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My son's baseball schedule has finally stopped, but had us traveling througout VA and beyond this summer. Last weekend saw us heading home from West VA via route 340. In an effort to avoid eating in West Virginia we headed into Berryville to try the rumored Neighborhood Italian Kitchen (NIK) offshoot. For those who are unfamiliar, NIK is probably the best restaurant in Winchester now that One Block West is going away. A strip-mall Italian-American joint that makes it's own mozzarella, cooks everything to order from scratch, and cuts no corners. NIK's Broiler room has opened just off the main strip in Berryville, conveniently located next to the ABC. In addition to the "regular" menu we have come to enjoy from NIK's Winchester, the Broiler room has added a selection of steaks, dry-aged in house. As with the NIK in Winchester, the prices are unbelieveable. $24 for a 20 oz bone in shell steak with your choice of side, and $13.95 for a chicken parm dinner large enough to serve two! While I can't comment on the ingredient sourcing other than to say that (a) mozz is made in house, and (b) suffice to say that the steak isn't wagyu and the chicken isn't green circle I can say that the dishes are made with care. We started with mushrooms oreganata and calamari, both of which were excellent - I prefer the sauteed calamari at NIK's Winchester, but was over-ruled on this order. The oreganata was well balanced between garlic, oregano and parsley - you'll often see versions leaning too heavily on the garlic, but not here. Mains were Rigatoni with Meatballs, Chicken Parm x2 and the 20 oz. shell steak with fries. The Rigatoni and meatballs were enjoyed - the bite i was able to steal impressed me with the brightness of the tomato sauce. The meatballs themselves were large but relatively light - I would guess a ground beef and pork sausage mix. The chickens parm were also excellent - the very same bright tomato sauce worked as well as a topping as it did in a more starring role with the rigatoni. Finally, my son inhaled the 20 oz shell steak, which came cooked to the requested medium rare, and with a generously charred exterior. The fries were potato wedges, and seemed to be made in house vs. the frozen variety. We were far too full to contemplate dessert, and left with basically an entire chicken parm dinner ready for the following day. The wine "list" is short and unremarkable, however they do have at least three offerings from Winchester's Escutcheon Brewing Co on tap, so I'd lean in that direction. We will be back.
I found myself out in Berryville, VA last weekend and stopped in to a relatively new burger shop on W. Main street called Charlie's. Charlie's is a family owned casual restaurant serving burgers, fries, hot dogs and milkshakes. The beef is local (though no source is listed on the menu) and ground in house, and the shakes are made with organic ice cream. We ordered a few burgers and a hot dog, along with an order of regular fries and sweet potato waffle fries. The burgers were cooked to order and to temperature, and can be topped with a fairly wide array of free toppings, plus the usual upcharges (cheese, bacon, etc). Both the sweet potato and regular fries were previously frozen and not made in house, but were fried to order. The burgers were all cooked as requested - one quibble from our group was that a double burger should have two slices of cheese on it, but that's very minor. Shakes were also excellent, and a wide variety of flavors were available (we had vanilla and banana). Service was a bit slow, but as mentioned everything was done to order and the owner's entire family was in the restaurant serving customers. We were given an extra helping of sweet potato fries to make up for the slowness of getting burgers out - a nice but unnecessary touch. There's not a whole lot in Clarke County, and one could do much worse than stop in and support this family owned establishment serving up good, honest fare. We aren't "over the mountain" much, but will be sure to head back in when we are.