“The promise of a good menu gets people into restaurants, but great service keeps them coming back,” reads a review of The Local in Charlottesville’s city paper C-VILLE. This could easily be the motto of The Local, a charming restaurant in the Belmont neighborhood that offers an upscale version of the comfort food for which Virginia is famous. The Local has two sister restaurants across the street, the Local Smokehouse and the brand new Junction, both of which offer full service to weddings and events.
Executive chef Matthew Hart is the captain of The Local’s carefully run ship. “Our food is locally sourced as much as the seasons allow, and we work closely with farmers and local craftsmen. We like to treat the ingredients with respect,” he says of the restaurant’s ethos. The menu is a culinary spectrum that includes steak and whole fish as well as pasta and vegetarian options, but Hart has his favorites. “Our famous french fries, delectable salads and popular crispy shrimp enchant the most discerning diners,” he told us. Among the daily specials were a house-made fettuccine with candied artichokes, a rack of lamb with crispy fried eggplant, and a grilled beef tenderloin with red wine sauce. The selection of desserts is lush, but our pick is the banana split: a trio of homemade ice creams over caramelized bananas with shaved almonds.
At the bar, the generous beverage selection includes fine scotch and other whiskies alongside wines from local and international wineries. The lengthy drink menu also lists an array of draft and bottled beers from national and local craft breweries and cocktails created by The Local’s award-winning and skillful bartenders.
Over the years the spacious building, built in 1912, has served many businesses ranging from a church, a general store, a furniture store, a motorcycle shop, a pool hall, and most recently, a photography studio. The upstairs has always served as an apartment until it was renovated for the restaurant. Now, as a dining room, the space retains its cozy feeling with a beautiful wood stove. Monday evenings are particularly special, as each week the restaurant hosts performances by local singer-songwriters. See you there!
Hours: Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10. Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm
Text&Photo: Edu Bayer