Restaurant News: Fired Up for Flavor

A FEAST of local restaurant openings, expansions and moves are heating up our dining just in time for summer
Nando's Peri Peri Chicken

They’ve Arrived…

Nando’s (photo above)
Virginia Beach
If you haven’t tried peri-peri, Nando’s is the place to prime your palate for the tongue-tingling African bird’s eye chili. This multinational fast-casual eatery founded over three decades ago in Johannesburg just landed in Virginia Beach Town Center. Feast on flame-grilled chicken marinated and basted in the kicky capsicum, finished to your piquancy preference from mildish to earth-scorching. It’s a vibrant venue (art created by emerging African artists fostered by Nando’s decorates each bespoke outlet) with a prominent handbasin, a company hallmark predating Covid, to encourage community among guests. Shareables include spicy olives, haloumi sticks and hummus plus sides like minted mashed peas, nodding to Nando’s numbering most in England. Per management, “You can stand on any London street corner and see another down the block just like Starbucks.” NandosPeriPeri.com

The Roads Bistro, Virginia Beach
Michael Baldwin unabashedly shares that he modeled his handsome Roads Bistro, opened in February, after Pacifica. “It’s just the perfect place,” he gushes about the Oceanfront hotspot where he tended bar for a dozen years. “It brings in everybody from business suits for high-end meetings to dudes off the beach in flip-flops.” Along with chef Dion White (another Pacifica alum) and partners Art Marks and Dan Cunningham, he aims to mimic Pacifica’s mood and food—an inclusive bar-bistro where strangers strike up conversations over Americanized tapas and classic cocktails—only somewhere else: Virginia Beach’s unassuming neighborhood near TCC (intersection of Princess Anne Rd. and South Independence). TheRoadsBistro.com

Craft, Norfolk
Don’t let the name deceive you. It’s not a craft brewery, but the newest NoCo (North Colley) offering from sedulous restaurateurs Rich Katz and Dave Filipowski, who purposely kept the name vague to nimbly encompass familiar food (tacos, poke bowls, smashburgers) that’s been “cleaned and dressed up,” as Katz puts it, “crafted” by chef Mickey Vernon with high-end ingredients like Wagyu beef. They promise fun (shareable mimosas) but a more upmarket feel than their Hank’s Filling Station and Cogans North, both a block away. “We’re not competing with ourselves because there’s no crossover,” says Katz. Unless you count crossing Colley to get there. Facebook.com/CraftonColley

Cork & Bull, Chesapeake
Whoa, is this Wall Street? A bronze statue, not unlike the charging beast in Manhattan’s Financial District, steers you into this striking chophouse and raw bar bullish on VIP treatment at Chesapeake’s Summit Pointe near Dollar Tree headquarters. A foray beyond Suffolk for M&M Hospitality (Vintage Tavern, River Stone Chophouse, Decoys Seafood, Amedeo’s Ristorante), it boasts rich, engrossing details (fossil-art, Remington sculptures) throughout the bar, dining room and meeting rooms alongside in-house, dry-aged Hereford beef, elk, succulent seafood, premiere wines, hard-to-come-by bourbons, even root beer on tap for adult floats. Might the Western motif evoking the Oregon Trail be a sly hint that this high-quality homegrown company wants to venture forth even further? CorkandBullChophouse.com

Matt's Smackin Macs
Matt’s Smackin Macs

Matt’s Smackin’ Macs, Newport News
Conquer your next mac (and cheese) attack with a bowl from co-owner Matt Moskal’s list of creative gooey combos or customize your comfort by dictating noodle, meat, cheeses, sauces and more. Sticking to its fast-foodie, mac-mission, the only other items are a companionable tomato soup and a hot dog, fitting since this chalet-shaped stand was designed by the frankfurter-peddling Weinerschnitzel chain in the 1960s. Facebook.com/MattsSmackinMacs

1631 Burgers, Bourbon & Brew, Poquoson
No, 1631 isn’t part of the address; it’s the year Poquoson was first mentioned in official county documents. This veteran-owned business hopes to make a little local history itself by keeping a simple focus on burgers featuring Virginia-raised beef and curated bourbons and beer, a triumvirate as alliterative—and almost as classic—as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. 1631Poquoson.com

