In a clearing in the middle of a dry pine plantation, a brewer with a passion for English-style beer has built a welcome watering hole.
Just down the road, a family of Italian food specialists has opened a bar to entice boaters to enjoy an exotic drink.
John Pope, of Cooling Pond Brewery, and the Taorminas, who operate The Lounge above Vito’s Italian Restaurant and Grill, have given Lake Anna’s bar scene a significant boost since they opened in March.
Cooling heels at the pond
Pope became a beer aficionado while stationed in Scotland with the United States Navy. In particular, he grew fond of English beers like bitters and stouts. These are the beverages he began experimenting with in his lakeside garage in recent years, and what visitors will find on the chalkboard menu at the Cooling Pond.
“When people say they like everything on there, that would be our biggest compliment,” Pope said. “I want people to just enjoy the beer and enjoy being in this place.”
The name of the establishment pays affectionate tribute to North Anna Power Station. At 3:30 p.m. on a recent weekday afternoon, a troop of power plant workers files in to try out the drinks and enjoy the sunshine on the outdoor deck. By evening, a more diverse crowd of lakers arrives.
Many of the beers are named to honor local taverns that historically satisfied citizens’ thirst, from Boswell’s Tavern in western Louisa County to Penny’s, Wigglesworth and Mudd’s Tavern, all former Spotsylvania County landmarks.
Lounging by the water
Rosie Taormina started Vito’s at Lake Anna Plaza and New Bridge in 2015. Now the young chef is branching out with The Lounge, which will soon have an outdoor deck with a fine view across the lake.
It’s a family affair at Vito’s, now that the restaurant’s namesake has closed his Ashland business and joined his son in the kitchen. Rosie’s wife, Nikki, sister, Rosalia, and brother Carlo also help out.
Taormina’s vision is to draw in boaters who dock by the bridge as well as those arriving by car. The owners of Lake Anna Plaza and the former visitors’ center across the parking lot plan to install 48 new boat slips for public use. Boaters will be able to hang out by the docks while they wait for a table at the restaurant or lounge, he said.
(Article by David Holtzman)
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s 2019 Lure of Lake Anna guide.