Trinity�s trinity: location, atmosphere, and an infamous chef

food-cornerrest-scale-webGoodbye O'Neill's; hello Trinity. The upscale Irish pub on The Corner opened in October and it's already making a name for itself.

After months of renovation, the former O'Neill's Pub space on The Corner has finally been transformed into Trinity Irish Pub. Apparently, it was worth the wait. According to manger Mackenzie Smith, the Irish and “European bistro-style” pub has been attracting foodies, grad students, young professionals, hospital employees, late-night bar scene types, and just about everyone in-between.

“We’ve brought something a little more upscale to The Corner,” says Smith. “So we’re attracting all kinds of people.”

Indeed, the place has three bars on three levels with eight beers on tap, including Guinness, of course, and three separate sound systems–- one for each level. There’s also a balcony overlooking the street on the second floor where folks can step out for a smoke, as the owners decided to make the restaurant smoke-free. When the weather gets warmer, the ground floor’s French doors will unfold “Paris caf©-style” so that tables can pour out on to the sidewalk.

Trinity, which opened October 27, is the brainchild of two young Chicagoans, Ryan Rooney and Kevin Badke, who may never have opened the place if it weren’t for a one-day visit Rooney made to Charlottesville last year.

“I was literally having lunch outside at the College Inn when they were putting the for lease sign on the building next door,” says Rooney, who says the only prior time he’d been to Charlottesville was for a UVA football game when he was 13. Rooney says he tried to get an appointment to see the splace that day, but wasn’t able to. Back in Chicago, he couldn’t stop thinking about it, so friends told him to go back and check it out.

But Dish’s ears really perked up when Rooney mentioned the name of their chef: Josš De Brito.

Was this the same infamous Frenchman whose devotees of his food, cheese, and wine emporium, Ciboulette (now home to Orzo in the West Main Market), formed a group called Friends of Ciboulette to support the struggling business with cash donations because they loved the food–- if not the customer service–- so much? Indeed, it is.

As Dish recalls, when Ciboulette closed in 2006, distraught foodies called the Hook desperate to know where De Brito had gone. All this despite a rather colorful note De Brito taped to Ciboulette’s door explaining the closing and complaining about “snobby ladies eating steak with iced tea, asking ice to be put in a delicious glass of Sancerre” and how provincial Charlottesvillians didn’t appreciate the “superb lunch” he had tried to make.

“I might be one of those French ***hole,” De Brito wrote, “but I have principle and won’t stop to have them, not to make money.”

Rooney is well-aware of De Brito’s reputation, but says his own Irish heritage makes him appreciate the fiery personality. More importantly, Rooney says De Brito was interested in their concept, which he likens to a European “gastropub”– though he dislikes the term– where high-end, simple food is served in a casual atmosphere.

“It’s amazing how hard it is to make good simple food,” says Rooney.

Given De Brito’s reputation, you may want to visit Trinity sooner rather than later if you’d like to experience his cuisine. And whatever you do, don’t drink iced tea with your steak!

[[foodfinder:Trinity Irish Pub]]


I love the food, great place

Trinity is just what we needed in Charlottesville. Awesome food and very cool atmosphere.

Went in on a sunday nite and - no food, a rather unkempt and unclean feel, and little enthusiasm from the staff. Not a winner.

Been thrice so far...great food, will keep going back. Fries are overcooked, though. But holy crap, the whiskey sauce on the hanger steak will make your taste buds tremble. Yum.