By Dolores Kostelni
Special to The Roanoke Times
The River and Rail, a cozy new restaurant named for Roanoke’s river and railroad heritage, is located in the landmark Lipes Pharmacy building in south Roanoke. It opened in June and showcases Southern bistro food.
The unpretentious, handsome decor goes well with the down-to-earth preparations, which are a combination of fresh seasonal ingredients from local and regional producers brought together through the culinary expertise of executive chef Aaron Deal and his staff.
Deal developed an appreciation for fresh food from his mother and grandmother, who transformed garden harvests into family meals. He refined his own cooking skills in culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, S.C., then landed plum jobs at acclaimed restaurants in Charleston and Chicago before coming to Virginia to intern at Town House in Chilhowie. After a stint in Cambridge, Mass., he was discovered by the owners of the Lipes building, who wanted to share his cooking with others.
Deal said he takes pride in knowing that everything served at The River and Rail is made in-house from the finest, freshest ingredients. Many of his dishes, as well as the family style in which some of them are served, recapture the mealtime pleasures he enjoyed while growing up.
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