Nick Rossicci and Maximo Mozo traveled through Europe to find the best recipes for tapas. Then they traveled through Richmond looking for the best place to share those ideas with guests. They've opened Maximo's Spanish Tapas & Authentic Italian Cuisine at 14 N. 18th St. and are hoping Richmond diners will respond to their classic versions of European fare meant for sharing. The menu is wide-ranging — salads, vegetarian tapas, meaty options such as pork loin sliders, beef carpaccio, chorizo in cherry sauce; cod and calamari fritters, anchovies, paella, osso bucco and pastas. Open Monday through Thursday noon – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon until 11 pm., closed Sunday. www.maximosbistro.com.
Nice Guys Finish
Viewing parties start next week at Stuzzi, where chef Clemenza Caserta is a contestant on the Fox television series, "Hell's Kitchen," which features caustic celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay as host. "Gordon is as crazy as he seems," Caserta says, "but is one of the best chefs you'll ever meet. He's inspiring, he pushes you to new levels, and he smells fantastic with the best cologne, so we always knew when he was coming." While Caserta can't reveal the competition's results, he says things already are changing for him, with opportunities to expand the Stuzzi pizza empire beyond the mother ship at 1 N. Belmont St. "People are definitely becoming a lot nicer," he adds.
To be a contestant, Caserta auditioned "for the privilege of a lifetime," he says. "You need guts. You've got to be willing to give up everything and everybody to do it, with no outside contact for six weeks. It's a humbling experience to work with someone so accomplished, and there's a world of stuff to learn from him."
One of the dishes Caserta prepared was a veal chop with prosciutto and fontina served with sautéed broccoli rabe; his specialty is rustic Italian cooking. The "Hell's Kitchen" series kicks off June 4 at 8 p.m., and Stuzzi will promote the show with parties and specials. 308-3295. stuzzirichmond.com.
Southern manners: Carter's Restaurant, a new business at 8906-G W. Broad St., promises "foods that please the soul." Owners Dannie and Dorothy Carter offer meatloaf, pot roast, liver and onions, fried chicken, chitterlings, pigs feet, oxtails and fish platters, with sides of potatoes, corn bread and Southern vegetables. Burgers, breakfast and hefty sandwiches also are served in the simple storefront cafe; the business is open daily. 270-0022.
New to WRIR: "America's Test Kitchen Radio" now airs on Richmond's independent radio station, WRIR-FM 97.3. Host Christopher Kimball and a group of test cooks talk technique, recipes and other kitchen how-to in a popular national series; it's a companion to a television show. Listen for it Friday mornings at 10 on the all-volunteer station. americastestkitchen.com.
Tasting at Secco: Chef Tim Bereika unveils a new four-course tasting menu at Secco Wine Bar on Sundays through Wednesdays, 5-9:30 p.m., for $28. The deal includes antipasto, two small plates and dessert from a menu that changes daily. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available; the staff is known for astute recommendations on wines. 353-0670. seccowinebar.com.
Highly rated: Arcadia, the Shockoe Bottom steakhouse, has been named one of America's most popular high-end restaurants by the website Urban Spoon. Chef Matthew Tlusty says it's a thrill to be named alongside big national names in the food world — "a nice boost to let our people know we're on the right track. We're really excited but we're still working and have good things coming." arcadiarichmond.com.
Dixie Donuts: Fancy cake doughnuts made in-house; local coffee. Takeout only. Open daily except Monday. 2901 W. Cary St. 359-1119.
Gelati Celesti: Second location of this popular handcrafted ice-cream business, 30 flavors of ice cream, with shakes, sundaes, cones, floats and splits. Open daily. 3004 Stony Point Road next to Martin's. 320-0000. gelatiicecream.com.
Cassie Keene hopes that Richmond's ready to embrace Korean food, and kimchee in particular. The pickled dish usually is served as a side, but when Keene launches the Kimchee Event on June 10, it takes on a starring role.
Local chefs Tim Bereika of Secco Wine Bar, Joe Sparatta of Pasture, John Maher of Spoon, Ryan Evans of Mint and Aaron Hoskins will create a multi-course meal for the event's 50 guests, using Keene's kimchee. She's preparing ramp, napa cabbage, daikon radish, watermelon rind and cucumber kimchee from recipes she's developed "to show the heart and soul of Korean food to Richmond," she says. "I assigned each chef and they came up with their takes, and their ideas are phenomenal. I think that people here are embracing new ideas and flavors and pop-up restaurants, and they trust these chefs to prepare something fabulous."
Tickets are $50 for a five-course sampling; they're available at Kitchen Thyme at 7801 W. Broad St. (kitchenthymerva.com), where the event takes place, and at the Empress at 2043 W. Broad St. The following week, Keene and chef friends appear at Broad Broad Appétit on June 3. Her longer-range plans include opening a Korean barbecue and Latin fusion restaurant to be named Gingko, once she finds the right Fan District location. It will be a casual affair with simple decor, a family table and foods that bridge cultures without relying on trendy ingredients.
