Although you can still find countless restaurants around Virginia that serve heaping plates, many restaurants have shifted their focus to small bites. This concept allows the table to share and experience different aspects of the menu without spending a small fortune.

Voting has ended for the first of five competitions in this year's Virginia Culinary Challenge Winner - Small Bites Categoryis for Food Lover’s Culinary Challenge. We received dozens of nominations and narrowed the Small Bites category down to twelve finalists.  After four days of voting, the winner, with 37% of the vote, is Kybecca of Fredericksburg followed by Trattoria Villagio in Clifton with 22% and Pasture of Richmond with 7%.

The next category for the Culinary Challenge is Burgers and Barbecue. Voting begins Monday, March 28 at 9am.

  kybecca - Fredericksburg Kybecca kybecca is a craft bar & restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg that sources many of its ingredients locally, valuing the plethora of fresh produce that Virginia has to offer by highlighting these items both in the kitchen and behind the bar. The restaurant distinguishes itself by using modern cooking techniques with no shortcuts to ensure excellent quality at a reasonable price. The craft cocktails feature originals and the bartenders are well trained to make drinks to your taste. Juices are fresh squeezed and syrups and other cocktail ingredients are all made in house. Guests are encouraged to share, explore, and most importantly, have fun. Small Bite Standouts:
  • House Smoked Duck
  • Pimento Fritters
  • Lobster Spring Rolls
  Trattoria Villagio - Clifton Trattoria Villagio Trattoria Villagio combines the elegance of a Roman Trattoria with the fun and bustle of an Italian train station. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Trattoria Villagio is renowned for its extensive wine selection, salimaria and hand crafted pasta dishes. It’s a perfect location for a quick snack, a lingering meal, a big group, a family night out, or even large social gatherings. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Crostini Villagio (A Trio of Crispy, Thick Sliced Baguettes with Bruschetta, Bruschetta di Modena, and Gambori e Avocado toppings)
  • Shrimp Badda-Bing! (Tender, Crispy Shrimp tossed in a Creamy, Spicy Sauce)
  • Melanzana Alla Parmigiana (Battered and Fried Eggplant Slices Layered with Tomato Sauce, Basil, and Parmigiana Cheese)
  Pasture - Richmond pasture Located in the heart of Richmond's historic downtown shopping district, Pasture is a southern restaurant with a focus on local products. The restaurant’s features a carefully curated selection of small plates (and some big plates) to share and be enjoyed by the whole table. They use only the best products from a group of some of Virginia’s best farmers and producers. Local ham, Virginia cheeses, fresh fish and shell fish, meat, and vegetables all make their way onto the menu seasonally. Pasture’s extensive craft beer list is Virginia heavy, with all of the beers coming from east of the Mississippi River. They also feature an excellent craft cocktail program with original drinks and twists on the classics. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Crispy Ham Cured Pork Ribs with Alabama White Sauce
  • Fried Clams, Spicy Slaw, and Tartar Sauce
  • Steak Tartare, Jalapeno, Chili Ketchup, and Quail Egg on Crostini
  Trummer’s on Main – Clifton Trummers on Main Owned by husband and wife team, Victoria and Stefan Trummer, Trummer's on Main embodies warm, family-owned and neighborhood dining at its best. A combination of Executive Chef Austin Faussett's playground of memorable and elevated cuisine that highlights the local, seasonal offerings as well as a nationally lauded cocktail list and a wine list that boasts one of the largest in Virginia, Trummer's on Main has become a Virginia destination that not only captures small town charm fit for Clifton's historical setting, but its elegance and elevated culinary program make it a truly special and one-of-a kind gem. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Miniature Smoked Trout Amuse Bouche
  • Pan Roasted Maryland Monkfish
  • Braised Venison Osso Bucco
  Cochon on 2nd - Williamsburg Cochon on 2nd Cochon on 2nd is a locally owned and operated restaurant located in Williamsburg. In addition to using Virginia sourced ingredients, the owner and chef, Neil Griggs, wanted to incorporate Virginia into the actual restaurant location. He took the wood from his grandfather’s barn in Suffolk that dated back to 1943 and used it in the kitchen, dining room, and bar. The barn was taken apart and reassembled to create a very comfortable dining experience that reflects Chef Griggs deep roots in Virginia. Cochon on 2nd features the only wood-burning grill in the area. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Thai Sticky Ribs
  • Carla’s Fried Oyster Cocktail
  • Fire Cracker Shrimp
  Merroir - Topping Merroir oysters Merroir is a riverfront gourmet oyster tasting house in Topping, Virginia that is located directly beside the Rappahannock Oyster Company farm distribution area. In addition to locally sourced oysters, the restaurant also uses a variety of other ingredients from different Virginia regions. Pair your meal with one of the four craft brews on tap, dozens of world-famous wines, or one of the bottled beers from the carefully curated, seasonal list. The owners call Merroir a “tasting room,” just so people know to expect something different. Everything is either served raw or cooked on an outdoor grill, small-plate-style, and beautifully paired with craft brews and world-famous wines. Each menu item is singularly-focused, seasonal, and ever-changing, so there’s always a surprise in store. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Raw Oysters
