"Sorry, can you hold on a sec?" Jobi's Pizza owner Mark Hinckley attends to a delivery phone. He's efficient and friendly. Upon returning, he graciously apologizes and continues his story. "Well, we all have day jobs. This is something fun to do at night." The "we" Mark is referring to is himself and his two business partners, Joe Kuftack and a man named O'Brien. It was the combination of their names that spawned the restaurant's curious moniker—Jobi's. "We work for engineering companies," Mark explains. "I work for architecture, the other two in military civil service." Maybe it's this background in creating something from nothing that explains the success of the restaurant's hand-tossed pizzas and made-from-scratch wing and pasta sauces. However, Mark believes that it's something more immediate that brings customers in the door. "They're supporting a local business. When regulars come in, sure, it's the quality. But here you can feed a family of four for under $20. It's a tough economy, and we want to help." Through the floor-to-ceiling restaurant windows, night is settling in, and the tables are filling up for dinner. The red-and-white-checkered tablecloths slowly populate with hot sandwiches, gooey specialty pizzas, and whole-grain pastas. Looking around at the wood paneling, smiling faces, and pizza ovens aggressively wagging their tails, there's a palpable feeling of friendliness in the room. Mark believes that comes from a place that larger chains can't access. "One of the people that works here––the one who painted the Jobi's logo on the wall—he's an airbrush artist. Wintertime, he works at the pizza place. The rest of the year, he works airbrush on the ocean," Mark says proudly. "We can do things like that. We're very family oriented."
"Fisherman can place their orders, no matter what time during the morning. It's not abnormal for me to go up at 6 a.m. and deliver sandwiches," says Kathy Cunningham, general manager of Captain's Galley. With Kathy's own boat right there on the marina, it seems that she has never known anything different, crafting homemade mac, coleslaw, and potato salad only steps from Chesapeake Bay. But this routine started only a few years ago?Vinings Landing Marina caught wind of the popularity of Kathy's deli in town and decided to pay her a visit. "They had a space available and asked me if I'd set up shop," Kathy says. "And, well, I love boating."?
Her relocation dovetailed nicely with a full renovation that bestowed the place with new tile floors, new walls, and hardwood tables. But a big selling point for Kathy was the outdoor patio to the Marina. "Here people can pop in by car, by boat, or by foot. It's very accessible." During winter months, regular fisherman and new guests alike stop in for her lunch offerings of made-to-order deli and breakfast sandwiches; as the calendar turns to April, warmer weather welcomes acoustic Fridays and the return of the cool sun who wears sunglasses. "The menu becomes more expansive," she says. "Burgers for dinner?also tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad. I know the winter menu says just chips. But in summer, we'll roll out the fries.?
Michael Gomori has always been led by passion. As a young man and recent college graduate, he sidestepped a potential career in biology, a subject for which he'd lost his spark, and joined the Navy. He was eager to see the world, so he spent 27 years seeing, learning, and climbing the ranks.
When Michael reentered civilian life, he was determined to discover his next true passion—as it turned out, his passion was tucked under the crisp linens of fine dining. Joined by his wife, Diane, Michael developed a restaurant to embody his way of life, and the pair fittingly named it Passion the Restaurant.
Inside the romantic restaurant with white linens and crimson accents, couples and friends converse over new york strip steaks, Virginia crab cakes, and deboned chicken cooked under brick. Tapas dishes, such as duck sliders, spring rolls, and a cheese platter, play into the intimate environment under twinkling chandelier light.
Local artists’ works dapple the walls and are for sale, with a portion of proceeds donated to Our House Families, an organization that helps support families in need. Twice a month on the patio, patrons can partake in a cigar social, puffing away and reminiscing about the old days of candy cigarettes.
Even though Portuguese explorers couldn't pronounce the Swahili name for the African bird's eye chili—pili-pili—the sailors fully embraced its flavor shortly after landing in the region known today as Mozambique. Intrigued by the small, fiery pepper, they combined it with aromatic doses of herbs, garlic, and lemon to create the first peri-peri sauce. That sauce eventually became a wildly popular marinade for poultry, and the tasty concoction made its way to South Africa over the next several centuries. There, in 1987, two friends decided to honor this culinary legacy by founding the first Nando's Peri-Peri restaurant. The eatery continued to remain true to its South African roots, even while expanding to encompass locations in 24 countries across four continents.
Beginning with fresh chickens that never see the inside of a kitchen freezer, the chefs furtively marinate the birds in a secret peri-peri sauce for 24 hours before grilling them over an open flame. Diners dictate the heat level of their order, requesting that the grilled chicken arrive relatively mild or that wings be slathered with even more incendiary spices. The succulent chicken can be plated with hearty side dishes—such as Portuguese-style rice with herbs and peppers or peas with mint—or served in the form of a sandwich, wrap, or pita. To complement the menus' African flavors, Nando's worldwide locations collectively feature more than 4,000 pieces of African artwork.
Sharing is a must at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. Orders arrive served atop communal platters, from which diners pluck bites stewed meats and vegetables using of injera, a sourdough flatbread made from the gluten-free grain teff. The batter ferments for three to four days, producing its signature tang and a spongy texture that's ideal for soaking up richly seasoned sauces and wine spills.
Staff are happy to explain the menu and the staples of Ethiopian cooking found on a menu that, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, "offers enough diversity for the most seasoned diners but also provides novices an excellent introduction to Ethiopian food." Along with injera, the most iconic component of Ethiopian cooking is the powdered blend of chilies, basil, ginger, garlic, shallots, fenugreek, and cardamom known as berbere. This spice blend, prevalent throughout the menu, lends a pleasant kick to everything from sautéed beef and stewed lentils to slow-cooked potatoes and a blend of cabbage and whatever vegetables happen to be in season. Those entrees that don't star meat are vegan, as the cooks make them without butter or dairy.
A review in Style Weekly lauded recent renovations at Nile, along with service that "couldn't be better." The sensory experience starts even before you enter: the little brick building in the Fan bears a huge mural of a black-and-white crowd scene on one side and a brighter, more traditionally Ethiopian array of colors and shapes on the facade.
Prasit "Ken" Khachenrum's culinary journey spans more than 11,000 miles. In his native Thailand, the young chef began mastering the dishes of his home soil at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bangkok. Later, after landing a position with Commodore Cruise Lines, the globetrotting Khachenrum continued plying his skills while sailing beneath the Caribbean sun. Upon deciding to settle in Washington, DC, Chef Ken worked through the city's restaurant scene on his way to becoming sushi chef at Yosaku Japanese Restaurant, opening his first restaurant in Yorktown in 2002, and finally, opening Thaijindesu. Thaijindesu—translated from the Japanese word "romanji," meaning "Thai people"—invites guests into an elegant spiral of Thai and Japanese flavors. Chef Ken places bowls of steaming noodles and curries beside fresh rolls of sushi, uniting regional nuances on a single menu rather than uniting two menus with Velcro.