried Vinny’s? You have got to try Vinny’s too. Actually that sounds pretty good right about now. I guess I know where I am going for lunch. :-)

    Sylvia’s and Christian’s on the mall are good too.

  • DontBelieveTheHype

    stuart, I hear your complaint with central VA pizza, but Crozet Pizza is very over-rated. Not horrible, but not better than say Christian’s here in town… which is not to say Christian’s is great, but just that the drive to C’zet isn’t worth it.

  • Pizza’s a matter of taste and tastes vary widely. (My wife actually likes Pizza Hut, for example.) Stuart says he’s looking for a thin crust from a wood-fired oven. Crozet Pizza fills that bill.

  • Christian’s is very blah. Crozet may be overrated, but it’s better than Christian’s by a long shot. I prefer Mellow Mushroom’s myself.

  • Man, I apologize to Waldo for hijacking this thread with Pizza talk. I’ve had Vinny’s, Anna’s, Christian’s and Sylvia’s, and none of them to me taste markedly different from the pizza served at every faux-Italian restaurant across these great states (Not that there’s anything wrong with these pizzas. Mediocre pizza will always be highly edible.)
    And I do have to give a tip of the hat to Mellow Mushroom–for a semi-chain, it’s pretty good.

  • How can anyone not love Christian’s (or that other pizza place downtown that has almost exactly the same pizza b/c that’s where Christian’s got started)? It’s some of the best pizza I’ve had anywhere. Thin, crispy crust, any topping combination you can think of, lots of flavor, etc. I know why all the NY/NJ people move here b/c NY pizza is horrible. Slimy, limp, and no flavor. Mellow mushroom is too greasy, and I’ve always heard Crozet Pizza is overrated.

    It must be lunch b/c I’m really hungry now.

  • Man, I apologize to Waldo for hijacking this thread with Pizza talk.

    You’ll find no objection from me. :) Think of the topic of each blog entry as a mere suggestion for discussion — y’all take it from there.

  • Seems like good pizza kicks in once you cross the border to Delaware. Used to love the pizza at the Crystal. Is that still there, on Main street?

  • ‘Fraid not, Uva82. In fact, I’ve never even heard of it — though I was born in 1978. :)

  • It’s not just pizza, everything is better in Crozet! Oops shouldn’t have said that. Probably see another rezoning request next week for that slip of the tounge.

  • What exactly makes a good pizza or chinese for that matter? I have had both NYC pizza and chinese. It was good, no doubt, but it didn’t strike me as anything special.

  • For me, it’s all about the sauce. That, and a crust that’s not doughy and overly chewy. It doesn’t necessarily *have* to be thin crust, just as long as it’s not doughy. Honestly, the last time I had Papa John’s it was just tough, chewy dough with a thin, watery sauce and a few raw bits of onion and acidic green pepper tossed on top.

    The Crystal was on the oppposite side of the street from, and probably a few blocks past the Blue Moon Diner, if you’re heading in the direction away from the downtown mall. Isn’t there some kind of overpass or bridge or something? I think it was just before that. The owner was Greek, not Italian, and they had the *best* souvlaki as well. And we were always one of just a few — at most — other tables there. Last time I was in there must’ve been 1985.

  • Former Jersey girl here to chime in about pizza. I haven’t told many people about this for selfish reasons. The closest thing to the pizza I grew up eating is at Mona Lisa Pasta (Preston Ave, by I-Y). No joke. It’s very, very good.

    Christian’s is also good, just different from what I’m used to.

  • Jeanine, I’m a former Virginian who now lives in North Jersey. Today is my first day posting here, but I’ve been lurking for awhile, and more and more frequently all the time. C-ville’s growth issues are fascinating to read about.

  • If you don’t mind driving south on 29 for about 10 miles, Dr Ho’s Humble Pies at the Crossroads Store is pretty good.

  • UVA82, where in North NJ? I grew up in Bergen County…Ridgewood, to be exact.

    Sorry for the chit chat, all. Bottom line: there was no way to stay at #1. WE know our city rocks and we don’t need Fromer’s to tell us that.

  • Mona Lisa Pasta’s pizza is extraordinary. (Say that ten times, fast.)

