by Charles McGuigan
It’s an esteemed spot on the southeast corner of Once Upon a Vine’s parking lot on MacArthur Avenue, a spot synonymous in Northside with fine dining at a reasonable price. And that tradition continues today with Mike McGrath’s Gallo Blanco: Rustic Flatbreads.
Not long after Bob Kocher opened the wine and beer shop back in 2004, he leased that portion of his property to Jamie Dickerson who opened a lunch wagon there called Jazzbo’s Rollin’ Gumbo, which he ran until his death. Later, there was Bob Harr who gave us Ginter Parked. The food at both places was exceptional, and reasonably price.
Over the years, Mike has honed his skills in the back of the house. While attending college at Coastal Carolina University, he worked his share of bars and restaurants in nearby Myrtle Beach. Later, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado he managed a kitchen called the Tap House. He spent four years at The Grill on Patterson Avenue. “And I’ve worked at various other places in the city,” he says.
Mike had been toying with the idea of a food truck for some time. He bought an old ice cream truck, tricked it out with a kitchen, a new service window (that he pried off of an old RV in a junkyard), a double-tier pizza oven, and painted it all a glossy black.
“With food trucks you need to able to be fast because people will only wait a certain amount of time,” says Mike. “Nothing performs like the ceramic oven. We keep it at about 500 degrees and we can do six at a time.”
Since a soft opening on September 15, Gallo Blanco has already become a neighborhood hit. “Two of our most popular flatbreads are the natural sausage that we smoke ourselves, and the smoked pork with the pickled onions, that we pickle,” Mike says. “And the Margherita is extremely popular. It’s vegetarian with all fresh produce—tomatoes and basil. We buy all our vegetables from local farmers’ markets.”
On Saturday and Sunday Mike and his staff also serve breakfast flatbreads for both meat lovers and vegetarians. “We have gluten free crusts for those who want it,” he says.
Now that cooler weather is here, Gallo Blanco is also offering soups. “We did a chipotle sweet potato with garlic toast for five dollars,” says Mike.
Mike is already looking ahead to spring, when Gallo Blanco will feature a variety of salads. “Again, everything will be fresh and local,” Mike McGrath says. “That’s the key to great meals.”
Gallo Blanco: Rustic Flatbreads
Tues-Fri 4-8; Sat 11-8; Sun 11-4
Parking lot of Once Upon A Vine
4009 MacArthur Avenue
Richmond, VA 23227