FOOD- THE DISH- High Street gem: La Michoacana deli wows fans

Jose Gaono, his wife, Elpidia, and their daughter, Myra, work the counter at La Michoacana Deli, a new Mexican place in an unlikely spot on High Street.

About a month ago, a large sign appeared on a small office building on East High Street: La Michoacana Deli. It seemed like such an unlikely spot for a restaurant that we drove by it several times before curiosity got the better of us. Was this place for real?

Inside we found owner Jose Gaono, his wife, Elpidia, and their daughter, Myra, preparing food for the day. Gaono told us he had cooked for many years in Mexico and had been operating a small catering business out of his home in North Garden for the last three years. And despite the unusual spot, Gaono has still managed to capture the attention of local foodies. 

Indeed, Hamiltons' at First & Main owner Bill Hamilton recently raved to us about La Michoacana, and during our own visit we realized why– homemade tacos, tamales, enchiladas, gorditas, and more– and nothing over $8. 

According to Gaono, the tacos and tamales are what his customers seem to love most, but from what we could tell– and taste– there are a few other authentic Mexican dishes you might just fall for.

La Michoacana: 1138 High St. 434-409-994. Hours: M–Th, 10am-9pm. F-Sat, 11am-11pm. Sun, 11am-9pm.

Milano in the Pink and offering more

Four years ago last Sunday, Italophiles Mark and Victoria Cave opened the espresso and gelato bar Milano in the West Main Market to accompany their Italian-inspired home and garden store, Verity Blue. According to Mark Cave, the idea was to create "an authentic Italian experience" for folks by contrasting Verity Blue's "rustic, Tuscan aesthetic" with Milano's "more modern, industrial style." In addition, former Dish author and Italian profesori Christina Ball teamed up with the Caves to open her Ecco Italy language and culture center in the West Main space, creating Charlottesville's own Little Italy.

On July 3, however, Milano, Verity Blue, and Ecco Italy all moved into the famed Pink Warehouse on South Street, and– more important to foodies– began offering more than espresso and gelato. Unfortunately, despite a big party to celebrate the move, it seems that many people don't know that Milano has an expanded menu.

In fact, the Caves brought in well-known cooking instructor and former enoteca chef Marisa Catalano to create the new menu, and hired manager Clinton Jones to turn Milano into a full-fledged restaurant.

According to Jones, Milano is now serving both breakfast and lunch (don't worry, they're still serving espresso, gelato, and sweets) with an Italian flair-– i.e. panino, tramezzino, etc. In addition, Jones says their luscious desserts will be available all day and they're open seven days a week, 7am-9pm.

"The place really looks beautiful," Jones says.

Jinx scores again nationally

There's been yet another accolade for the tiny-but-tasty barbecue-ry on East Market Street. This time– just a couple of months after a nod from the Wall Street Journal— it's the 2008 Maxim Food Awards, found in the August edition, the one with Amber Heard on the cover. Here, the popular lad mag offers its "definitive guide to the world's tastiest things." And the world's best pulled-pork sandwich is found at– Jinx's Pit's-Top Barbecue! "For a mere $4.50," says Maxim, "this juicy 'sammich' on Texas toast will transport your mouth to the Mississippi Delta."

Local Starbucks shops safe from the axe

On July 17, Starbucks released the full list of the 600 shops it will close, and none are in Charlottesville. The five Virginia stores shutting down are all in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

 Stafford's cooking camp for kids

Forget football or soccer camp– why not send your precious little ones to cooking camp this summer? For all your aspiring foodies, the Charlottesville Cooking School's Martha Stafford has announced plans for a "Farm to Table" summer camp for kids age 9 and up from July 28 to August 1. 

The goal of the camp, says Stafford, is to "learn about cooking and eating well by understanding what is grown and available locally at this time of year." There will be two farm visits plus lessons in cooking skills, table setting, and menu planning. A healthy snack, lunch, recipe book and an apron are included. The week will be capped with a final feast and campers will be able to invite one guest. The cost is $300 per camper. Call the school at 434-963-COOK for more information. 

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