  • Fabio’s. A real Philadelphian told me Fabio’s is the best pizza here. (But i don’t know how it could be better than Crozet.) Fabio’s gets a good crowd from the locals. East High Street near Free Bridge, one hillock down from Riverside Lunch, same side, on the left. You can order in Italian, if you know the Neopolitan dialect. If not, they’ll make fun of your funny shirt.

  • “UVA82, where in North NJ?”

    I’m in Bloomfield, in Essex County, which definitely doesn’t rank anywhere near the top of anything. (Although after living there for several years now I’ve grown attached to it.) I’ve heard it referred to as part of “the Parmesan Triangle”, the other two corners of said triangle being Nutley and Belleville. They filmed some of the final scenes of “the Sopranos” at one of our local ice cream parlors.

    You would think Northern N.J. is saturated with development, but it keeps coming. I’m starting to get a little active with my neighborhood association, and find myself fascinated with this site’s reporting on Albemarle County development. I drove down 29 north from D.C. a couple of summers ago, and could not believe the density of shopping centers. It will all meet in the middle someday, btwn C-ville & D.C.

  • I guess the biggest adjustment for me (a native New Yorker but of much more recent California vintage) was the idea that, in Cville, pizza slices are deliberately made cold and then reheated. A place like Christian’s could easily have hot pies streaming out at lunch time.

    Instead, the fresh-from-the-oven pizza is usually put aside while the customers get slices that are put in the oven for reheating. I may be a purist, but a fresh hot slice tastes better to me than a reheated one.

    And, while a Christian’s fan, that pesto is damn peculiar. What’s in that anyway?

  • I agree what constitutes good pizza is entirely subjective. I’m old enough to remember Barnaby’s Pizza on Greenbriar Drive when there was a movie theater next door, and there wasn’t the variety of pizza places in Cville. Was it good pizza I don’t know, but every now and then I wish it were still around so I could give it another taste.

  • I’m still trying to remember where Crystal’s was. Somewhere around Continental Divide? I remember many pizzas at Espresso’s on West Main (Northern Exposure location), home of “the only espresso machine in Charlottesville”… though I know the C&O had espresso stove-top kettles, and we had specialty coffee shops like the Coffee Exchange and the Roasted Bean (just starting). Espresso’s always had a want ad in the paper, always, and the same people now run the Italian Villa, the all night joint in Emmet St. Other pizza it would be interesting to taste today would be from Anna’s Pizza #5 on Maury Avenue. Wait, I think it’s still there! Bring napkins!

  • If Mas made anything like pizza, you know it would be good. They have a fantastic brick oven, dome shaped.

  • Espresso’s always had a want ad in the paper, always, and the same people now run the Italian Villa, the all night joint in Emmet St.

    I guess that would help to explain why the full name of Italian Villa is “The Espresso Italian Villa.”

    Other pizza it would be interesting to taste today would be from Anna’s Pizza #5 on Maury Avenue.

    I like Anna’s. It’s your basic floppy, cheesy pizza. Nothing fancy.

  • People don’t like Casella’s? It’s no earth-shattering experience, I’ll admit, but it’s not delivery pizza either…I think it’s not bad. Their white pizza in particular is good. (Why do I feel like I’m going to get flamed for liking Casella’s?)

    I like the Brick Oven, too. They’ve got wood-fired ovens and they bake it right there for you.

    I’ve never tried Pizza Bella because I’m always seduced by their pastas whenever I go there. Any votes for them?

  • What’s up with Carmello’s, anyway? I’ve never been there. Tourist trap? Good Italian food? I have no idea. Dunno if they have pizza.

  • The only place to eat decent *real* pizza – not that doughy crap from the chains OR from any the locals we’ve tried is… MY PLACE! Made fresh and from scratch!

  • I agree what constitutes good pizza is entirely subjective.

    Truer words were never spoken…

    I’m old enough to remember Barnaby’s Pizza on Greenbriar Drive when there was a movie theater next door, and there wasn’t the variety of pizza places in Cville. Was it good pizza I don’t know, but every now and then I wish it were still around so I could give it another taste.

