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The Jerk Pit; Rivah Bistro 

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Spicy jerk chicken, curried goat, fruity drinks and other Caribbean specialties can be had at this 9-month-old, family-managed restaurant. This clean, bright little place is a real find; it's great for a casual lunch or for picking up a home-cooked dinner. Nearly everything at the Jerk Pit is made to order, so bring a newspaper or book and be prepared to wait. There are daily specials ($6.99 to $10.99) typical of the Jamaican table: braised oxtails, red snapper seasoned with garlic and thyme, curried goat and curried chicken. A section called Lite Fare includes Mango Walk Salad ($6.49), a melange of spicy curried chicken on a bed of greens topped with mango chutney and homemade vinaigrette. Also in the light category is The Pit Pocket: spicy grilled chicken in a pita pocket with a side of homemade potato salad ($4.59). There are also chicken, shrimp, veggie or combo kebabs ($5.99 to $7.49), served over seasoned rice. Other regional specialties include jerk chicken ($3.99 to 7.49) or succulent jerk pork ($3.99 to $6.99). One of my favorite offerings is the Combo Caribe, which includes your choice of jerk chicken or jerk pork, with rice and peas, steamed vegetables and a Jamaican soda ($7.49). If you're not a fan of spicy food, go for The Maroon Melt ($5.59), a hefty, comforting sandwich consisting of grilled chicken and melted cheese on a soft Jamaican-style bun called coco bread. — Sally Belk King

The Jerk Pit
2713 W. Broad St.
Lunch and dinner Monday -Saturday
353-7755

Rivah Bistro is an everyday place, think Cafe Rick and "Casablanca" on casual Friday. The most interesting contributions to Richmond's culinary palate are the Moroccan dishes: merguez, a soft and warmly spiced Moroccan lamb sausage served with a smokey tomato coulis, and harissa — not always on the menu — an all-purpose puree of pepper, oil, garlic, coriander and cumin, that is transformed into a soup. Unfortunately, this is where Morocco ends.

They also make some delicious and fresh desserts ($4 - $7), like fresh sorbet shaped into a small pyramid and capped with a delicate chocolate shell, and a vanilla creme brulee that is absolutely a point.

The rest of the menu is a tour of comforts both French and Italian, comfortably priced from $10 to $18: onion soup, nicely gratineed; pork loin with baked apples; baked chicken (an occasional special) with mashed potatoes and jus deglaze; plus a range of scallopine-cut veal and chicken in a variety of styles and sauces — saltimboca, Toscan, cognac and Marsala. — Patrick Getlein

Rivah Bistro
1417 E. Cary St.
344-8222
www.rivahbistro.com
Monday - Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday - Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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