The Slice: Thankful friends, wood-fired fare, and a slew of stew

 Remember the year I made more bread pudding than turkey? GOOD TIMES.

Remember the year I made more bread pudding than turkey? GOOD TIMES.

HOW TO GIVE THANKS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

If you love gathering around a big, beautiful bounty of food with your friends and family for the holidays but hate that whole apron-wearing, turkey-brining part that comes before it, you've got a few options to make life easy.

Stella's Grocery is offering an upscale menu of mains and sides including boneless leg of lamb, fennel gratin, and black kale salad, plus desserts like pumpkin cheesecake, pecan chocolate bourbon pie, and of course, baklava. Today (Wednesday, 11/15) is the last day to place orders (you've got until 9:00 pm!), either online or in the shop, so don't dawdle!

Eat Smart RVA is also offering to do the heavy holiday lifting. Owner Abbie Toner will cook up all the sides; all you need is the turkey. Or, if you're not the turkey-eating type, you'll be glad to know that Mean Bird is offering a fully vegan Thanksgiving option, with limited hours on the day itself just in case you forgot that you were both vegan and interested in celebrating a major holiday! They're not here to judge you, but to feed you. PikNik is also open and offering a special menu on Thanksgiving.

Eating at comfort always feels like eating with family anyway, so why not bring their famous sides to your family? Chef Jason Alley says they'll be offering mac & cheese, squash casserole, sweet potato casserole, broccoli & rice casserole, green bean casserole and stuffing, plus turkey gravy and cranberry sauce. Sides are $3 per person each, with price breaks for orders of 8, 12, and over. Call (804) 780-0004 to order.

You've missed the window for pre-ordering Whisk's Thanksgiving tarts, but try your luck stopping in to the bakery, and you'll be sure to find something to appease your sweet teeth. Let that be a lesson to you, and remember this feeling when it comes time to pre-order your Buche de Noel! If you want to bank on a sure thing, however, you can still place orders at Red Cap Patisserie, and, trust me, that Linzer Torte is a solid holiday investment.

THE FRIENDS IN FRIENDSGIVING

Ardent Craft Ales' annual Friendsgiving celebration returns tomorrow, November 16th, and the list of friends doing the giving includes Saison, Mean Bird, Flora, Best Friends Forever (appropriate!) and Mekong. You can become a friend by donating 15 canned items or $15 dollars to support FeedMore, and once you have, you'll be treated to a whole heap of food, plus the release of Ardent's Helles Lager and Barrel Aged Milk Stout.

And since this season is all about giving, you've got another great chance to do so: The Green Kitchen is hosting a dinner benefitting FeedMore this Saturday. Guests are encouraged to bring a bag of food to donate and their own plate to eat off of.

Feeling stressed about making it through another politically-charged holiday season with your relations? Let Brenner Pass help take the edge off with a selection of charcuterie, cheese and booze for your Feelings-Eating needs on the eve of D-Day, I mean T-Day.

 I spy a shiny new oven...

I spy a shiny new oven...

TA-DA, TAZZA!

Do you smell the wood smoke burning in Scott’s Addition? It could be curling out from one of Tazza Kitchen’s mobile smokers, like a cartoon smoke finger, beckoning you to follow. Since opening a corporate HQ and production kitchen in May in a former diesel engine repair shop located at 1600 Altamont, neighbors have been popping out of their apartments to ask co-owner and culinary director Jeff Grant, “Dude, can I get a taco?”

Soon, you’ll be able to follow the smoke to 1500 Roseneath, where Tazza Kitchen plans to open their 6th location in early December. With a slightly smaller footprint than their other restaurants, Grant said it was well past time to supplement with the nearby production kitchen, which now offers prep support to the the Short Pump and Alverser Plaza locations.

The newest Tazza will offer the same Neopolitan-oven-fired pizzas, tacos and sides that have anchored the menus at their other locations, but now, thanks to a wood grill, the chefs will be able to prepare grilled fish, steaks, coal-roasted vegetables, and, potentially, even a cheeseburger to end all cheeseburgers (Grant is tight-lipped on details but did spill that it will involve 7 Hills beef grilled over oak coals). The restaurant, which was designed by 510_architects, will offer seating for 135 guests, including an area that can function as a private dining space for about 30, plus a lively bar and a patio facing the historic Handcraft building. Rolling windows will open up the Eastern side of the restaurant, and within, seating will be right in the action, with a fishbowl view of the chefs as they cook each meal.

John Haggai, co-owner and construction supervisor, is obsessed with the distinct touches that make each location slightly different, and he lights up like a kid when he reveals a new feature. For this space, he’s chosen shou sugi ban, a Japanese burned wood technique, to create a rustic look and a cornflower blue tile on the walls, providing contrast and brightness in different corners of the restaurant. A lighted wall of wine bottles will be the focus on one back wall, and lighting by Umanoff Design Lighting will help illuminate the rest of the space.

Tazza Kitchen plans to offer dinner first, with brunch and lunch service following soon after. They are currently hiring for all positions.

TK Quick Facts

  • TK’s Neopolitan-style ovens, which anchor each restaurant, are custom made by Mara Forni. The Tazza crew specifically requested an oven with two doors, something Mara Forni had never attempted before.

  • TK contracts with two Virginia companies to provide enough Virginia oak to keep those ovens burning. It takes about 8 cords of wood a month!

  • The mural on the outside of Tazza Kitchen will be painted by Night Owl, aka Street Artist Mickael Broth, and according to Derek Bennion, Broth drew his inspiration from photos of the Tazza team’s travels

  • The 6000 square foot Tazza HQ has serious potential. Haggai mentioned the idea of one day having a food pick-up location there for large orders. “You’ll never even have to get out of the car,” Haggai says, if this vision ever comes to light. That’s my kind of drive-thru.

STEW ON IT

This Saturday is the annual Brunswick Stew Festival, and this year, it's a Stew AND Stout festival, meaning, in addition to the slew of stews, you can also sample 8 local stouts, including Hardywood's Gingerbread Stout and Steambell's Tiramisu Stout, the perfect beverage companions to a hearty bowl of brunswick stew. The stew masters begin preparing on-site at midnight the night before, and stew-enthusiasts are encouraged to arrive early to avoid missing the to-go quarts. Both samples and quarts will be sold by the 7 competitors, who are all vying for a $1000 grand prize. There is a $1 suggested entry fee, and proceeds of this event benefit EnRichmond.

NEW & DIFFERENT

  • The Broken Tulip, a prix-fixe, communal dining concept in the former Amour Bistro location in Carytown opens Friday, November 17th.
  • Camden's Dogtown Market is making some changes after dealing with the unexpected loss of their front of house manager. Look for a prix-fixe menu and a wine-and-beer-focused market.
  • North End Market is now open at 718 N. Cleveland St. with prepared foods including a vegan mushroom shepherd's pie, chicken pot pie, and pork empanadas. Seven days a week, 4:30 to 10:00 and through Uber Eats.

 

We'll be taking a break from food news next week to slurp oysters, give thanks, and watch the parade. Happy Thanksgiving!

Stephanie GanzComment