    I am old enough to have worked at Barnaby’s (as a dishwasher) and man, did they have good pizza. I think it was all in the (yeasty, braided) crust. I LOVED that pizza!

    I like Anna’s. It’s your basic floppy, cheesy pizza. Nothing fancy.

    Anna’s is my local pizza place and yeah, outta the box it ain’t that fancy, but next time you are there, order up an eggplant, italian sausage and onion with extra cheese and see if that don’t get you satisfied.

  • “I drove down 29 north from D.C. a couple of summers ago, and could not believe the density of shopping centers. It will all meet in the middle someday, btwn C-ville & D.C.

    It will probably converge somewhere around Madison within the next couple of decades. Culpeper is already a fringe community of DC and Greene is now an established suburb of Charlottesville. The only place left is Madison.

  • I love this thread. I love the memories about Espresso and Barnabys- that was when the business from the Greenbrier Theater could support Barnabys. I always loved that theater.
    Pizza wise I claim no special expertise, my favorites are Fabios and Casellas. I will actually drive to Fabios since they dont deliver. Unfortunately all of these places are closed on Sundays (being family owned and all) so my family cant have pizza on Sundays.
    Of course, I grew up on Friday night pizza & subs from Sal’s in Crozet (and orange soda from IGA).

  • Personally, I don’t really care what all these Yankees think about our pizza. If they don’t like it then they can grab a compass and follow the needle. ;)

    I’d put my vote in for Dr. Ho’s. I just wish the shop was bigger so when they have music we can have bluegrass and eat our pizza too…

  • Quit with the pizza talk! I’m getting hungry for any restaurant’s pizza. Well, not Papa John’s.

  • This is a great town if you are one of the below:

    1) An artsy-fartsy type who loves all the liberalesque “culture” that the University provides
    or
    2) You are very wealthy and can affords a nice home.

    This is not a great area for working folks. Everything is expensive. Salaries do not reflect the over inflated cost of living. My “reasonably” priced duplex comes in at nearly $300,000 and it’s not in what I consider a great neighborhood in northern Albemarle. I have to contend with a 45 minute commute to drive 13 miles. Did I mention that my property tax has exactly DOUBLED in 5 years? Where is all that money going?

    It’s a known fact that many of the large employers in the area (most have gone under by now) came to this area to tap two things. UVA talent and cheap labor.

    I’m sorry but for working folks with jobs and kids free concerts downtown, the “free speech board”, and the Corner just don’t make this a great place to live. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad – I lived in much worse places. It’s certainly not a friendly town – so I guess that’s not a criteria for palcing in the top 20. Good Lord – your kids can’t even play together without organized “play groups” for God’s sake. Snobbery rules the day.

    Flame on from the Kool-Aide drinkers.

  • Flame on from the Kool-Aide drinkers.

    Wow. You are an angry man, Mike W. And you didn’t even tell us what kind of pizza you like!

  • Being unhappy with both Anna’s and Christian’s can lead to this sort of anger.

  • “I’m sorry but for working folks with jobs and kids free concerts downtown, the “free speech board”, and the Corner just don’t make this a great place to live. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad – I lived in much worse places. It’s certainly not a friendly town – so I guess that’s not a criteria for palcing in the top 20. Good Lord – your kids can’t even play together without organized “play groups” for God’s sake. Snobbery rules the day.

    Flame on from the Kool-Aide drinkers.”

    You know I was born and raised here. Now I go to undergraduate school here and God willing I will get into grad school here. I was one of those teens in high school who swore that I would leave Charlottesville and never turn back. I recently spent a few months living out of town in a city just a short drive to the East and found myself missing home. For me a great place to live has less to do with what I can do on a weekend and more to do with the connections I have to the people who live there. I am very close to my large family and I believe it is they who ultimately make Charlottesville the best place to live for me.

    Of course the gorgeous scenery, the recent explosion of concert options, UVA games and activities, friendly people, and the wide array of restaurants doesn’t hurt.

  • Pizza update: I bought some fresh dough for about $2 from Mona Lisa Pasta last night and made a quick pizza at home. It was a convenient and satisfying option when I dont have the time or patience to make dough myself.
    As for Charlottesville itself. The good points and bad are well documented and repeated ad nauseum. I’m in my 20s, have a manageable mortgage and decent job and like the climate, concerts and restaurants.
    It’s not too shabby.

