If you haven’t yet discovered Ambrogia Caffè & Enoteca in Cape Charles, you’re missing an incredible experience.
The official ribbon cutting for Ambrogia was July 31st, but people have been buzzing about it for quite some time. Ambrogia is a departure from the ordinary here in Cape Charles. This is intensely authentic Italian food— handcrafted and artisan inspired—in an intimate downtown space with a low key but hip vibe. We had the pleasure of chatting with one of Ambrogia’s owners, Cristina Carollo about dreams, fresh starts and really good food.
It was an adventurous road that led Dr. Cristina Carollo from her hometown near Milan, Italy, to Cape Charles. She took the long way, via oceanographic studies in England, post-doc at the University of Chicago, then coastal research in the Gulf of Mexico, both in Florida and Texas. Finally, she arrived in Cape Charles, for a stint as Senior Coastal Scientist at The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve.
How does she now find herself surrounded by the nostalgic Italian aromas and fresh flavors from her Milan childhood? As Cristina will tell it, a bit of luck and a love of food.
“I’m a foodie. And I love to bake. I’m a scientist, you know, and baking is like a science,” Cristina explains. “I love flavors. I really missed the good, simple flavor from fresh products from my childhood in Italy. And the smells…the fresh herbs, tomatoes and onions…I love that.”
When Cristina first met her then future business partner, fellow foodie (and incredible chef) Marina Goerner, at a Gull Hummock tasting event a couple of years ago, they bonded over their common interests—and gorgonzola. Marina, originally from Ukraine, had spent two decades in the restaurant scene of New York City with specialized experience in Italian cuisine. A bit of an adventurer herself, Marina had recently made Cape Charles home after several months touring the country by RV with her boyfriend.
So, when Cristina showed her a quaint space that was available at 321 Mason Avenue, perfect for an Italian restaurant, things just fell into place. Their common passion for good, fresh food and Italian flavors has now produced one of the most unique dining spots in the area—Ambrogia Caffè & Enoteca.
Ambrogia’s ingredients are sourced locally and their menu changes constantly to reflect what is in season. Guests can enjoy a full Italian wine list, and a robust, ever-changing menu offering such delights as pan seared sea scallops with onion soubise, homemade breads and pastas, decadent desserts and more. For lunch, enjoy a huge variety of panini with such delicious combinations as prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano and red bell pepper spread on homemade piadina. There’s also a flair for the dramatic—recently, they featured Squid ink ravioli with craw fish mousse in herb butter sauce, earning great acclaim from their guests.
Cristina’s favorite? “The tiramisu,” she admits. “It Is my family’s recipe and the cream is really light, fluffy and airy. People love it… and it makes me proud,” says Cristina.
Cristina and Marina have been amazed and delighted by the welcome they have received from the town. “There is nothing like Ambrogia around here,” says Cristina. “This is a place that I would want to go and eat. It’s small but it is well thought through. I suppose it could have gone the other way, as far as people being interested in it. But Cape Charles really welcomed us,” she says.
In the near future, Cristina and Marina are discussing putting on some special events and are especially pleased to be taking part in Meet At The Table on October 19th, an event put on by ESVA Tourism that celebrates the best farm-to-table food that Virginia’s Eastern Shore has to offer. More about that here: https://visitesva.com/events/listings/meet-at-the-table/
Cape Charles and the greater community has embraced Ambrogia and the two talented women whose vision and passion have brought it to life. We can certainly see why it’s receiving such great reviews—Ambrogia really is a memorable must-try for any food lover.
Experience the Italian delights of Ambrogia Caffé & Enoteca:
321 Mason Ave, Cape Charles, VA
Tuesday – Saturday
10am-11:30am – Coffee & Biscotti
11:30am-3pm – Lunch
5pm – 9pm – Dinner