FOOD- THE DISH- Purple people feeder: Main Street Market grows

Charles Roumeliotes puts the final touches on Calvino Cafe, which opened in the Main Street Market this week, as its namesake strikes a pensive pose in a photo behind him.

The Main Street Market, that large purple building on the east end of West Main, which has become its own little foodie universe (Feast!, Orzo, Seafood at West Main, Albemarle Baking Company, The Organic Butcher, Hedge the florist, the Seasonal Cook, and Gearharts' Fine Chocolates all call it home), welcomes a new tenant this week– Calvino Cafe. 


Named in honor of the late Italian writer, Italo Calvino, whose work one of the co-owners and his future wife had both been reading when they met (hence the significance), the new Italian-themed cafe is taking the place of the previous Italian-themed cafe, Milano, which moved to the pink warehouse on South Street. 

"We've always had a passion for coffee," says co-owner Charles Roumeliotes, who, along with his partner Ken Wooten (the Calvino reader), opened Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar right next door just two years ago. "When Milano moved, we decided the timing was perfect for us. "

Roumeliotes and Wooten have totally renovated the small space, which features warm earth-tone colors and natural wood, a small, light-filled seating area, and a cozy bar. And Roumeliotes says there will eventually be an outdoor seating area when a new awning gets attached to the building. 

Of course, in addition to coffee from Shenandoah Joe, the restaurateurs couldn't help creating a food menu as well, which will feature gourmet breakfast paninis (think egg, roasted peppers, and Italian sausage grilled in one of their fancy new panini grills) and flatbread wraps made with bread from the nearby Albemarle Baking Company. Oh, and they've also created a smoothie menu.




Winky's has original Big Jim BBQ, Fellini's now has lunch

If you're feeling hungry, Dish has a couple of news items you might be interested in. First off, Juanita "Winky" Hunt, who revived Big Jim's on Angus Road and re-named it Winky's, tells us that they are now serving the original Big Jim's BBQ. As was previously reported, Brent Lunnen bought Big Jim's old catering operation on 10th Street, and, according to Hunt, he's hired Big Jim's old cook and cooked up some BBQ with the same recipe.

"We sampled a bit of it the other day," says Hunt, "and it's just like the original."

Second, it appears that Fellini's #9 on the Downtown Mall is now serving lunch. There's a choice of salad, pasta, and bread option for $7.95 that includes a choice of spaghetti and meatballs or plain sauce, lasagna, cannelloni, and shrimp with linguine. There are also antipasti like caprese and bruschetta, and desserts like tiramisu, carrot cake, cheese cake, and a gelato of the day.


Can't decide where to eat?

Let the Hook's online Foodfinder decide for you! While the ole' Foodfinder ( has hundreds of restaurant listings (and reviews and ratings...which we need more of people!), searching through them all to find a place to eat can be overwhelming. So we've added a little random search function. Just click the link and see what the Charlottesville food god's serve up. Nothing strike your fancy? Hit the random search button again in the upper right-hand corner of the page for a fresh selection. Okay, so it ain't Google Earth... but we think it's pretty nifty.


Some openings

A new Chinese restaurant called Asia Specialty is opening in the old Bohème space on Market Street, across from City Hall, and will be offering both take-out and dine-in service seven days a week. But don't expect your typical American Chinese food, as the owners say they want to introduce folks to the real thing, such as a Chinese firepot, also known as a Mongolian firepot, in which you cook meat and vegetables yourself in a pot of hot soup stock– kinda like Chinese fondue. 

The Café at Monticello is now open in the new Monticello visitor's center. For years, visitors had few choices at the Little Mountain Luncheonette, a small stand serving a limited menu of snacks and sandwiches.

The new place is being run by Brix Terrace Café owner/chef Karen Laetare, known for her delicious Mediterranean/California-style food (bruschetta, paninis, antipasti platters), as well as her homemade Italian pastries. Look for the cuisine quality bar to be raised considerably at Monticello, a development that TJ himself would surely welcome.