  • Total cost of production / baking for a pizza that’ll feed a family of 4 with teenage young men is around $3 to $5, depending on fresh toppings. It’s 100% clean, healthy, wholesome and especially not over-salted food you simply cannot obtain in any local restaurant. If you count the transportation to, or a delivery tip from, you end up saving incredible amounts of money cooking from home. Many European countries KNOW how to eat better and cheaper than our corn-syrupy fast-crap culture. LEARN HOW TO COOK FOLKS!!!

  • LEARN HOW TO COOK FOLKS!!!

    Rrriiiiigggghhhtttt…
    Because talking about our favorite restaurants means we don’t know how cook.
    I think you could do better, Sympatico.

  • There are some amazing restaurants here I have to admit, so it’s hard to complain…. but I’ll try. :-)

    Actually I like the pizza choices. Sylvia’s and Christian’s are quite good. Brick Oven which no one has mentioned can be quite good. I’ll try some of the other’s mentioned, esp. Mona Lisa’s.

    My main complaint is Chinese food. OK, I’ll admit I’m a bit spoiled from years in San Francisco. But come on. I’d love to here of any good choices out there. I haven’t found any so far. Oh, and only OK Mexican food. I’m spoiled in that department as well.

    Oh, and not bad Tai food around here. But the strongest showing is in the more traditional European and American type restaurants.

    Mmmmm. Now I’m hungry too.

  • They filmed some of the final scenes of “the Sopranos” at one of our local ice cream parlors.

    One of my elementary schools classmates is a location scout for the show. I’ve only seen it a few times, but what I do see it, I’m looking at the backgrounds, trying to figure out where they are, not at the characters.

    The only place to eat decent *real* pizza – not that doughy crap from the chains OR from any the locals we’ve tried is… MY PLACE! Made fresh and from scratch!

    Cville News get together at Sympatico’s?

    This is not a great area for working folks. Everything is expensive. Salaries do not reflect the over inflated cost of living.

    Its all relative. I made less in Boston and paid $945/month for rent (one bedroom in a two bedroom apt, utilities not included) plus $150/month for a parking space. A 20- or even 30-something owning a home in Boston was rare up there.

    I don’t see many reasons for a Cville resident to have a “grass is greener elsewhere” mentality.

    By the way, play groups are everywhere. They aren’t a function of rich people

  • Sympatico, I know how to cook. My cornbread,cranberry, pecan stuffed, bacon wrapped, pork tenderloin is Fantastic if I do say so myself! Shall I bring it to the Cvillenews potluck at your place? Thanks goodness Wendell Wood built Sam’s Club so that I can get cheap tenderloins. In the interest of balance I use nitrate free bacon and cranberries and pecans from Whole Foods.

    Even though I cook most of my family’s dinners I still enjoy an occasional night off at Mellow Mushroom, Sticks, The Brick Oven or one of the other nice places that time and growth have brought to Charlottesville. I remember when there was not one Chinese restaurant in town and then the Chinese Dragon on Fontaine opened and man was that big news! And lets not forget The Caravan, the home of the Humpburger. Or maybe it’s better to forget some things.

    The rice at Sticks is really good!

  • Huh? I’ve never even heard of most of these restaurants. What’s wrong with Dominos? I love their buffalo sticks, too. Also, when is Charlottesville getting an Olive Garden? That place rocks. Mmmmmm.

  • Mike W. wrote:

    This is not a great area for working folks. Everything is expensive. Salaries do not reflect the over inflated cost of living.

    […]

    I’m sorry but for working folks with jobs and kids free concerts downtown, the “free speech board”, and the Corner just don’t make this a great place to live. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad – I lived in much worse places.”

    Amen. I agree entirely.

    And since I can’t have Barnaby’s anymore (unless I fly into Chicago and then drive to close in suburb- I forget which one- it must’ve been a small, teensy actually, chain) I when I want local pizza I like the Cheesy Anna’s pizza. I usually eat in and it doesn’t seem outrageously expensive the way sometimes pizza can be.

