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From Hampton Roads Magazine (2006)

Hampton Roads Magazine presents the 2005/2006 Platinum Plate Awards
By Patrick Evans-Hylton

No one can deny that Hampton Roads is a food town. Across the region, some 2,000 restaurants do not require you to motor up and yell your order into a microphone strategically placed in a clown's head.

From Williamsburg to the northern part of the Outer Banks, from Western Tidewater up the Eastern Shore, there is no lack of places to sit down and enjoy a meal. We all have our favorite spots based on varying criteria, from quality of food and service to ambiance and price.

Food critics have their favorites too, and for the last four years we've asked them to share their choices with us. This article presents those findings and gives each of the 50 on the list a Hampton Roads Magazine Platinum Plate Award for making the grade.

The list is varied, from casual eateries to upscale dining. There are restaurants represented across the region and across cuisine types. So, what can we learn from the critics' selections? Mainly that good restaurants aren't easily defined. They can be local, independent eateries or chain restaurants; when people dine out, they are primarily concerned with innovative, quality food; value pricing; and attentive service. While we love to root for the home team?and there are many outstanding homegrown choices - we can't ignore great food, even if the restaurant headquarters are in New York City.

They can be upscale or down-to-earth; good food doesn't wear a jacket and tie or formal evening gown. Foodies relish in beautifully executed meals, and that can be a Carolina-style barbecue sandwich dripping with sauce and topped with creamy cole slaw or a perfectly prepared Chateaubriand.

They can be geographically diverse; our critics located food finds all across Hampton Roads, from Williamsburg and the Peninsula to Norfolk's Granby Street Restaurant Row, Virginia Beach's burgeoning Town Center and a smattering here and there in Chesapeake, Suffolk and elsewhere in our region.

The one thing all 50 restaurants do have in common - they can all be found right here.

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que
447 East Rochambeau, Williamsburg

In 1971 Julius C. "Doc" Pierce moved from Tennessee to Virginia with his mother's 70-year-old secret sauce and the desire to serve up some good barbecue. He succeeded. The quaint, unpretentious dining room dishes out a variety of menu offerings like burgers, dogs and chicken. Don't bother. Go for the Super Doc: a large roll stuffed with tender, slow-cooked, pulled-pork barbecue covered in special sauce and layered with homemade slaw, cheese and diced onions.

Critics' Comments: "My car automatically pulls off of I-64 for a Pierce's pit stop." "Best barbecue north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line." "Thirty-plus years of barbecue perfection." "In a region that considers barbecue more of a religion than foodstuff, Pierce's is the Pope of pulled pork."

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