Belmont Pizzeria co-owner, Victor Guevara and his wife, Melinda, are opening their own pizzeria in Shockoe Bottom, in the former The Halligan Bar and Grill space.
"I fell in love with it down there," Guevara said of Shockoe Bottom.
Guevara and his business partner, Sal Nuara, opened the first Belmont Pizzeria in the Museum District in 2010 and the second location in Short Pump in 2016. Their Sicilian-style pizza has been named "the best" in numerous reader choice polls around town. But now Guevara is trying his hand at something new with Carmela's.
Carmela's, which is named for his wife's grandmother, will feature pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven and a menu with everything - including the desserts - made in-house. The menu is still in the works, but Guevara said charcuterie, entree salads and cheese plates will likely be on the final menu. Plus pizza. Lots of pizza.
"Honestly, my wife has a lot to do with this one. She's the foodie in the family," Guevara said. "We saw it as a really good opportunity."
Guevara said he and his brother happened to be in Shockoe Bottom last year and that's what sold him on opening a restaurant in the neighborhood.
"I hadn't been down to Shockoe Bottom in years," he said. "Years. It was one of those areas that.. I hate to say forgotten or neglected, but it was like everything was standing still."
Guevara said he was impressed by the work on the revitalized 17th Street Farmers' Market - which opened in November after a 16 month, $3.5 million renovation - as well as the new Main Street Station train shed.
"There's a real perseverance from the city to make [Shockoe Bottom] a beacon," he said. "That was the real driving force."
Guevara noted that other new restaurants and business are starting to move in, such as Hot Chick: A Fried Chicken Joint, which opened on Jan. 23 at 7 N. 17th St.
Carmela's is located next door at 3 N. 17th St. and both will have cafe seating on the newly renovated 17th Street Farmers’ Market in spring.
Carmela's should open in early March and will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.