Yes, much of the menu at newly opened Little Saint in Richmond, Va., is on the lighter side. Choices like raw oysters, a kohlrabi “noodle” bowl topped with sautéed greens, roasted tomatoes and house veggie broth, or Chef Alex’s Bangin’ Vegan Chili are designed to enable those who want to go a little lighter to do so easily without compromising on flavor—hence the restaurant name, Little Saint.
But then there are dishes like the Autumn Olives Farm Pork for Two. A combination of Autumn Olive Farms pork butt, belly and loin prepared three ways creates a feast for two and is served with a creamy bowl of grits, fried kale, and three sauces—Dijonaise, pork jus, and seasonal jam. This dish easily fed two alongside appetizers with plenty of leftovers, but as chef Alex Enggist puts it, “If you want to come in, order the pork for two for one and go full-on sinner, I’m all about it.”
Little Saint is the first restaurant to be opened by Frances Santarella, wife of late Ted Santarella, who took over as head of Tarrant’s restaurants and Max’s on Broad after he passed away. Santarella means “Little Saint” in Italian and with the restaurant’s location in the Devil’s Triangle, the name just seemed to fit. Sean Rapoza is the restaurant’s general manager and he also came from Tarrant’s West.
The Design of Little Saint
When I stopped in last week, I was struck by the quick changes from Deco, a restaurant I also loved dearly. Deco’s art deco concept has been totally overhauled for something that feels very fresh and modern with lots of light, white walls and greenery. Local partners listed on Little Saint’s website doesn’t simply include farmers and drink makers—they span woodworkers, eco-friendly fabric makers, wallpaper designers, lighting artists, and energy saving consultants.
The Menu at Little Saint
The menu spans a fun range of flavors. Of course, I had to taste the Rockfish Skin “Chicharrones” that are a signature dish. Crunchy fried fish skins and tasty pearls of trout roe are served around a generous helping of smoked rockfish dip. The dish is named for the fish skins, which are crunchy, fishy and flavorful, but I honestly think the fish dip is the star of this dish. It’s smoky, creamy and blended with just the right amount of seasonings. It does not appear to be available on the breakfeast/lunch menu with a bagel… I personally would love to see this menu addition. Just saying!
At Chef Alex’s suggestion I also sampled the fried cauliflower. If the word “fried” makes you think breading, think again. This cauliflower is just fried crisp and finished with a zesty explosion of seasoning, including aminos, which have a deep savory flavor similar to soy sauce but less salty, and nutritional yeast, an ingredient with a unique flavor that is often used in cheese substitutes, that makes the vegetable anything but boring.
I also couldn’t resist the Gorgonzola pimento cheese plate, because pimento cheese. This pimento was more dense than creamy and filled with sharp flavor from the Gorgonzola. I loved it! In fact, it kind of reminded me of an old favorite pimento cheese of mine—Miss Bonnie’s—that used to be sold in grocery stores around Richmond, Va. Served with house-made pickles, benne wafers, and salty Edwards ham, this little appetizer platter makes a nice, shareable spread.
For an entrée, as mentioned, the pork for two was a definite winner. Each type of pork presented a different texture and flavor as did the accompanying sauces. The grits were creamy and flavorful and the kale was fried crisp and topped with a sweet maple sauce. Even professed non-kale-lovers at my table couldn’t complain about this indulgent execution.
Drinks at Little Saint
Complementing the menu, the drinks list seems to focus on natural, organic, and Virginia spirits. I tasted the Belmont Farm Hospitality Daiquiri, a boozy blend of Kopper Kettle Chai Spice Rum, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram and fresh pineapple. The menu proclaimed, “This drink Tikis hard AF,” and I had to agree. Make sure you read the whole drink menu—each cocktail includes a little descriptor and a lot of attitude.
Dessert at Little Saint
Desserts span Gelati Celesti ice cream, a S’more Pop Tart, a waffle ice cream sandwich, and what I had to try, the Funfetti Cake, which arrived complete with a lit candle even though it wasn’t my birthday!
The breakfast and lunch menu is one in the same and is served daily beginning at 10 a.m. Stop in soon and try this new, eclectic addition to Richmond’s dining scene.