FOOD-THE DISH- Christian's everywhere! Multiple shops open, and late night on the Corner

The new Corner Christian's Pizza should be open as this hits the stands– and will be the first late-night Christian's, serving up slices until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

As alert readers have noticed, Christian's Pizza has multiplied. All at once, it seems, the popular Downtown pizza joint is everywhere! Indeed, that was owner Christian Tamm's plan– to open three new Christian's around town simultaneously.

And he almost did it. While locations on Pantops (right behind the DMV) and on Route 29 (just past Target on the left) have been up and running, the location on the Corner (in the old Amigos spot near the corner of 14th and University Avenue) has been delayed. However, according to Andrew Vaughan, who is partnering with Tamm in the expansion, the Corner location should be open now. 

"Hopefully, we'll be opening this week," said Vaughan. "This will be the first Christian's with late-night hours, and we hope to draw a nice crowd of late-night folks."

Indeed, the Corner Christian's will be joining Littlejohn's and the White Spot as the places to be for after-hours munchies. Vaughan says the Corner location will be open until 2am Sunday through Thursday and until 3am Friday and Saturday. 

The Mayor's favorite 

Dish couldn't help but notice that on his blog, Mayor David Brown lists Aqui es Mexico as his new favorite restaurant. Indeed, Dish has a soft spot for the Mexican-Salvadoran eatery on Carlton Road, which has raised the level of Mexican cuisine locally to southwestern standards. 

"I love to cook," says Brown, "and my current favorite cookbook is Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless. Aqui es Mexico reminds me of that food– more authentic, I guess. But having never been to Mexico, I can't quite say that. A great change from the heavy, cheesy, tomato-y Mexican at other places."

Rest assured, Mr. Mayor, people who've been to Mexico would share your opinion, as the cuisine at Aqui es Mexico has struck many seasoned travelers as quite authentic.

"I also like Bizou, especially for lunch," says Brown. Dish has noticed that Bizou has become the hot lunch spot for local heavyweights. It's not uncommon to see a panorama of familiar faces lunching on assorted greens and Bizou's signature meat loaf.

"I also like Orzo, Bang, Boheme, Zocalo, the Blue Moon Diner... so many places. Marco and Luca, the bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit at Café Cubano. What a great town for food!" 

So where do our city councilors chow down? Do they get together for a bite after a rousing city council session?

"Kendra [Hamilton] and I go out occasionally," says Brown. "C & O, more often than not."

UVA's $58 million restaurant tab!

UVA's Weldon Cooper Center recently issued a report on the University's economic impact on the area, and Dish couldn't help but notice the restaurant and bar tab the UVA crowd rang up. 

No wonder our dining culture is so rich– in 2005, faculty and staff spent over $10 million on food and drink, students spent $18 million in restaurants and bars, and folks coming to visit students, faculty, and staff spent over $30 million. That's $58 million a year fed to area eateries! And that's not counting the rest of us! 

Top chefs

According to Michael Keaveny, manager of Coran Capshaw's restaurant group, Blue Light Grill's executive chef, Reed Anderson, received an offer he couldn't refuse– a job offer in Tuscany. As a result, Keaveny says he's recruiting for a new executive chef. Those will be tough shoes to fill.

Anderson a New England Culinary Institute graduate who apprenticed at the Fuse Box in Atlanta and the famous Pearl in Nantucket, was the driving force behind the creation of Blue Light, which helped to trigger a veritable renaissance of upscale dining on the Mall. 

Keaveny also reports that Ten's head chef, Brian Emperor, has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City in October. For chefs, that's a lot like being a minor league ballplayer who gets to play in Yankee Stadium for the first time. 

But, believe it or not, it's not the first time a local chef has been invited to the Beard House. Back in July, chef Melissa Close of Palladio at Barboursville Vineyards was invited to create a "wine makers" dinner with Barboursville's winemaker, Luca Paschina. Apparently, it's not Close's first visit to the famous cuisine Mecca; she was also invited to the Beard House in 2002 and 2004.

Patio delights at Orzo

Dish has heard from several folks who love Orzo's new nighttime covered patio seating. Indeed, according to Orzo co-owner Ken Wooten, they recently added 25 seats under the Main Street Market's covered patio. They also added ceiling fans, shades, iron railings, music, and planter boxes of fragrant herbs and flowers. 

"It's very beautiful and romantic," says Wooten. "And correct me if I'm wrong, but I can only think of one other covered patio in town... the one at L'Etoile."