Well Served Shorts: Chef spotlight on Eric Rivera in Montgomery, Alabama

Plus, destination dining at the Hermitage Hotel, a roadside food hall, and our recommendations for Kentucky bourbon getaways


Chef Eric Rivera

Photo courtesy of Ravello Ristorante


While visiting the town of Ravello along Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 2019, Eric Rivera fell for the place and the food. Last summer, the Montgomery, Alabama, chef opened Ravello Ristorante in a 1920s downtown building that once housed a Federal Reserve bank. In the process, he discovered Montgomery had a northern Italian sister city, Pietrasanta, leading him to broker a culinary exchange program—bringing chefs from Italy to cook at special events in Montgomery, and vice versa.

Alabama Meets Italy | “Our Gamberetto di Calabria uses Gulf shrimp marinated in Calabrian chiles and chile oil, then grilled over pecan wood. It’s served with puree made from lemon rinds and topped with crushed pistachios and fried basil leaves. It’s a light dish with a great coastal flavor.”

Gamberetto di Calabria

Photo courtesy of Ravello Ristorante

No-Fuss Nosh | “The Ndunderi al Limone is a ricotta gnocchi with lemon juice, fresh sage, and pecorino cheese. It’s a classic, simple dish and a crowd favorite.”

Drinks with a View | “Our rooftop bar is the first one in Montgomery, and spring is the perfect time to sip a cocktail up there. Our Amalfitano is made with Olmeca Altos Plata tequila and includes kumquat cordial and blood orange. It’s fantastic.”

DESTINATION: Drusie & Darr

Nashville’s iconic Hermitage Hotel now has a signature restaurant by another icon: Jean- Georges Vongerichten. The famed chef showcases regional produce—some sourced directly from the hotel’s garden at Glen Leven—in seasonal American dishes such as sea bass, lobster, and prime beef cuts. The contemporary restaurant’s name honors sister and brother Drusie and Darr Hall, who grew up at the Hermitage in the 1960s while their father, Dick Hall, was the hotel’s beloved general manager.

ROAD GRUB: Old North State Food Hall

Eating on the road doesn’t have to mean fast-food chains. Case in point: The I-95 corridor in Selma, North Carolina, is home to the nation’s first independent roadside food hall. Stop at the 15,000-square-foot emporium for a variety of chef-driven options, including barbecue at CockADoodleMoo, fried chicken at Fuku, empanadas at Aroma de Cuba, or ice cream and cookies at Butter Cream.

SIP & STAY: Kentucky Bourbon Getaways

Chateau Bourbon | LOUISVILLE
This B&B near Louisville encourages relaxation with six porches and patios, plus a “Sips and Sweets” happy hour with cocktails accompanied by desserts and confections. Wake up to a bourbon-inspired breakfast, such as bourbon granola or French toast with buttered- bourbon maple syrup.

Exterior of the Chateau Bourbon

Photo courtesy of the Chateau Bourbon

The Samuels House | SAMUELS
Owned by the family behind Maker’s Mark, this 200-year-old property sits on two bucolic acres filled with mature oaks and horse pastures. Enjoy access to a chef’s kitchen with a specialty whiskey icemaker, and look forward to a meal (or even just a drink) in the old- fashioned parlor displaying historic whiskey bottles.

An extension of Castle & Key Distillery, this circa-1815 home has three rooms that sleep up to eight guests. Create a bourbon cocktail at the fully stocked bar and sip it while sitting on the back porch, or enjoy a movie or board game in an inviting living room overlooking the Kentucky River.

The Stone House by Castle & Key

Photo courtesy of Castle & Key


This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Southbound.