Few dining experiences are more rewarding than finding a locally owned, mom and pop operation. When you can feel the heart that goes into every dish, the authentic desire to make sure you’re taken care of, everything tastes better. Dining becomes an even bigger treat. These 9 awesome Virginia mom and pop restaurants truly capture that authentic feeling.
Mamma’s Kitchen is locally owned and operated and offers a fantastic mix of Italian and Mediterranean inspired cuisine. Whether you opt for a gyro, a pizza, a sub, or lasagna, you know your food was prepared with Mamma’s love.
Razzo in Norfolk, Virginia, has the most delicious bread this writer has ever tasted. You’re in for a real Italian treat, if you can get a table—the place is always packed. Try anything on the menu: it’s all exquisite.
Saigon #1, specifically on Newtown Road in Virginia Beach, offers delicious, home-cooked Vietnamese cuisine. The menu is huge, but every dish is worth trying at least once. If you visit enough, you’re sure to get to know the staff, and they might even have your order ready as you walk in.
Every dish at Ace Biscuit and Barbecue in Charlottesville, Virginia, packs a punch. Owner-chef Brian Ashworth has always wanted “a restaurant that prepares and serves food with love,” and Ace certainly fits the bill. Barbecue is their bread and butter, but their breakfast and lunch specialties shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dick Graham had always wanted to open up a successful pizza place. Today, his restaurant, Bottoms Up, has been voted Richmond, Virginia’s “Best Pizza” over and over again. Bottoms up has several signature pizza options, and the option to create your own pizza. They even offer “Bottoms Up Pockets,” essentially a calzone-esque hot pocket.
Molasses Grill serves southern inspired cuisine prepared by Chef Steven Schopen and his wife Karen Schopen. Chef Steven worked all over Europe before opening the Molasses Grill in 2005. Each of their four kids work alongside their parents, and the family atmosphere is palpable from the moment you step in the door.
Exmore Diner in Exmore, Virginia, was purchased in the 1990s by Evelyn Pruitt, who worked at the diner as a waitress. Today, it is run by her son Sean and his wife, Crystal, operating with family values and good food. The diner embodies authentic Americana like few other places in the country, and so is worth a visit for that alone.
Buffalo and More is the brainchild of Chef-owner Connie Hale and her partner, Carla George. The two raise the buffalo they use on their menus. The food is casual and made with locally sourced ingredients.
The Shack is one of the best restaurants in Virginia. The restaurant is only 400 square-feet and diners are asked to share the limited tables. The menu is in constant flux, but you can expect dishes like smoky rib-eye with fried hominy, turnips and ramps and morel gravy.