FOOD: DISH-Full of surprises: Lee's good fortune and singing chefs

The Chinese restaurant Good Fortune, located next to Café Europa on the Corner, recently changed hands and is now sporting a new name: Lee's Grill. The Lee is James Lee, a Lynchburg restaurateur who decided to open the Asian-inspired eatery, his third in town, about two weeks ago after an extensive remodeling.

He had been contemplating the move for some time. "I have more friends in Charlottesville than Lynchburg," says Lee. "And besides, they don't really like to try new things in Lynchburg," he laughs.

Lee says he likes to cook a wide-variey of things: "It's like a hobby for me." For instance, Lee's Grill will feature Japanese grilled meats, Thai food, and he even plans to offer food from Laos.

"I like to learn new things, you know, read about new and interesting dishes and put them on the menu," he says. Indeed, in addition to traditional Chinese dishes, Lee has whipped up such unique and un-Chinese treates as a Caesar Steak sub with fresh garlic bread and a cheeseburger. "If you come to Lee's places," he says, "I may surprise you with what I'm cooking."

Pizza crust SuperStar

SuperStars Pizza

, located right next to the Tavern where "students and townspeople meet," recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. That's a lot longer than its predecessor lasted.

For those who remember, Buffet-Style Pizza lasted only a few months in the same spot. But it looks like Richmond-based SuperStars is here to stay. According to general manager Taylor Antonelli, "Charlottesville has really started to buy in to the Take-n-Bake idea."

That would be SuperStars' unique practice of offering its pies fully prepared but uncooked. Of course, you can get their pies by the slice and sit down inside or on the patio, but these take-home-to-cook pies are quite a draw. With toppings like smoked oysters and Thai marinated chicken, they aren't your typical store-bought Bobolis.

Apparently, students in Richmond also rave about SuperStars' toasted specialty subs and fresh salads. Happy Birthday, SuperStars Pizza!

Pasta party

"We're going to set up a station in the Main dining room, and our Executive Chef Tony Bonanno is going to create custom pasta dishes to order," says Jeff Hale at Northern Exposure. Hale is talking about NE's new Pasta Night starting on March 20.

"People can come in, sit down, and order their drinks and appetizers, then go up to Tony and tell him what ingredients to combine to create their own signature pasta dish," Hale says.

Diners can load up on everything from chicken, shrimp, crabmeat, Portobello mushrooms to steak. House-made marinara, Alfredo, Bolognese, and Pesto sauces are topping possibilities. Pastas choices will include angel hair, linguini, penne, and tortellini.

"This way, the cook gets to meet the customer," says Hale, "and they can see their dish made before their eyes while they wait for Tony to do his magic." Be forewarned, says Hale, Italian music is part of the mix, and Tony just might start singing!

Going once, going twice...sold!

As some readers might have noted, Magnolia in Scottsville went on the auction block March 7. Although owner Howie Velie has been mum about what went wrong, he has let Dish know that he and his staff are moving down the street to Willow Café, owned and operated by Velie's mother, Barbara Velie.

The Willow is open for breakfast and lunch every day, but now Howie will be serving up dinner Thursday through Sunday. According to Howie, Fridays will be Lobster Night and Sundays Fondue Night at the Willow. Although an ABC license is pending, Howie says that Willow will soon have a fine selection of beers and wines.

New good fortune: Lee's Grill recently opened up in the old Good Fortune space on the corner f