Blending Latin foods comes naturally to the Korean-born 25-year-old, who's worked as baker and bartender at Palani Drive and a server at Can Can and the Empress. She frequents the city's Latin markets and looks for ways to combine culinary traditions in an accessible flavor profile that's "less intimidating, less spicy" than might be expected. She credits four Richmond food professionals as her heroes: Melissa Barlow, Carly Herring, Kendra Feather and Julia Battaglini, all of whom "are powerhouses, really influential, strong women," Keene says, who are setting a high standard here. Follow Keene's progress at gingkorva.com.
Kick with a hop: In a cycle-of-life move, Russell Bell of Ringer Farms in Mineral is running a Kickstarter campaign to support crops for local chefs. Known as Farmer Russell, he grows vegetables and fruits with sustainable, organic methods. For compost, he uses spent grains from the beer-making process at Hardywood Park Brewery. The campaign has a $7,000 goal to purchase a trailer for the grains, water barrels, shade screen and other farm needs before the May 25 deadline. ringerfarm.blogspot.com.
Word out: Some of the area's heat-focused food makers — hot sauces, salsas, marinades and dressings — got a new way to market their stuff last weekend. Mike Lampros, creator of Gunther's Gourmet, threw a party for grocery distributors, retailers and friends that put the stuff out there for sampling and future business.
Lampros and his brother Nick have grown the business from selling 1,000 cases of salsa a year to moving that much in a week; they know that the process of building a brand and distribution network is among a food start-up's biggest challenges.
"Anybody can bottle something," Mike Lampros says, "but selling the same product to a customer 10 times — that's harder. When you're small it's hard to get in front of people. So the idea was to get local and regional people together and get my buyers to meet them."
During an afternoon of tasting hot wings, chips and even candy, the collective presence of two dozen vendors attracted buyers for statewide grocery chains and smaller markets. Bloggers in the spice world went live with taste-test demonstrations, and guests tried not to burn themselves with products that raised capsaicin to new heights.
Food Cart Derby: You simply must get down to the city's first Food Cart Derby on Sunday, May 20, at 17th Street Farmers' Market in Shockoe Bottom from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. The vendors are prime, the music will make it a scene, and the folks involved are pumped to bring it all together. Here's the lineup:
Dressed and Pressed
Mister Softee RVA
Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream
RVA Vegan bike-powered cart
Olio Food Cart
Chef Kelly's Taqueria
Beers are from the following local breweries: Starr Hill, Devil's Backbone, Hardywood Park, Legend Brewery, Midnight, Lost Rhino, O'Connor, Roanoke Railhouse, Madd Fox, Wolf Hills Brewing, Bull and Bones, Big Daddy and Blue Lab.
A silent disco (involving DJs and listeners with wireless headphones), the bands Beast Wellington and Chicken & Corn and other entertainment make this event "everything that people have been wanting — a food court is so much better with music and beer," says Ben Petty, a former bartender here now with Brown Distributing. Look for something similar at the new Turning Basin market, when food vendors join local breweries on Thursday afternoons.
To no one's surprise, another frozen yogurt shop has opened in a city still reeling from over-cupcaking. There's a difference with this one — the juice bar — which is something Richmond has mostly lacked. Mix It Frozen Yogurt & Juice Bar sells shots of wheat-grass, carrot, orange, apple and pineapple juices in various combinations; all are fresh squeezed, averaging $4-$5 for a 12-ounce drink. Owners Dustin Smith and Amanda Leininger opened their shop last month, offering acai bowls (berries with granola and fruits), smoothies, cereals, and frozen yogurt from a local farm, sweetened with local honey. Flavors for the chunky-style yogurt change weekly, and Smith says triple chocolate and cheesecake are early favorites.
The self-service format has seating for about 55 inside and out, and is wisely positioned near the Children's Museum of Richmond branch and a four-story gym, which opens later this year in West Broad Village. Mix It serves daily at 2235 Old Brick Road. 360-3562. Mixitfroyo.com.
More juice: Customers looking for a wider range of fresh-squeezed juice drinks, including organic kale, celery and other vegetables, will find them at Good Foods Grocery at Gayton Crossing Shopping Center. goodfoodsgrocery.com.
Ellwood Thompson's also carries fresh organic juices, wheatgrass shots and various fruit and veggie smoothies in its newly expanded coffee shop. ellwoodthompsons.com
Travel with Sheep: It's no secret that the Travel Channel's worldly eater Adam Richman loves The Black Sheep in Richmond's Carver district, with a special affection for co-owner Amy Hess. He's featured their food before, and returned for more videotaping last month. The restaurant's CSS Virginia sandwich with chicken livers is one of Richman's picks for 30 best sandwiches in the country, and will be featured in a new series that premieres on the cable network on June 6.
