> Location: Nashville, Tennessee
For 37 years, until it announced its permanent pandemic-related closing this year, Spiaggia was the go-to restaurant in Chicago for high-end Italian cuisine — and for 35 of those years, Tony Mantuano was the chef, winning a Michelin star, James Beard Awards, and many other accolades. Lucky Nashville: He has moved there, and now runs this superlative Italian place. The fare is authentic and often unusual — for instance, fried squash flowers with ricotta and pesto, ravioli-like pansotti with summer greens and walnuts, and rabbit with pancetta and crêpe-like testaroli pasta.
32. The Barn at Blackberry Farm
> Location: Walland, Tennessee
The elegantly set dining room in a turn-of-the-century barn at this renowned resort property serves multi-course menus of “Foothills Cuisine” based on Appalachian ingredients. Chef Cassidee Dabney’s creations might include crab with crispy Carolina brown rice, North Carolina mountain trout with charred zucchini purée, and smoked pork short rib with charred cabbage and pickled garlic. The extensive wine list is justly renowned.
33. Mama Chang
> Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Legendary Chinese chef Peter Chang has Sichuan-focused restaurants in a number of locations around Virginia and Maryland (plus one in Stamford, Connecticut). His latest, Mama Chang, is more upscale than usual and features home-style recipes inspired by his grandmother, mother, wife, and daughter, with an emphasis on Sichuan, Hunan, and Hubei cuisines. Traditional dim sum are offered, as are seldom-seen dishes like lychee-flavored black pepper chicken, stir-fried shiitake with smoked pork belly, and lamb and fish ball stew with Chinese yam.
> Location: Richmond, Virginia
For years, Walter Bundy remained comparatively under the radar cooking at Lemaire, the dining room at Richmond’s Jefferson Hotel. Now he’s front and center at his own place, named for the region’s shagbark hickory tree — accents of which appear throughout the dining room. Among the things Bundy’s Southern- and Tidewater-leaning menu might offer are chicken-fried Chesapeake Bay oysters, fried oven-cured green tomatoes with creamy grits, and a slow-grilled molasses-glazed pork chop with Vidalia onion rings.
35. The Inn at Little Washington
> Location: Washington, Virginia
The restaurant at chef Patrick O’Connell’s elegant little luxury hotel is the only establishment in the metropolitan D.C. area to have earned a coveted three stars from the Guide Michelin. The self-taught O’Connell has earned a reputation as one of the most original chefs in the country — he’s been called “the Pope of American Cuisine” — for creations like carpaccio of herb-crusted baby lamb loin with Caesar salad ice cream, fennel-dusted Pacific halibut with garden vegetables and tarragon-shrimp dumplings, and pepper-crusted Long Island duck breast with brandy-roasted peaches and pain perdu.
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