Charlottesville Breaking News

Roman spring: Bella's readies for Friday opening

 

The bar will be complete, the tables and chairs set up, and the staff ready to debut Bella's. The Roman cuisine restaurant at 707 West Main Street opens to the public Friday, March 23, and the place was abuzz during the countdown.

 

"I'm just happy to share Bella's with my fellow Charlottesvillians," says general manager and native son Justin Heilbrun-Toft. "They'll find something Charlottesville doesn't have: authentic Roman Italian."

Owners Douglas Muir and his wife Valeria "Bella" Bisenti aim to provide the intimate, yet family-style dining she grew up with in Rome, with family-size portions available.

So what to order? Specialties recommended by staff include the Calamari Fritti, Zuppa di Pesce, a shrimp-mussels-calamari-clams medley served on fettucine, and Porchetta— pork belly stuffed with fennel, rosemary, sage, and garlic and slow roasted. And start your evening with a Negroni, that classic gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari apertif.

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Goose droppings: Okay to drink the water, officials say

If you live near Crozet, you might want to know that goose-droppings are going into your drinking water. That's the bad news. The good news is that authorities say they're dealing with it.

Beaver Creek Reservoir, the primary water supply for Crozet, is arguably the area's most beautiful body of water with 104 acres set against a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop to make it popular with anglers, rowers, and picnickers. And another group has discovered its charms: a flock of some six dozen or more Canada geese, who, on a recent February morning, were feeding on grassroots while keeping wary eyes on passersby.

The once-migratory birds have been targeted by the Federal Aviation Administration as a menace since some got sucked into both engines of US Air's Miracle on the Hudson River flight with 155 passengers aboard. Closer to home and more recently, around 90 of the Canada geese residing in the Forest Lakes n...

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Eating, easy: Dinner at Home takes away the work

It's the plight of many a harried family: how to provide healthy meals while juggling the demands of jobs, school, sports, and other time-devouring extracurriculars. Enter Ashley East, a former personal chef who founded her catering company, Dinner at Home, back in 2003 and has recently seen her business expand thanks to a commercial kitchen she's installed in a West Market Street storefront.

"The location is awesome," exclaims East, a tall and willowy runner and cyclist, who moved the business in November into the former Ananda alternative treatment space adjacent to the Artful Lodger furniture store.

East, who earned her culinary certificate from Cookery at the Grange in Somerset England and trained under chefs at local upscale restaurants including Clifton Inn, now works alongside her husband and business partner, Carter, to cater events ranging from intimate lunches to 200-guest weddings. But the dinner-to-go service has really taken off.

Foot traffic from Vinegar Hill theatergoers has helped boost the customer base to about 80 people who receive weekly emailed menus from which they can order two, three, or four nights of meals for up to five people. Admittedly, this is no drive-thru priced dinner, as two nights of dinner-for-two cost $90, and three nights of dinner-for-four would set you back $216.

Still, Eas...

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Russell's victory: Campus crime bill becomes law

After several years spent fighting to change the way the most serious crimes on college campuses are investigated, activist Susan Russell will at last see part of her wish fulfilled as a watered-down version of the bill inspired by her daughter's alleged rape at the University of Virginia has unanimously passed both the Virginia House and Senate.

"We are very glad to see some change has come from our efforts," says Russell, who became an advocate for campus safety after her daughter, Kathryn, reported being raped in 2004 by a fellow UVA student who was never charged with any crime, even after a second alleged victim came forward.

Russell and others impacted by crime at UVA, including sexual assault victim Liz Seccuro and the parents of slain Virginia Tech studen...

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Nell Casey: Swimming through Spalding Gray

Around 2007, Kathleen Russo, widow of monologuist Spalding Gray, approached author Nell Casey about writing Gray’s autobiography. Gray, who committed suicide in 2004, spent his career publicly, nakedly chronicling his life in monologues like Swimming to Cambodia.

Casey asked herself: Had Gray already said everything onstage?

The answer: a resounding no. The journals showed her that there much more than the man's famous monologues. “It wasn't possible for Gray to chronicle or confess all aspects of his life publicly," says Casey, "but privately he did so.”

She also quickly realized something else: that the journals “are not only generously written, they are gorgeously written.”

The avalanche of new material was only the beginning as Casey, now 41, drew upon sources ranging from audiotapes of Gray's therapy sessions, she says, to random notes written on scraps of paper, like “an Amtrak napkin and a breast cancer pamphlet.”

Gray’s brothers and his colleagues aided Casey. His widow allowed herself to be presented “as flawed and criticized” as anyone else under Gray's powerful pen.

The result was The Journals of Spalding Gray, published in 2011. Casey, the daughter of local author John Casey, had previously explored despondent authors’ lives in her 2002 book, Unholy Ghost, a collection of essays by writers who had survived depression.

An editor approached Casey with that book’s concept...

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