  • Stuffin Muffin (Oyster Stuffing covered in Gravy)
  • Lamb & Clam Stew
  1608 Crafthouse – Virginia Beach 1608 crafthouse 1608 Crafthouse features sustainable, local products from the Chesapeake Bay/Mid-Atlantic region. The restaurant’s goal is to provide a unique, affordable experience so that diners can sample some of the best regional foods without spending a fortune.  Delicious dishes are augmented with an extensive list of craft beers and inventive cocktails, served up from a retro-style bar. 1608’s Chef and Owner, Kevin Sharkey, is an award-winning Chefs with years of experience in a variety of venues, including some of Virginia Beach’s finest restaurants. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Poutine (House-cut Fries with Cheese Curbs, Oxtail Chili, Fried Egg, and Green Onions)
  • Lamb Meatballs
  • Oysters of the Day
  Girasole – The Plains girasole Chef-owned and operated, Girasole uses only the freshest ingredients to create authentic, regional Italian menus. In the picturesque village of The Plains, you’ll experience exceptional service, a relaxing European atmosphere, and the highest quality food and wine. The award-winning menus are rotated to coincide with the seasonal offerings of the area.  Produce from local farms, grass-fed naturally raised meats, truffles hand-selected from Italy, hand-pressed olive oils from small Italian orchards all inspire Chef Patierno to create a “spirited” menu, a natural complement to his innate artistry.  The pasta is made fresh daily, be it stuffed or formed, and desserts follow original recipes from France, Switzerland, and Italy. Come enjoy a bit of European elegance in the heart of Virginia’s Hunt Country. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Calamari Fritti
  • Mozzarella e Peperoni Arrosto (Roasted Peppers with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella)
  • Cozze Gratinate O Marinara (Prince Edward Island Mussels with Breadcrumbs or Marinara Sauce)
  Nostos - Vienna Nostos “Nostos” is at the root of the word nostalgia and means a return to one’s origins, a longing for a special time in our past. Nostos shares this past with you and stimulate your senses with a variety of traditional and new Greek dishes. Nostos presents a fresh, modern take on Greek culinary culture. They offer a wide variety of “mezedes”, or small sharing-sized dishes, which are an integral part of Greek dining and reflect the idea that eating is about sharing and socializing. Whether to pair with food or simply for the pleasure of your palate, Nostos’ drink menu has over fifty distinct wines from several different regions of Greece. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Htapodi (Grilled Octopus served with Fava Puree)
  • Bakaliarakia Me Skordalia (Fresh Fried Cod Bites served with Potato Garlic Puree and Marinated Beets)
  • Biftekakia (Greek-style Meatballs served with Tzatziki)
  Graffiato - Richmond Graffiato Chef Isabella’s seasonal small plates are inspired by the food he grew up eating in New Jersey prepared by his Italian-American grandmother. With heavy influence from Chef Isabella’s Mediterranean and Latin culinary training, Graffiato is anything but a traditional Italian eatery. Roasted potato gnocchi, chicken thighs with pepperoni sauce, charred octopus and roasted cauliflower are a few of the signature dishes you will find on the menu. Much of the wine and beer are sourced domestically, and often from the East Coast. Look for unique cocktails, domestic wine and Prosecco served straight from a tap. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Potato Gnocchi
  • Mediterranean Sea Bass
  • Grilled Sirloin Bisteca
  Brabo Tasting Room - Alexandria Brabo Tasting Room Set in a 150-year-old historic building, traditional and contemporary unite throughout BRABO Tasting Room, a casual and lively spot in the midst of Old Town Alexandria. This inviting setting offers the ideal platform for the tasty inspirations of Chef Wiedmaier and Chef de Cuisine Chris Watson. The innovative menu of sociable café fare takes its cues from traditional Belgian cuisine and the seasonal bounty of the mid-Atlantic region. Grab a seat at our handcrafted 11-seat zinc bar or in the dining room, recently revitalized by renowned designer Vincente Wolf, to sample the wine list and explore beers from Belgium and beyond with your small bite samples. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Robert’s Signature Mussels
  • Classical Charcuterie and Artisanal Cheese Platters
  • Woodfire Tarts, like the Serrano Ham and Clam Bianco
  Restaurant Eve – Alexandria Restaurant Eve  The husband and wife team of Dublin-native Chef Cathal Armstrong and his restaurant veteran wife, Meshelle Armstrong, have created Restaurant Eve - a passion based on experience and a name lent by their first child. Located in Old Town Alexandria, this historic warehouse building is now converted into a quaint yet sophisticated 100 seat restaurant offering two unique dining experiences in separate rooms. “The Chef’s Tasting Room” and “The Bistro.” The 34 seat destination Tasting Room is Chef Armstrong’s culinary showcase of "Modern American Cooking with Classical French Influences". Here he features five and nine course prix fixe tasting menus, highlighting the freshest of seasonal ingredients and local Virginia produce. Small Bite Standouts:
  • Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Heirloom Carrots, Baby Ginger, and Cilantro
  • Terrine of Foie Gras with Toasted Brioche and Poached Asian Pears
  • Loin of Pasture Raised Beef with Vermont Cranberry Beans and Yellow Finn Potatoes