FOOD- It's true: Verity blue now on W. Main

Just over two years old, Charlottesville's European-style gourmet marketplace, The Main Street Market, is gearing up for its first major growth spurt. Passersby and customers have surely noticed recent signs of destruction and construction– disappearing walls and doors along the wing of garage bays, a row of cement columns flanking the east-side wall, a "somethin's going on in there" kind of look about the sealed-off corner space next to Feast! All part of life on blossoming, evolving West Main.

So– besides the Walker Square Apartments down the road and the still-to-open West Main- A Virginian Restaurant across the street– who else will be moving in?

Well, as Dish herself knows all too well, the Market is already loaded with goodies to eat at the table, but now it will also have an entire store that caters to the table itself– the "art of the table," that is.

Verity blue, a European-inspired home and garden store owned by Mark and Victoria Cave, will occupy five of the garage bays as well as an ample roof-deck, for a total of 3,000 square feet.

What is Verity blue? Both a business and a lifestyle, the Caves say. Married in Venice and in love with the European way of life– especially when it comes to food and the leisurely, artful enjoyment of it– the Caves decided in 2000 to leave the hustle-and-bustle of big city life in DC for the tranquility and history of New Market. There, in 2002, they opened Verity blue, a name which suggests the authenticity and beauty of their imported products.

Just two years later (in sync with the Market), the Caves were ready to hunt for a second location. With the help of a marketing consultant, they zeroed-in on Charlottesville because of its proven (and growing) interest in European-gourmet culture and artisanal products.

Hand-painted ceramics from Deruta, Italy, richly colored placemats, napkins, and tablecloths made from 100 percent European linen, and rustic hand-made pine tables are some of the items offered at the new Verity blue- all meant to enhance the dining experience and make eating more a shared art than a rushed necessity. Garden items will be on display on the roof deck, which will likely include a seating area.

Speaking of which, by June 1 the area now delineated by cement columns will become a communal outdoor seating area for the entire Market. A pergola and plexiglass roof will protect customers from both the elements and the adjacent parking lot.

But if you're more inclined to stand, then the Caves' new Italian-inspired coffee bar will surely be of interest.

"We feel the art of the table extends to the art of coffee, especially as seen in Italy," Mark tells Dish. Gelato and panini will be likely cappuccino companions.

Coffee is definitely a high-demand item at the Market, so it was only a matter of time before a serious coffee bar showed up. To satisfy constant requests, Feast! started selling brewed coffee two months ago, as does Albemarle Baking Co. Both plan to stop brewing once the new coffee bar opens, which should be sometime this summer.

But one thing Feast! does not plan to stop doing is growing. In fact, Feast! is responsible for a good chunk of the present construction. In order to make room for more wonderful cheeses, charcuterie items, organic meats, and produce, Kate Collier's emporium will be expanding to occupy the indoor space next door (behind Hedge) as well as the first garage bay. A wall will be knocked down to make one large, Feng shui-ruled space, which will absorb the items in the current gift shop (that space is currently up for lease and will be closed off.) The garage will cater primarily to Feast!'s growing catering business- now managed by chef Carrie Shaeffer.

"We're really looking forward to offering more grocery items and becoming more of a neighborhood market," Collier says.

Goings-on at the Market