Abingdon Eats: Italy or Wonderland? Foresta could be both | WJHL
ABINGDON, Virginia (WJHL) – To crown Abingdon Eats, I chose to visit Foresta, who is currently a finalist in the United States The best new restaurant of the day in 2021 competetion.
Unique is not enough for Foresta, as there are many unique places in the Tri-Cities. Extraordinary might be the right word as Foresta’s aesthetics and price tag stand out among a few solid and proven examples in the city.
The main question that came to my mind when visiting owner Zane Triplett and chef Marco Rossi was how the restaurant managed to reach a town of less than 10,000 people in the middle of the southwest of Virginia.
For those who haven’t seen the dream squad that currently sits atop the USA Today competition, Foresta keeps pace with the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel The Barish hometown of San Empress by Boon. Francisco and the Hawksmoor steakhouse in New York.
Chef Rossi echoed my own sentiment: to even sit in the same room with these absolute powerhouses of the culinary industry is an honor.
“It’s a challenge, of course, but at the same time it’s amazing that we’re neck and neck with these big cities because it’s such a small city. So I guess we’re doing a really good job.
All of these spots have had one of the toughest years the restaurant industry has ever seen, and so far they’ve gone off brilliantly. For Triplett, Foresta was still waiting for her home in Abingdon, and when the opportunity presented itself in the form of a friend call, he didn’t hesitate.
“They always knew if that particular space became available call me and I would be home in two days,” said Triplett. “And they called me in September, last October – I was home in two days.”
Triplett cut his teeth running bars all over the area and met Rossi when they were working together.
“I found him in Nashville, he and I ran a very upscale restaurant together for about a year before we both separated from the restaurant,” Triplett said. “And we’ve just stayed in touch ever since. Then it could have happened and I called him and said, “Hey, I just wanted you to know that you are moving to Abingdon, VA with me. “
Rossi’s story is a bit more complicated and began with his childhood in Rome. When Foresta’s menu says premium Mediterranean, what they really mean is authentic Italian with a side of anything you can reach in the shallow seas nearby.
Authentic is a loaded term, but when I say Rossi is authentic, I mean the idea of changing his recipes, which many have learned from his family, is blasphemy. At every turn, Foresta promises to do everything in its power to maintain quality, and it shows both on the plate and on the menu.
How can a salmon dish cost $ 38? Well, when you find out that it is from the Faroe Islands in northwest Scotland and has crossed the Atlantic to put it on your plate, things start to make more sense.
From what I could see, Foresta has made no effort to hide that this is an indulgence for those who arrive. From the antique bar to the moody and eclectic atmosphere, there are few places in the building that don’t offer something completely new.
And Foresta is not a foreign body deposited in the middle of Main Street; Triplett’s ties run deep in the region. Without experience in The Tavern down the street, Triplett said the place would never have existed.
“Josh and Celia Fuller, they own The Tavern,” he said. “I grew up with them, they are some of my best friends in the world.
Currently, ancient knight swords can be found alongside battle-ready blades behind the bar run by competing domestic bartenders like Triplett and Marcus. If that doesn’t tell you a bit more about what you’re heading into, maybe the grass and tree in the lobby could.
“This is the type of presentation you want your guests to experience,” Rossi said. “And it all goes together. It’s not just the food, it’s the service, it’s the ambiance, it’s the atmosphere, it’s the owners. It’s a lot of things that when you put them together you create the magic of the restaurant.
While Foresta is dressed for Christmas right now, Triplett said he’ll leave a part of every party over the years so he never has to decorate again.
For Rossi, the food is not as flexible as the interior. If he wants to do it, Marco will do it well.
“Each dish that comes out has six, seven, eight layers of feel and fit before it comes out,” Rossi said. “So it takes time. It’s not just from the pan to the dish. This is just the beginning.
A chef obsessed with serving up a dish might seem silly considering it takes place just steps from a false skeleton hanging from the ceiling, but that’s Foresta’s fundamental paradox. Finding a false ficus in your home is about as surprising as finding a chef with Rossi training in your garden.
“I went to the hotel school in Rome. After graduating there, I left Rome around the age of 20. I went to London, my first job was at the glorious Savoy Hotel. I lived in London for four years, then I went to Paris, from there I started working on a cruise ship. Then I ended up in LA in 1980, and have been here ever since.
Once in the United States, Rossi wasted no time in finding work throughout the culinary industry. Some highlights included LA, New York, Dallas and many more. Coincidentally, several of the towns he passed through are now competing for the title of this year’s best restaurant.
But like any chef worth his salt, Rossi was quick to point out that he doesn’t do it alone.
“In the kitchen, it’s not just about the chef,” Rossi said. “Because if you don’t have the right team behind you, the boss can’t do everything. And personally, I don’t like – it’s my opinion and my point of view – that the chef always gets all the credit. Because I know what’s behind the boss. You have a brigade, you have a team that does a lot of work that people don’t see. My executive sous chef, Gabriella Grady, she is amazing.
Regardless of the outcome of the vote, Foresta’s inclusion in the race is well deserved and very much in line with the tastes and quality experiences you will find elsewhere in Abingdon. There’s a reason they’ve won the Best Small Town Food Scene in America award for the third year in a row.
If you want to vote in the contest, you can do so here. All visitors can vote once per day and voting ends at noon on December 20.
This is the finale of the “Abingdon Eats” five-part series. If you haven’t seen the others and are planning to visit the city, I highly recommend reading or watching the others below: