Carmela’s at the Loft

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Brings a Trendy Dining Experience to Timberlake Road
PHOTOS BY Lindsay Carico, Capture Photography

After working as a contractor for 30 years, Ralph Palmisano decided to put all of his focus on what really matters to him: food and family. He began the process of building and branding Carmela’s at the Loft seven years ago and finally celebrated opening night on October 8, 2018.

Since then, the Timberlake Road restaurant has been busy serving up a completely house made menu. The restaurant staff proudly grows their own herbs—such as basil, oregano, parsley, mint, chives, and thyme—to add flavor to the food. Many of their recipes have been passed down through Ralph’s family for generations and are truly original and authentic. A few dishes have started to stand out as customer favorites such as the Bolognese Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, Seafood Risotto and Spaghetti with Meatballs.

Unlike many traditional restaurant structures, Carmela’s does not have an executive chef; instead, several experienced chefs share the ownership, responsibility, and outcomes for the executive chef role. Evan Hill, a graduate of Central Virginia Community College’s Culinary Arts program, shares the lead role with Eugene Robinson. Eugene started cooking with his full-blooded Italian grandmother when he was 10 and later attended Johnson and Wales. “I want people to enjoy my food, the atmosphere, and to feel as if they are at home,” said Eugene.

Roger Whorley and Jacob Pribble assist with operations and round out the kitchen team. Katelyn Foster is the restaurant’s pastry chef and Palmisano says she is a magician when it comes to desserts. She is best known for her bourbon-infused, salted caramel glazed, New York Italian–style cheesecake with praline pecans.

A sophisticated Sunday brunch can be hard to come by in the Timberlake area but Carmela’s is steadily building a big brunch business thanks to word of mouth and social media. The goal is to eventually serve brunch on Saturdays and utilize their outdoor patio as the weather warms.

The restaurant’s wine list nicely complements the menu with a variety of California wines in addition to Italian wines. Carmela’s also is stocked with a variety of craft beers and popular generic beers—the beer selection is growing as a result of customer feedback. Customers can also enjoy a specialty cocktail from the restaurant’s full bar.

Carmela’s is a dream that’s been decades in the making for Ralph. Now, as he starts to see his hard work pay off, he thanks those in the community who eagerly awaited the opening of the restaurant and have become regular customers.

“I am so appreciative for their loyal support and following. Their feedback is what I depend on for continuous improvement,” he said. “I want this restaurant to be a unique dining experience where customers are wowed with exceptional service, wowed with the quality of the food, and wowed with the overall experience.”

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About Author

Rachel Dalton comes from a restaurant marketing and management background in Richmond but now is a wife, mother, writer, exercise enthusiast, very amateur chef, traveler, super planner, dog rescuer and lover of all things local to her new hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia.

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