  • So we’re moving to Chinese are we? Well, I’ll provide my 2 cents. While I agree that none of the offerings here are much, I think Dragon Lady and Szechuan Restaurant are a notable cut above the others.
    My girlfriend thinks Thai is always more interesting than Chinese, so I rarely get to eat Chinese anymore, but the Rainbow Chicken at Szechaun is superb. White meat chicken, bell peppers and onions in a spicy gingery sauce.

  • Ahh, Barnaby’s! I forgot what night(s) they had their pizza buffets… still can visualize it when I’m in Guada.
    A friend of mine worked there, Bilco.
    Any votes for College Inn?
    I suppose you take the good with the bad with all this growth. I remember the revered Downtown Mall being deserted; only thing missing was Clint Eastwood and the spaghetti western music. Eat downtown after Woolworth’s is closed? Not happening.

    Speaking of spaghetti, pizza, I gotta go get something to eat.
    Thanks for the earlier tip on CSA’s, Waldo! We hitched up to Horse and Buggy and it’s a weekly highlight.

  • I think it is hilarious and somewhat sad that the true rating of a town is based upon the crust, topping availability and flavor of PIZZA!! As a former professional pizza cook and present-day home-spinner of tasty pizza-pie, it is an important factor for rating any town, but not the top. Personally, the amenity I really look for are adult-sized, real-deal swingsets, but I digress.

    Housing costs are a BIG obstacle to home-ownership for the true first-time homebuyer.

    HOWEVER, I know why I cannot afford to buy a home here, and it is NOT high property values or tax rates (city or county). In fact, why would anyone WANT to buy in a place that doesn’t have good property value and poor prospects for appreciation? Not me…

    I cannot afford to buy a home here because I spent my money going to college, and then graduate school. No, these things aren’t cheap and yes, I have college loans which I am repaying now and for the next 20 years. And, I have repeatedly avoided the big-shot career job with the salary-increase and bonuses to pursue a life of routine underemployment in favor of higher education and self-satisfaction. And that is cool.

    Oh, and I have a hang-up about nice clothes, so I spend my money on that and on dinners that I make for my friends.

    So while I understand that some of work force cannot afford to live in the communities they serve, that is not my obstacle nor do I hold anyone responsible for my ongoing status as a tenant. Anyone, that is, other than me.

    I love it here.

  • I like nice clothes, but not when I’m eating pizza. For some reason the sauce always winds up on my clothes. Why is that anyway? OK, so I’m a slob, but you’d think I’d miss messing myself once in awhile.

    And do we really need an Olive Garden? Do we really need a Target? Do we really need an Albemarle Place? A little Indian, a little Chinese, some Italian and good burger here and there, that’s really all we need. We’re not going to get any finer cuisine with more freaking chains coming in.

    PS: The college inn has great gyros.

  • I heard the best Gyros are at the White Spot but I’m not ready to believe that yet.

  • Hi folks, but you forget the thick burgers at Barnaby’s… wow, I couldn’t eat a whole one, but it was great breakfast in those days!

  • I used to just about live in the Spot. A bowl of pinto beans, crackers and water were dinner too many times. Does anyone else miss Henry and his pink bow tie?

  • Thanks for the earlier tip on CSA’s, Waldo! We hitched up to Horse and Buggy and it’s a weekly highlight.

    I’m glad that’s worked out well for you, Jay. I just got home with my latest H&B haul — two pints of strawberries, a pound and a half of tomatoes, two heads of lettuce, a pound and a half of spinach, a pound of rhubarb, and a dozen eggs. And I’m leaving for a week’s vacation on Saturday; it seems I’ve got some eating ahead of me. :)

  • Um, this is a little off topic and all (it has nothing to do with pizza, Chinese food, hamburgers, or rhubarb), but did Waldo say something about a serial murderer? Did I miss something? I know there’s a serial rapist on the loose…

  • Don’t worry, Cecil: it was a joke. :) The joke being to invent or exaggerate the town’s woes, real or perceived.

  • BilCo said:
    May 10th, 2007 at 1:36 pm
    >>LEARN HOW TO COOK FOLKS!!!

