As a young boy, Andrew Ferlazzo would ride his bicycle on Davis Street often passing one of the oldest buildings in Culpeper. The dreams of opening a restaurant in a building that once served as a Civil War jail for both Union and Confederate soldiers was planted early. For most, memories of this building date to the early 1900s when it was Yowell Hardware Co. Inc.
A 30-year veteran in the restaurant industry, Ferlazzo has worked for France’s Master Chef Alain LeComte and the LeDuc family when they owned Prince Michel Winery. He has had apprenticeships throughout Europe.
He opened Kirsten’s of Culpeper in 2002 with Chef Virginia Burton. That establishment was sold in 2005. Ferlazzo spent the next decade as an industry consultant with family-owned restaurants on the East coast.
And then in 2016 he learned that the historic building where he envisioned a restaurant was for sale. At last, a dream fulfilled.
Finally rooted in his native Culpeper and with a passion for offering farm-to-table cuisine in a historical setting, Ferlazzo named his restaurant Grass Rootes. A bill of sale from 1790 has Thomas Reade Rootes as the original owner.
Open since June of 2016, Grass Rootes is one of the newest additions to the menu of restaurant offerings in downtown Culpeper.
“It’s my restaurant, his kitchen,” laughs Ferlazzo describing Chef Kevin Scott who commandeers the inner sanctum while he takes charge of the front operations.
Finding Scott could be one of Ferlazzo’s most serendipitous moments. When he saw his resume, a graduate of the L’Academie de Cuisine, a French cooking school in Gaithersburg, Maryland as well as high profile work in the kitchens of the Georgetown Club under Chef Pascal Dionot, The Watergate Hotel, under Jean-Louis Palladin, 2941 under Jonathon Krinn and the Old Ebbitt Grill, under Chef Robert McGowan, he couldn’t believe his find.
Now, would Scott move to Culpeper.
Turns out that when they spoke, Scott shared that they had just enrolled their daughter in school in Culpeper.
The two are a match made in culinary heaven – each has their strengths – they are a team and together they have created a menu that represents dozens of local farms in the area.
“I could talk about food all day long,” beams Scott who met his wife Territa while they were in culinary school together. His grandmother, Olive, is perhaps his main influence when it comes to cooking. Watching her and the gift to his family that her cooking brought was inspirational. He wanted to do it too.
One of the restaurant’s signature salads has a bacon/onion dressing (that Kevin and Territa created) that will keep you guessing as well as eating. It’s delicious and when combined with fresh spinach from Corvallis Farms and goat cheese from the valley is a dish that will bring you back.
Ferlazzo has added live music Thursday through Saturdays. The music is meant to complement not distract restaurant goers from enjoying their meals.
It’s all about ambiance and pleasing the customer.
His decades of being a seasoned maitre d are also deeply rooted.
Plans are in the works to utilize the downstairs section of the restaurant but for now, Grass Rootes Kitchen and Cocktail anchors the upper level.
“We do this because we are passionate about food,” says Ferlazzo.
Located at 195 E. Davis Street, 540-764-4229