I had lunch at Orzo in the Main St. Market in Charlottesville this afternoon and it was quite good. They have an interesting and creative selection of wines and a full bar, bonus. To eat, I had a bowl of a roasted tomato soup made with a very rich lamb stock; the combination was excellent. They had a steak sandwich special which they tell me they make using trimmings from a dry aged New York Strip and it showed. It was served with a young asiago cheese, local arugula, sauted mushrooms and onions and a red pepper mayonnaise on baguette (Albemarle Baking Company baguette for those who care...and those who don't but should). For dessert I had a piece of a very buttery bundt cake that had been soaked in a mixture made from Grand Marnier, Orange juice and something else I didn't catch because I was stuck on Grand Marnier and had whipped cream and a thick lemon curd-type sauce on it. The cake was really good and a nice way to finish up along with a cappuccino.
The owners are the two guys who were responsible for the managing and front of the house at Fuel Co. during the run when it was really good. The service at Orzo tells me that these two are a lot of the reason why Fuel Co. was good when it was and went downhill quickly (and then closed rather quickly) after they both left.
Orzo made me think of the best parts of a San Francisco style neighborhood restaurant. The price point isn't out of reach (dinner entrees are all under $20 and lunch entrees average about $10 and top out at $12), the service is relaxed (t-shirts on the staff) but professional (fresh silverware, appropriate stem ware, etc) and the food more creative than most restaurants around. They said that they source locally for a lot of things and use local businesses for most of their products (there is a fishmonger and a butcher in the Main St. Market and they get their seafood and meat from them; there's also the aforementioned bakery and a gelato shop from which they also source products). I was impressed that given the proximity of the bakery they had a pastry chef working in the kitchen...it's nice to have freshly made desserts in house.
I'll be back immediately the next time I'm in town.