By Angela Blue
Photos by Jim Pile
“I want to slow down and enjoy the little things in life,” Jim Pile, our staff photographer, remarks as we drive from a photoshoot. Jim is approaching retirement after 32 years with our publishing company, where he’s taken millions of photographs and traveled hundreds of thousands of miles. And if anyone deserves to slow down a little, it’s Jim.
Having wrapped up this issue’s final photo, we’re already planning the next issue’s photography assignments. Most often we communicate about photography needs via phone or email (and recently via text, as Jim has savvied up and purchased his first smartphone). But now with our meeting opportunities dwindling and with the next issue being the last one we’ll plan together, we take this opportunity to meet in person for lunch.
Today’s rainy weather amplifies our appetites, so we opt for Italian fare at Al Fresco, located at Oyster Point Square in Newport News. Inside, white tablecloths and sophisticated black chairs contribute to the upscale atmosphere, while full-sized murals on each wall blissfully transport patrons to Italy. The cuisine here is inspired from Northern and Southern Italy, featuring modern interpretations of traditional dishes.
We begin with mussels sautéed with roasted red and yellow peppers in a delicate cream sauce. The mussels are plump, tender and perfectly prepared, and the sauce just begs to be sopped up with the garlicky, herbed bread that comes standard with each meal. Next, I order the salmon picatta with Roma tomatoes, mushrooms and capers served in a bright, tangy lemon and white wine sauce and topped with a cluster of fresh basil. Jim chooses the rich and creamy lobster ravioli. Lobster finished with drawn butter, herbs and ricotta mousse is piped into ravioli pods and finished in a light pink cream sauce. A circle of shrimp embellishes the center of the dish. Both meals are hearty, but with flavors so satisfying, neither of us have room for regrets. We do, however, have room for dessert. Al Fresco’s tiramisu is a luscious layering of soaked ladyfingers, creamy mascarpone and drizzled chocolate—a sinfully divine treat that, alone, is worth a trip here.
During our meal, we notice several other business lunches in progress, and the serene atmosphere here makes it an ideal place to do so. As the lunchtime crowd fades and meetings conclude, we watch satisfied professionals sprint back to finish the workday. On any ordinary outing, Jim and I would do the same. But for today, we take time to slow down and enjoy the little things.
Al Fresco is located at 11710 Jefferson Ave., Newport News. Call 757-873-0644, or visit AlFrescoItalianRestaurant.com for more info and to book a reservation. For larger meetings, Al Fresco offers the Terrazza Room, a sunlight-filled indoor patio, which can seat up to 60 guests.