Fine Dining in Chesapeake
Yes, you read that right.
It’s your anniversary. Or your birthday. Maybe you just got a promotion, or maybe it’s just Wednesday, but you want something to eat that is delicious, well-plated and that makes you feel special. The problem is that you live in Chesapeake, and the thought of getting back on I-64 to go anywhere “fancy” when you’ve likely been driving that route all week makes you start to lose your appetite. Well, good news, everyone! There are some really nice places right here in Chesapeake to “treat yourself.” And if you don’t live in Chesapeake – these places are well worth the trip.
That’s right – over the past several years, the dining options in Chesapeake have grown by leaps and bounds. Many new, locally-owned options have opened up, some even taking over the spaces of chain restaurants who have closed down due to lack of interest. Most of these restaurants are excellent for daily dining, a drink in the evening or a lazy weekend lunch, but a few really stand out as the best examples of “fine dining” in the city. They each offer something unique, so here are a few of our favorites along with our awards for what we think they do best:
Best Restaurant to Share a “Lady and the Tramp” Spaghetti Slurping Moment with Your Bae: Vino Italian Bistro
Located in the heart of “downtown” Great Bridge, Vino completely refaced the building they moved into to create a Tuscan feel, complete with an outdoor patio flanked with olive trees and trickling fountains. Inside, right near the entrance is the restaurant’s wood-fired pizza oven, which starts emitting drool-inducing smoky smells around noon every day. Comfortable booths encircle a cozy bar and Murano glass fixtures create a nice, warm ambiance. Try a few of their Italian-inspired tapas dishes to start while sipping a wine from their curated list. If you’re in the mood for a classic pasta dish, try the spicy rigatoni abruzzesse. Otherwise, if you’re feeling adventurous, just order whatever the special that night is – it’s always good.
Best Restaurant to Watch the Sun Set Over the Intracoastal While You Stuff Your Face With Lobster: Amber Lantern
Amber Lantern sits on the second floor of the Top Rack Marina building. Below is a bait shop and deli, but take the stairs or elevator to the second floor and you’re suddenly in an upscale, low-lighted, swanky restaurant with arguably the best view of the Intracoastal in Chesapeake. On a mild night, sit on the patio for the best views of the sunset while listening to the fountain gurgle below.
The restaurant is a little tricky to get to while the Steel Bridge replacement is being constructed on Dominion Blvd, but it’s worth the detour for their Lobster Tortellini which is hands down everyone’s favorite. Their creme brulee is also not to be missed and always includes fresh, seasonal fruit. And their beer tap is as highbrow as their menu, including brews you almost never see on draft such as Chimay, Unibroue, and St. Bernardus.
Best Restaurant to Impress Your Date: Passion the Restaurant
Passion is one of the longest-standing fine dining restaurants in Chesapeake and probably the most well known. However, owners Mike and Diane Gormori are not just well known for their amazing food and service, but also because they are such integral parts of the Chesapeake community. Mike is a 27 year veteran of the Navy and both he and Diane are committed to giving back, including donating food each month to Chesapeake Care, Inc. and participating in events such as the Taste of Chesapeake. It’s probably not unfair to surmise that their restaurant paved the way for other upscale, locally owned restaurants in the city.
The food that Chef Garrett Barner puts together at Passion is described as “versatile and dynamic” and includes an impressive tapas menu, nightly specials as well as menu staples such as their famous she-crab soup and rack of lamb. But equally impressive is their wine list and knowledge. Monthly wine tastings that focus on a particular wine region as well as wine pairing dinners are scheduled on their website as are their extremely popular cooking classes where you can learn gourmet recipes and techniques directly from the Chef himself.
Best Restaurant to Break Out Your Steak Knife: The Butcher’s Son
The newest restaurant on this list, The Butcher’s Son, opened in Great Bridge in 2015 with high expectations, which it met immediately. Serving “antibiotic free, hormone free, humanely treated and locally harvested” meats and vegetables, it is likely the only place in Chesapeake with a $55 ribeye on the menu (but that does come with two sides, thank you very much Ruth’s Chris). But don’t let that price tag scare you off – other menu items such as their bacon-wrapped, tenderloin-style meatloaf start at just $14.
The large bar in the back of the restaurant with its vintage lighting and 15-foot high top-shelf bottle display is transportive. Either you are no longer in Chesapeake or Chesapeake is no longer the city you thought it was. Whichever is true – it’s a good feeling.
The truth is, though, that this is Chesapeake now. A new generation of residents and young families are demanding better options and fortunately Hampton Roads restaurant owners and chefs are stepping up to the stove. It’s a great time to be hungry here. Now go out and celebrate.
About the Sponsor of this Post:
Rose & Womble Realty Co. was born and bred in Hampton Roads – our owners live and work here in the Seven Cities. We are a family-owned and operated business – with multiple generations working at all levels, from agents to managers.The leadership within the company is LOCAL – not out of state – but right here in Hampton Roads.