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Weekly Food News: Peter Chang’s Noodles & Dumplings, La Grotta’s reopening, a farewell to Ted Santarella, and more

This week, a look at Peter Chang’s new fast-casual concept, details on a new Downtown brewpub, La Grotta’s reopening, and this year’s Fire Flour & Fork lineup.

Trevor Dickerson

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Local restaurateur Ted Santarella passes away

We start this week’s Food News on a sad note. Local restaurateur Ted Santarella, owner of Tarrant’s Café, Max’s On Broad, and Tarrant’s West, has passed away following a valiant battle with cancer, the restaurants posted on their Facebook pages last night. Santarella, a 30-year veteran of Richmond’s restaurant industry, opened Tarrant’s, followed by Max’s and Tarrant’s West.

The Facebook post reads, in part:

With deepest regrets we announce the passing of Ted Santarella, restaurateur and owner of Tarrant’s Café, Max’s on Broad, and Tarrant’s West. As some of you may know, Ted struggled with cancer and was simply unable to keep up what was an extremely valiant fight against the disease.

All three of Santarella’s restaurants will close Thursday for a memorial service to be held at 4:00 PM Bliley’s Funeral Home at 3801 Augusta Avenue, followed by a celebration of life at Tarrant’s West at 11129 Three Chopt Road.

The post went on to request any regards be sent to Tarrant’s Café, located at 1 W. Broad Street in Downtown Richmond.

Peter Chang makes foray into fast-casual dining with Noodles & Dumplings

13938091_10206538667216846_8090576995329402583_oFamed Szechuan chef Peter Chang opened his third Richmond restaurant (and his ninth overall) on Monday afternoon in Short Pump. Noodles & Dumplings by Peter Chang, just down the strip center from his original West End restaurant, is a slightly different, fast-casual twist on his previous restaurants.

I was in attendance at Monday’s grand opening to get a first hand look at, and taste of, the new concept.

13913588_10206538641976215_4577041163614032247_oHoused in the former Bella’s Italian Restaurant, the interior is largely unchanged, save for a new paint job and removal of the bar, and is fairly spacious. Unlike Chang’s typical sit-down restaurants, guests make their selections on large iPad Pro screens which display a pictorial guide to the menu, take a number, and food is brought out. A number of dipping sauces including the popular “odd taste sauce” are available for guests at a self-serve station.

Chang himself could be seen cooking alongside his staff in the restaurant’s open kitchen Monday afternoon.

13913607_10206538642616231_2193262561412419166_oThe menu is a bit different than Chang’s traditional fare, skewing towards steamed and fried dumplings (the fried pork and steamed chicken dumplings were plump and satisfying), a variety of noodle bowls including the rich, garlicky Grandma Noodles dish (which, once the restaurant is a bit more established, will be prepared with hand-pulled flat noodles), a variety of bao (ball-shaped buns filled with pork, chicken, or beef–served plain or curried), and a Chinese take on traditional Japanese teppanyaki plates (the pork belly teppanyaki we ordered was rich, flavorful, and plentiful and accompanied by steamed veggies and fried rice).

Noodles & Dumplings by Peter Chang is open for lunch and dinner service beginning at 11:30 AM and is located at 11408 W. Broad Street in Short Pump.

Check out the full menu here.

Fire Flour & Fork tickets on sale Monday morning

As Richmond’s food and dining scene has been elevated both regionally and nationally over the past few years, one culinary event has risen to the occasion to not only show off all the region has to offer, but to involve the community and foster a deeper understanding of the area’s culinary talent, our roots, and where the industry is going.

Billed as “a gathering for the food curious,” Fire Flour & Fork, which returns this November for its third year, is a four-day culinary celebration, featuring dinners, dine-around events, culinary tours, tastings, demonstrations, and parties, produced by Real Richmond Food Tours in partnership with Virginia is for Lovers.

Tickets for this year’s event go on sale Monday at 10:00 AM, and they’re sure to sell out. This year’s festival will benefit Tricycle Gardens, Shalom Farms, Slow Food RVA, Renew Richmond and the Center for Rural Culture, among others. Last year’s event raised more than $12,000 for local charities.

For the full schedule and all the juicy details, visit the event website.

Champion Brewing partnering with Richmond chefs for Downtown brewpub

Charlottesville-based Champion Brewing Company is opening a brewpub in Downtown Richmond, Richmond.com’s Karri Peifer reports. The spot will be housed in the former Aurora space, which served as a bakery and coffeeshop by day and moonlighted as a nightclub on weekends, at 401 E. Grace Street. The menu is being curated in partnership with Richmond dining vets Jason Alley and Michele Jones of nearby Pasture and Comfort restaurants.

Peifer has details on the brewpub’s plan for beer as well as some hints as to what the menu might offer.

La Grotta hosting soft opening Thursday evening

La Grotta Ristorante, which served its last meal in its former Shockoe Slip home of more than two decades July 2nd, will open the doors to diners (a soft opening, anyway) once again at its new location inside the Hilton Richmond Downtown at the corner of 6th and W. Broad Street Thursday evening. The space was once home to Richmond department store Miller & Rhoads.

The restaurant’s Northern Italian fare will be served up during dinner service Monday through Saturday with plans to add lunch service soon, owner-Chef Antonio Capece said in a press release.

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