FOOD- THE DISH- Crazy for cakes: Bakery makes its Downtown debut

Dotty and Frank Cappellino mixing it up before the big opening.

We have some sweet news for you this week. Cappellino's Crazy Cakes, the gourmet bakery planned on the Downtown Mall, finally opened on Tuesday, June 10. Ever since we first wrote about Crazy Cakes in April, people have been calling and emailing to ask us when the new sweet shop would open. 

In fact, co-owner Dotty Cappellino tells us that her brother, Frank, a Florida cake designer who moved here to open the shop with her, got four cake designing jobs from Hook referrals before the shop even opened. Needless to say, it appears that Mall mavens have a serious sweet tooth, one that Crazy Cakes is finally here to satisfy.

"We're very excited," says Dotty Cappellino, busy making cupcakes in the new kitchen space three days before the opening, and describing an anxiety dream she had the night before. "Yes, we'll finally be open on Tuesday, if I'm still alive," she jokes.

Indeed, it's been a long road to their new spot on Third Street, across from Fleurie and the side entrance to Rapture. It all started a few years ago when Dotty began making pound cakes for her co-workers at World Strides.

They were so enamored they suggested she try to sell them. Around the same time, her aging parents, both with Alzheimer's, had entered a nursing home in her native Pittsburgh, so the extra income was welcome. Eventually, the Greenwood Store and Foods of All Nations began carry Dotty's pound cakes. Last December, Dotty says, Foods sold 90 of them. 

On the foundation of that success, Dotty came up with the idea of opening a bakery. "I noticed that Charlottesville, especially the Downtown Mall, didn't have a bakery that really cared about quality, not just quantity. I also thought there was a market here for my brother's artistically designed cakes."

So Dotty convinced Frank, who already had a successful business in Florida, to pull up his vanilla beans and join her. "I needed his moral support if I was going to do this," she says.

His confidence probably didn't hurt either. In April, Frank predicted that their shop would be "one of the hottest little places in the Charlottesville area." Indeed, if the cookie and cupcake samples we've tried are any indication, the siblings are going to have a hard time keeping the display window filled.

In the end, however, opening Crazy Cakes appears to have been a labor of love. 

"The whole thing was really inspired by a desire to make my dad proud," Dotty says, "even though he doesn't know it, and can't appreciate it. It was something for me to focus on, to keep my mind off their situation."

New Forest Lakes Farmer's market is magically delicious

The new Forest Lakes Farmers Market debuted on June 3. The grand opening was a blast featuring live music and a magician to keep little veggie lovers enthusiastic. Dozens of shoppers came out to get the first scrumptious bite of locally grown groceries and the first pick of pretty plants. The market will operate every Tuesday, 4-7pm, in the South Recreational Facility parking area at 1650 Ashwood Boulevard.

The new market is a joint effort between the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Forest Lakes Homeowners Association.

"We commend the Forest Lakes HOA for taking the initiative to make this market happen," writes Melissa Wiley, PEC Director of Special Projects, in a release. "PEC is happy to help link local farmers and vendors with the HOA to make this a successful Market."

Is Spudnuts #1?

Probably— according to the UVA grad whose donut blog, the, covers the round objects of desire from coast to coast. NBC29 picked up on his latest list of 13 great donut shops. But we couldn't help but notice that the artful blogger, despite waxing poetic about Spudnuts in 2006, somehow left that potato-flour emporium off his original top-ten list. Apparently blogger Bret Stetka received a barrage of comments from Spudnuts lovers urging him to place the store on the list.

That's good news for the Belmont spudnuttery, whose hard-working owner and patriarch, Richard Wingfield, passed away in 2005. (Wingfield and Spudnuts were the subject of the 2003 documentary, Still Life with Donuts: Natural History of a Neighborhood, written and directed by Mark Edwards and Mary Michaud, in which Wingfield comes off as a kind of unofficial mayor of the gentrifying neighborhood.) At the time, Wingfield's daughter, Lori, and her husband appeared weary at the prospect of keeping her father's store open.   

"We're trying," she told the Hook. "My husband has his own business on top of this, but we're going to try to keep things going." 

Three years later, it appears that Spudnuts has lost none of its appeal.

"With its retro charm and quirky cast of locals, it might be the perfect mom-and-pop doughnut shop," writes Stetka. "But be warned. Spudnuts' mastery of potato flour manipulation yields a dangerously fleeting enjoyment: their ultra-light raised glazed doughnuts disappear instantly like cotton candy, making mass-consumption nearly unavoidable."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

So long, Oakencroft

Felicia Warburg Rogan, the former New Yorker whose 1983 foray into viticulture on Garth Road touched off a multi-million-dollar Albemarle industry, plans to retire and sell the 250-acre farm on which her award-winning Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery sits. Sadly, Rogan says the new owners are not likely to keep the winery open. And who are the spoilsports? 

Rogan's not telling. "No one knows, and no one will ever know who the land is going to," she snaps. "It was a very tough decision, but it was time."

Still, the matriarch of the Virginia wine business says she plans to remain active in promoting the fruit of Virginia's vines.

All this food news was first reported online. Check it out at