    “Rrriiiiigggghhhtttt…
    Because talking about our favorite restaurants means we don’t know how cook.
    I think you could do better, Sympatico.”
    ______________________________________

    Well, if you DID know how to cook – really cook – you’d find the pizza alternatives out there UNACCEPTABLE without exception. The Brick Oven? What a total joke. Yeah, maybe when the so-called Chef is around, but otherwise, it’s some nitwit serving under-cooked and/or wet pastry. It’s the same friggin thing everywhere. There’s zero consistency even if you can find a decent pizza once in a while. Nah, my home pizzas would be valued at like $20 a pop EASY, and you can’t charge for QUALITY around here anyways because there are far too few that can recognize the difference, so it’s a lost cause. No, folks, learn how to cook and ye might form some fashion of proper food culture…

  • Kevin Cox – you pork tenderloin does sound yunny, albeit you obviously are attracted to the fats, even if nut fat is mostly good stuff. Indeed, Sam’s Club does have particularly good prices on that meat and cut. How do you cook yours? Do you get it sizzling brown and finishing off in the oven? Very slightly pink is best. A lovely al dente rice-pilaf and fresh collard greens would match this dish nicely. Of course, there’s a million combos that’ll work with that too. But the “au-jus” is begging for something “bitey” to go with it.

    Chinese in Cville? Frankly, Americans’ taste for just about any “ethnic” food revolves around dropping the salt-shaker (or non-refrigerated, fermenting soy in this case) in everything. There have been a few good attempts at culinary delight in Cville over the years I’ve been able to witness the scene, but unfortunately, CONSISTENCY is universally lacking. I remember being very impressed with an evening at the OXO, but when we returned a year later, it had lost its single Michelin star from me (btw, a single étoile Michelin makes you way above most everything in Cville…). I’ve had a great experience at l’Etoile near the tracks also. The only Italian fare that could even be qualified as authentic was a exquisite repast at Al Dente (from a Moroccan Chef!). Also, Ivy Inn and Hamilton’s have been okay at times. C&O is hit or miss, and it’s never THAT great.

  • Oh, and the best burger in town is at Ruby Tuesday’s. Mine are better, but they have been remarkably consistent. Too much salt on those fries, though, boys! Salad bar is okay and consistent too. Probably best deal in town for a working Joe.

  • And do we really need an Olive Garden? Do we really need a Target?

    yes to both!

    i wish target wasn’t so far up 29. the fact is, chain stores like that are actually open. if i want to do any sort of shopping in the evening, local stores are right out. many of them roll up at 7 or 8 o’clock. that’s one huge advantage chains have, not to mention familiarity (probably huuugely underrated) and price.

    i don’t mind paying a little more to buy locally as long as it is easy for me to do so. unfortunately, it’s usually not.

    and the fashion square mall is simply horrible. i can’t figure out *why* this town doesn’t have a half-decent mall, but that one certainly is not up to snuff.

  • OK Sympatico, you’re now going to have to put your pizza doe where your mouth is. No wait, where my mouth is. Cooking time at Sympatico’s!!

    Mmmm, Hamilton’s, now there’s a nice treat. There are actually a lot of good places I think. Hey, a foot long all the way at Jack ‘n Jill can really hit the spot.

    The real problem with restaurants anywhere, the best in NY and SF I’ve had included, is they only tend to be great for a while. I don’t know what the problem is, but that must be a really hard business to be in. Get it while it’s good, then move on to the next good place. Sad but true.

    Of course it isn’t always about suburb gourmet. Mostly it’s about pretty good wine or beer, ok food, and great company. Because in the end it’s a social thing about being with friends.

    Cheers.

  • “The real problem with restaurants anywhere, the best in NY and SF I’ve had included, is they only tend to be great for a while. I don’t know what the problem is, but that must be a really hard business to be in. Get it while it’s good, then move on to the next good place. Sad but true.”

    Yes, it’s a tough business. Clientèle is fickle and trained to the fast food taste. To make matters worse, good help in a college town like cville is Mission Impossible.

  • ” the fashion square mall is simply horrible. ”

    OK, this is really dating me — but just look at my posting name for a hint — anyway, I remember going to Fashion Square Mall on its opening day…Charlottesville’s first enclosed mall! At the time it was on the border of the hinterlands.