They’ve Grown…

Mr. Shawarma
Mr. Shawarma

Mr. Shawarma, Norfolk/Virginia Beach
The longstanding Ghent go-to for deliriously delicious shawarma and falafel is opening a second quick-service location on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach. It includes a drive-thru for Mideastern street food you can take right to the streets. MrShawarma.com

Crystal Palate, Norfolk
Crystal Cameron-Schaad and her savvy team more than doubled the size of their wine boutique and eno-education center, adding a dedicated classroom to teach enthusiasts as well as those seeking internationally recognized WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) cred, a private event space for 20-50 guests, a tasting salon for intimate sampling experiences and a gallery wall showcasing local artists. CrystalPalate.com

17 Hands Coffee/Robin Simmons Bakery, Virginia Beach
Robin Simmons named her 4-year-old café-cum-bakeshop after her horse Tango’s height (four inches equal a hand). But we picture the name referencing eager fingers wriggling to snatch her scratch buttermilk biscuits, sweet and savory scones, quiche, cinnamon buns, pies, cookies, KETO and vegan delights and cakes in flavors spanning lemon-lavender to chocolate Chambord. Now that her business has gobbled up the suite next door, there’s more seating and production space to jump into making breads and sandwiches. Fresh-squeezed lemonade and coffee drinks including the Mr. Ed martini (espresso, vodka, Kahlua, simple syrup) are even more reasons to hoof it on over. 17HandsCoffee.com

They’re Coming Soon…

Wick & Sip, Norfolk
Wine poured in the lounge for DIYers will impart a “wick”ed glow at this feel-good, Richmond-imported candle purveyor (think waxy Pinot’s Palette or Muse Paintbar) coming to 22nd Street in Ghent.

508 Crafthouse, Norfolk
Richard Jordan and William Perkins plan an upscale yet relaxed Chelsea restaurant in the former Tortilla West with both a seductive bar and conference-ready meeting room. It’s kind of a reverse mullet: party up front, business in back.

They’re Getting New Digs…

Legrand Kitchen
Legrand Kitchen

Legrand Kitchen, Norfolk
Stephen Marsh ups the size of his foodies’ haven one hundred percent by transitioning it from NoCo to the former Crackers at Riverview Village, but it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, rather like going from a dram to a shot. Legrand will remain warm, snug and true to its groove—the burger and grilled cabbage with Buffalo sauce convey—but more elbow room enables Marsh to evolve and launch a cocktail program (influenced by Shiptown, Legrand’s erstwhile relative). LegrandKitchen.com

Black Angus, Virginia Beach
After closing at the Oceanfront and a yearlong hiatus, this beloved steak-and seafood-house, one of our area’s oldest restaurants (founded 1952), herded itself to Great Neck Village. BlackAngusRestaurant.com

Mermaid Winery, Norfolk/Virginia Beach
Reds, whites and rosés flow in a blue-chip setting as Virginia’s pioneering urban winery transplants from Ghent to the first floor of the former Virginia Bank and Trust Building, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in Downtown Norfolk. Mermaid #2 is still rooted on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach. MermaidWinery.com/Mermaid

Pacifica, Virginia Beach
The last Little Bar Bistro (RIP Crackers, Empire, Metropolis, Six) heads several blocks south to the resort area’s heart, settling into the former Elevenses in Summer House. Owner Chris Glover shares that the buzzy locale with 90 seats inside and an ample patio will not only serve nightly tapas and cocktails, LBB’s legendary brand, but also add a twist: breakfast and lunch tapas. Facebook.com/PacificaLBB

Marisa Marsey Headshot
Marisa Marsey
+ posts and articles

Marisa Marsey is a food, beverage and travel writer whose awards include 1st place Food Writing from the Virginia Press Association. A Johnson & Wales University representative, she has sipped Château d'Yquem '75 with Jean-Louis Palladin, sherpa-ed for Edna Lewis and savored interviews with Wolfgang Puck and Patrick O’Connell.

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