Simple minded: With the mint shortage that's striking bars all over (and this follows the chartreuse shortage earlier this year), a local product hopes to fill the void. Susan Martinson's Keep It Simple Syrup, an additive-free, spearmint-infused mixer, is behind the bar at Kitchen 64, Julep's, Mint New Casual Cuisine, Kenn-Tico, Millie's, Palani Drive, Cafe Caturra and at ABC stores and local natural foods markets. Martinson spent three years developing the product, which retails for $13.50, and says it's been a challenging opportunity. Advice for other startups: "Stick with it and keep learning, and don't give up your vision. There's no reason to take shortcuts. You want to stand before your product comfortably." Mixologists are using it in mojitos, juleps, teas and other drinks, while Martinson sets to work on the next infusion flavor.
Kitchen dance at Pescados China Street: A new culinary team at this Oregon Hill seafood destination promises customer-focused changes, especially a three-course tasting menu for $25 and a special plate for Oregon Hill residents. Chef Trevor "Sparky" Knotts, sous chef Sean McGee — a Portland, Ore., trained Washington transplant — and Matthew Guhl, Will Perry and George Cavarria work the line with co-owner chef Todd Manley. Pescadoschinastreet.com
New menu at Sensi: Pastas, chops, steak, seafood and vegetarian choices are on the menu at this Shockoe Bottom standout. Daily risotto and a five- or seven-course tasting menu ($45 and $65 with wine pairings additional) offer a full range of Italian and other flavors. 2222 E. Cary St. 648-3463.
Ettamae's Cafe, opened two years ago in Jackson Ward by chef Matthew Morand and his sister Laura Morand Bailey, will close after Mother's Day. They've looked at other locations and are considering options, but for now their well-regarded desserts and other Southern fare are going out of business with a week of specials. 522 N. 2nd St. 888-8058. ettamaescafe.com.
The Dixie Chicken: Takeout with breakfast biscuits, pork belly sandwich, fried chicken, Southern sides, pulled pork barbecue. Open Monday through Saturday; call-in orders advised. 1203 Westover Hills Blvd. 837-0935. Thedixiechicken.com.
Buz and Ned's II: New, larger second location for famous pulled-pork barbecue, ribs, brisket, sides. Outdoor dining, party room, bar. Lunch and dinner daily. 8205 W. Broad St. 346-4227. Buzandneds.com.
Parkside Café: New menu with pastas, meats, seafood, chicken burrito, salads. Lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday; dinner Tuesday and Wednesday. 3514 Forest Hill Ave. 864-8888. Parksiderva.com.
Miso Asian Grill: Health-conscious Asian fusion with full bar and lounge, sushi bar in family-run business, Fredericksburg offshoot. Lunch and dinner daily. 3601-A Cox Road. 747-6888. Misoasiangrill.com.
You know there's a culinary renaissance in Dog Town when you see pork belly biscuits and Lamplighter coffee listed on a neighborhood takeout menu. That's happening at Dixie Chicken, a home-cooking business that opened three weeks ago in a former coffee shop in Westover Hills. This is chef Todd Brady's go-to-meetin' playbook: fried chicken, grandma-style collards, green beans and hoppin' john, pulled-pork barbecue and fresh lime- and lemonades. Maybe desserts will follow.
The chef, formerly of LA Grill and the Country Club of Virginia, among other kitchens, gets to wear overalls now, working a punishing breakfast, lunch and dinner schedule with a day of rest Sunday. His down-home food agenda gets a surprise or two, such as an Alsatian style mushroom soup and an occasional soft-shell crab sandwich; the smoked pork belly also is served as a sandwich with slaw.
Brady and co-owner Sheila Wilkins grew up on the Eastern Shore and in Amelia County, respectively, and learned to love and cook the same kinds of foods — she bakes the biscuits and runs the operation; he works the line solo, breading the chicken with his secret spicy blend and frying it to order with peanut oil. Neighbors are packing it for picnics in Forest Hill Park or maybe transferring from the clamshell boxes onto grandma's china.
Combo meals are less than $6; takeout chicken with biscuits is $15 for eight pieces. Because it's a small place still working out the logistics, call-in orders are advised. 1203 Westover Hills Blvd. 837-0935. Thedixiechicken.com.
Chefs on the move: Abram Jackson (Selba) is now cooking at Sette; Paris-trained, Washington and personal chef William Harik is heading the kitchen at Selba; Chris Herrington (Patina Grill) is at Parkside Café; Aaron Hoskins, who introduced a menu at the Empress and left two weeks later, is filling in at Secco Wine Bar and elsewhere.
Cupcake kicker: Dawn Schick, owner of Grace Manor Inn and Carytown Cupcakes, is running a Kickstarter campaign to build a new space for the cupcake biz next to Galaxy Diner. Carytown-cupcakes.com.
Buz and Ned's II: New, larger, second location for famous pulled-pork barbecue, ribs, brisket, sides. Outdoor dining, party room, bar. Lunch and dinner daily. 8205 W. Broad St. 346-4227. Buzandneds.com.
Parkside Café: New menu and chef with pastas, meats, seafood, chicken burrito, salads. Lunch and dinner Thursday-Sunday; dinner Tuesday and Wednesday. 3514 Forest Hill Ave. 864-8888. Parksiderva.com.