Angelo Vangelopoulos, Ivy Inn’s owner and executive chef, is likely one of the most beloved and respected cooks in Charlottesville. His careful and outstanding American cuisine denotes Mediterranean flavors, and the feast takes place in an upscale, classic atmosphere with very attentive and knowledgeable staff.
For over a century, patrons have found comfort in this historic building nestled in the heights of the Meadowlands. Once a writer’s residence, it opened in the 1870’s as a stagecoach inn. Travelers in horse and carriage along Polifly Road stopped here to eat and drink in the tavern below, and sleep in one of six guest quarters above. After the turn of the 20th century, the inn evolved into a fine dining restaurant (a popular speakeasy during Prohibition), but eventually fell into disrepair. In 1996, the current owners undertook an extensive restoration. The fireplaces in the dining rooms and cherry beams were uncovered and repaired. The horseshoe bar was re-veneered, and the oak icebox (dated 1912) was refurbished. They brought to life this elegant, historic site and the inn once again opened its doors for fine dining, renamed Ivy Inn.
Their traditional shrimp and grits are incredibly tasty and the different homemade pastas (both ravioli and fettuccine) are superb. However, the flagships are the duck liver terrine and the duet of lamb and gyro, a delicious wink to the Greek origin of Vangelopoulos. If you lean more toward a fish main, try the pan-seared wild Chesapeake rockfish with greens and local goods.
They also have a large wine menu with American wines and some ports to go with dessert. Save room for sweets if you can! The trio of chocolates or the lemon meringue will be the cherry on top of a dinner to remember, all in immaculate white tablecloths.
Phone: (434) 977-1222
Hours: Mon-Sun from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Text and photo: Edu Bayer