  • The real problem I have with restaurants is that I can’t afford to go out to eat on a regular basis. It’s pretty much once a month when the groceries are slim and we need something quick and then it’s pizza, Indian or Chinese, things we don’t cook much of at home.

    Fashion Square is a mall and a mall is a mall is a mall just like a Target is a Target is a Target. Once you get north of Hydraulic Road on U.S. 29 it’s hard to know if you’re in Omaha, Des Moines, Taunton or Charlottesville because it all looks alike with it’s Tyson Corner restaurants and Minneapolis-St. Paul shopping centers.

    I think I just talked myself into lowering our rating to about 23.

  • I think I just talked myself into lowering our rating to about 23.

    Keep it up! ;)

  • Usually, I don’t see a point in complaining about what is wrong without stating something that is right about where we live. However, today I will make an exception.

    We went out to dinner last night, not because I don’t know how to cook, but because we were playing outside until we were so hungry that waiting for me to gather the dinner together was an obstacle.

    I live within walking distance of more than a few restaurants. However, there are no good walking pathways to keep my family and I off the roads and away from cars. The options were to A)drive or B) risk the safety of my three young children by biking or walking along roads. We chose to drive. It made me sad. I really wanted to walk.

  • “I remember going to Fashion Square Mall on its opening day…Charlottesville’s first enclosed mall! At the time it was on the border of the hinterlands.”

    UVA82… You know my mom once told me that Hydraulic use to be the edge of town and 29 was 2 lanes on each side. My grandmother once told me that Barracks was the edge of town and 29 was one lane on each side. I wonder what I will be telling my children?

  • it all looks alike with it’s Tyson Corner restaurants

    Hold up…did I miss something? Did Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris open here? Let’s be real…we’re a little behind when it comes to higher end chain shopping and dining.

    That’s okay with me, though. Without those upscale restaurants and the “big portion” chains (Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s, Brio), the traffic stays in Tysons and Short Pump.

  • UVA82… You know my mom once told me that Hydraulic use to be the edge of town and 29 was 2 lanes on each side. My grandmother once told me that Barracks was the edge of town and 29 was one lane on each side. I wonder what I will be telling my children?

    …probably something like: “I remember when Baltimore, MD used to be the edge of town and 29 was only 4 lanes on each side… Yep. THOSE were the good ol’ days!”

  • Well, if you DID know how to cook – really cook – you’d find the pizza alternatives out there UNACCEPTABLE without exception. The Brick Oven? What a total joke. Yeah, maybe when the so-called Chef is around, but otherwise, it’s some nitwit serving under-cooked and/or wet pastry. It’s the same friggin thing everywhere.

    Damn, dude. For someone who doesn’t eat pizza in a restaurant you sure are an expert on how crappy all those places are. Who is your source?

  • Sympatico,
    Since you asked…I butterfly cut two tenderloins then flatten them with a tenderizer hammer until they’re about a half inch thick. Then I lay one down on six or seven pieces of bacon. Then I pile on the cornbread, cranberry, pecan stuffing, lay the other tenderloin on top, wrap the bacon around the two and pin the strips in place with toothpicks. I wrap it in aluminum foil and cook it at 325 for about 40 minutes then open up the foil and brown it. It is delicious but not very healthy so I only do it a few times a year. Usually we have yams and a salad along with the meat. Next time I do it I think I might sear it first under the broiler then roast it. My wife likes it so I think I’ll go out to Sam’s now and make one for Sunday dinner.
    Cordially,
    Kevin

  • Next time I do it I think I might sear it first under the broiler then roast it.

    Actually, Kevin, I think you are doing it the best way now. Don’t change a thing. My experience with slow cooking pork is that if you do any fast cooking techniques first, like par-boiling or searing, the meat just does not come out as tender even if you slow cook it afterwards. Slow cook first to keep things juicy and then do your searing or grilling or what have you at the end.

    Your recipe sounds awesome, by the way. I look forward to giving it a go, but it seems like more of a cold weather dish. Perhaps in the Fall…

    Of course, as my amigo Sympatico points out, I don’t “really know how to cook” so take the above with a grain of salt.

    Oh wait! Not salt!

