Eyes on pies

 It's official: the former Papagallo space at Seminole Plaza across from Forest Lakes will house Pizza Bella North, according to Christine Manning, who co-owns the original southside Pizza Bella with her son, Willie Manning.

As is usual in the restaurant biz, things haven't moved along as quickly as the pair had hoped. Though Willie told Dish back in May that he was hoping for a July 1 opening, that date has obviously been pushed back.

"We want to open as soon as we can," reports Christine, who says they're now aiming for August 15, though she admits it could be as late as September 1 before everything's up and running.

Considering the population explosion north of town with Forest Lakes, Hollymead, and other family-attracting subdivisions, it seems to Dish that the Mannings have the right idea with a family friendly, affordable restaurant. Though Dish couldn't reach Papagallo's owner, former Farmington chef Jamie Darby, to ask him why his restaurant failed, we'll keep high hopes that Pizza Bella North won't suffer a similar fate. Christine says they will not host live music, as Papagallo did, and will instead focus on keeping the space which at approximately 3,800 square feet is twice the size of the southside store full of happy patrons eating tasty pies and pasta dishes.


Twisted Branch Tea House

 The zaniest addition to the downtown sipping scene, Twisted Branch Tea House, has slipped behind schedule a tea bag or two. Though owner Matteus Frankovich told Dish back in June that he hoped for a mid-July opening, he and his kettle master, El Duce, have had their work cut out for them.

The duo have done the vast majority of the renovation work on the building themselves, knocking out walls, building shelves and a bar, hooking up plumbing, and lugging in and displaying the artifacts that Frankovich has brought back from his extensive travel through the tea-producing regions of the world.

When Dish toured the space a month ago, a fabulous, purple, ceiling-height plaster of paris tree by local artist Rose Csorba was nearly complete, and the outdoor patio off the back was also nearing completion.

Though Frankovich and El Duce did not return our calls by deadline, a source doing some work on the building estimated it would be at least a couple of weeks until the first cup of Oolong could be served.


Starry eyed

 If all this talk about tea has you worried that your coffee fix could become a thing of the past, you might be jumping the gun just a tad.

Superchain Starbucks is betting that coffee won't be in any danger of disapearing with the opening of their latest store (the third in Charlottesville, joining brewing sites at Barnes & Noble and the Corner) in the annex to the Shoppers World Shopping Center just down from Mattress King.

The coffee spot opened Saturday, July 6, and offers everything you'd expect from a java giant: specialty coffee including lattes and espresso, tea, coffee accessories for sale including pots and mugs, and even games to play while you sip your Starbucks roast purchased by the pound.