Nosh News: Focaccia, A Treehouse and More

In this edition: Fresh made focaccia in Selden Market, the new Yorkies sandwich shop, a magical treehouse cafe at Pinner House, beautiful pottery and Turkish coffee at Kiln Kingdom, and Cibus ready for prime time in Phoebus
foccacia board

By Marisa Marsey

Amale Tre: A Lot of Love in a Little Space
It’s nearly impossible to unearth a culture that doesn’t prize family and food, but Italians elevate the pairing to an operatic scale. Even in just 300 square feet. Case in point: Amale Tre Focacceria & Deli (pictured above) in Downtown Norfolk’s Selden Market.

Step into this postage stamp-sized spot and it’s as if you’ve been airdropped into Italy. It carries on in the vein of alimentari shops tucked into ancient fortifications from Modena to Salerno: mortadella sausages dangling from trellises draped with plastic grapes, mini refrigerators filled with “grab and go” and “take and bake”—soup, pasta, lasagna, arancini, meatballs, marinara, tiramisu. Artfully arranged in the front case are focaccia, the headliners, ready to be eaten open-faced or stuffed like a sandwich.

“All is made with love and fresh and homemade. No shortcuts; the way it’s supposed to be,” says Milan native Gabriele Pianezze, ardently slicing provolone for a customer opting to lunch at Amale Tre’s sole café table. The name, meaning “love the three of them,” alludes to his three daughters.

The family affair continues with his wife Nikki working alongside him, the focacceria being an extension of their popular food truck La Cucina di Sophia (Sophia’s the middle daughter, 19) and farmers’ market booth where products bear the label La Cucina di Milania (Milania’s the youngest, 5). The eldest, Shia (30), didn’t want to be branded, though her husband is the one who discovered the unclaimed, unbeatable domain name: bestitalianfoodever, an umbrella for all the Pianezze’s food service including catering and private cheffing.

Are any of his offspring drawn to the family business? “Milania likes to come here,” says Gabriele, then he nods towards nearby S’mores Amore, adding with a resigned chuckle: “To eat the s’mores next door.”

Selden Market could be considered another side of the family; the retail incubator nurtures entrepreneurs. Among Amale Tre’s other neighbors, husband-and-wife Derak and Anita Green just unveiled Cooking with Greens, peddling spice blends and kitchen lifestyle products, and macaron maven Geneviève Malarkey recently opened a second Café Geneviève in Kempsville’s historic Carraway House. More to love. 
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Yorkies: Sandwiches and Sustainability
York Dudley Poole IV, better known as Kip Poole, describes his forthcoming Yorkie’s as a modern deli-market and an homage to his dad, “Yorkie,” who’s been nudging him for years to open his own place.

But it wasn’t until Kip, former executive chef at Commune in Norfolk and Virginia Beach public schools’ scratch kitchen program, met famed restaurateur Will Guidara while appearing on HBO Max’s The Big Brunch that he cemented his plans. 

“Will took me under his arm and said, ‘Dude, you gotta do this. Your passion is contagious,’” Kip recalls.

“This” means Yorkie’s, ostensibly a specialty sandwich shop where I-264 empties into the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, projected for a June opening “or when I’m 110% ready,” Kip says, only half-jokingly.

But it also will be a campus for his decade-old, non-profit CROP Foundation, creating opportunities for youth in culinary arts, hospitality and agriculture.

Expect high-quality, eat-in or takeaway sammies and salads showing off local farmers’ produce (“If you want, swap out traditional chips with your tofu Reuben for a smoked asparagus salad with asparagus from Flanagan Farm,” Kip gives as an example) as well as what’s grown on-property in a greenhouse and nine raised beds. 

“I’m stoked to be doing a restaurant, more stoked to be part of the community,” he shares, eager to start cooking classes and supply excess production to shelters. The 3,700 square foot, ViBe-situated venue also will be available for special events. In other words, it’s going to be all that and more than a bag of chips.
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Magical Magnolia Treehouse Café
It’s as if the Brothers Grimm cast a fairy spell on the trees clustered by the side of Pinner House, a boutique bed and breakfast, enchanting in its own right, situated just off the main drag of Downtown Suffolk. In reality, it was proprietor Allyn Brown who turned the towering magnolias into a hidden café, secreted and scented by their blossoms. He installed castle-style double doors, built wooden platforms and strung Edison bulbs for a ground-level “treehouse” seating 40 for breakfast and lunch (crepes, toasts, soup, panini, coffees and teas) plus private events. It’s open to the public along with guests of the B&B that Brown runs with his wife Kris and daughter Melody. They anticipate an ABC license, so look forward to wine and cheese soirees and such. Our kind of happily ever after.
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Subject Yourself to Kiln Kingdom
Kiln Kingdom had us at exquisite, brilliantly colored pottery handcrafted in Istanbul—dishware, vases, tiles, animal figurines, backgammon sets. But when we realized that this luminous shop just off Merchants Square offers “coffee on the sand” (tongue-coating Turkish coffee brewed by trolling little pots in sand-filled pans for even heating), macarons, walnut baklava and other sweets to restore the spirit while setting a spell at one of three café tables or carrying off on a Colonial Williamsburg stroll, well, let’s just say Turkish delight took on a new twist. 
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Cibus, Ready for Prime Time
Here’s a story sounding Brady Bunch-ish. Some of the folks behind two lovely erstwhile Phoebus establishments—Drexler’s Wood Fired Grill and Fox Tail Wine Bar—met and, on more than a hunch, formed a new family-friendly restaurant in the former Drexler’s: Cibus Chophouse.

Fox Tail’s chef-co-owner Justin Ramos and bar manager Phoebe Jayne along with Drexler GM Brad Monte position Cibus (Latin for food) as the kind of place you can regularly visit for gentle-on-the-wallet grilled entrees, sandwiches and adult beverages (fresh-made Brazilian limeade, refreshing whether or not spirit-enhanced, and $1 beers at lunch). They’ve lightened up the space and lined walls with local artwork, aiming for a kids’ “gallery” up front. Stay tuned.
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Photo from top to bottom: By David Uhrin, courtesy of Yorkies, courtesy of Pinner House, by Leona Baker, courtesy of Cibus

Marisa Marsey Headshot
Marisa Marsey
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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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