  • Kevin, hopefully that’s pork LOIN you’re beating up there, not TENDERLOIN.

    Try this and serve to your wife’s and friends amazement:

    1. Rub your raw tenderloin (thaw 1st if kept in freezer) with a mixture of olive oil and a little salt & pepper; [do not pound this meat]
    2. Heat a skillet on medium-high with 2 teaspoons olive oil; also, preheat oven to 375;
    3. Skillet-sear the meat slightly brown on both sides, which will seal the meat’s moisture;
    4. Just before taking it off the burner, add a ½ cup red wine, a bit of chopped garlic and if you like Cuban, a pinch of cumin and chile powder;
    5. In an open roasting pan, put tenderloin and skillet bits/dripping in oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on meat thickness and to taste (check with a knife for slight pink).

    The result should be tender as softened butter yet this is fairly lean. Serve with your favorite sides, preferably fresh as described above.

  • PS – Not that you need this serving suggestion, but cut the tenderloin (just what you will eat) into 3/4 inch medaillons and spoon on the “au-jus” from the roaster.

  • Sympatico,
    It is actually tenderloin. For heavens sake! I know my my tender from a plain old loin! Two tenderloins packaged together are $2.88/lb. at Sam’s. This time I’m using the dry berry mix from Whole Foods instead of the cranberries. I could kick myself for letting all those tasty pan drippings go to waste in the past. They’ll be dripping on the medallions this time.

    I’ll try your recipe but I’ll have to modify it. I don’t use wine when I cook. Do you have a suggestion for a substitute?

  • Kevin, I think the @2.88/lb is for “case” deals, but it’s still only like $3 and some change when purchased in 2 packs.

    The wine has two intents: for taste and deglazing. You do know the alcohol content is cooked out, so remember that when you decide you can’t “use wine to cook”. Anyway, any acid that fits to your liking: a mix of rice vinegar and balsamic (very little will do!), or even a citrus like lime (fresh squeezed only!) to stay in character with the Cuban theme. Be careful! You don’t want the dish to taste acidic!

    Deglazing is best done off the burner yet the skillet is still hot. Also, you can add say a half small can Light Coconut Milk (organic and cheap ‘365’ at Whole Foods) all the way at the end of the roasting with heat turned off to give you more ‘sauce’.

    The drippings are usable only because the tenderloin in question is relatively lean. Don’t do that with fatty butchery, k?! Lastly, the berries are nice and all, but I propose trying this dish as described first, as this is sort of a ‘taste purity’ thing: the sugar content in the fruit will modify the personality of what I’m suggesting quite a bit, with a notably thicker sauce. Healthy cooking prefers natural simplicity of just a few fresh premium ingredients over complexity.

  • Anyone remember Checkers Pizza?

    Also, Waldo we have a serial rapist and not a serial murderer running around as you mentioned in your initial post!

  • Sympatico,
    It’s $2.88/lb. for a two pack. I bought one yesterday.
    Cordially,
    Kevin

  • Waldo we have a serial rapist and not a serial murderer running around as you mentioned in your initial post!

    See previously.

  • I lurk around this site an awful lot even though I don’t live anywhere near Charlottesville. I was in town last fall and I really fell in love with the area and now I guess I’m sort of stalking it in a sense (what with reading this site when I don’t live there). I’d seriously consider relocating except there aren’t really enough jobs in my field. Anyway, this post cracked me up, b/c when I saw the new ranking was 17 all I could think was: “Cool! Maybe people will stop moving there so it isn’t too crowded if/when I’m able to relocate there!” Yeah, hi, I’m just a bit of a hypocrite!

    Oh and housing is kind of a bargain if you’re from Jersey -which I am (so that line also made me laugh).

    I do find it interesting that to an outsider like me, it really does seem like a great place to live – even with all of the issues every town deals with (traffic, development, etc). I guess the grass really is greener on the other side.

  • OK on a serious note…

    When will C-Ville get a good Tex-Mex Mexican restaurant. Sure the places we have are good and we go to Guadalajara and El Puerto and all the other authentic Mexican places a lot.

    But man would I kill for a Rio Grande or Chevys type of Mexican place in this town.

    (ps born & raised & still living in the Cville area)

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