Bia’s Gourmet Hardware
In the heart of downtown Asheboro, sits an unassuming, little restaurant called, Bia’s Gourmet Hardware. Oddly named perhaps, but not when you know that Bia’s is situated inside a 1920’s building that once housed a hardware store.
This history of the old McCrary Hardware building and what it used to be has been made part of the aesthetic at Bia’s. It feels industrial and a bit prohibition-era. The brick exterior, multiple levels and the obvious use of repurposed materials add to the charm. There’s a bar area, featuring local spirits, craft cocktails, beer and wine that is part of the main dining area but with a partial wall to allow for some separation. Not to knock Asheboro at all, it just doesn’t feel like Asheboro.
Brazilian born Bia Rich and her husband the general manager Eric, opened Bia’s three and a half years ago. She and her husband chose Asheboro to open their restaurant because they have family there. Bia Rich has 20 years of restaurant experience and has been in the industry her whole life.
“I came to New York City from Brazil at 16 years old and worked my way up in the restaurant industry,” Bia Rich said.
It just so happens, my fabulous mother-in-law lives there so we visited Bia’s for lunch recently and followed a few days later with dinner. We needed to really see what was happening in that kitchen, because the photos of the food that were being posted were just too beautiful to ignore. Look no further than Bia’s social media to get a temptation for your eyes and tastebuds that will have you on the road to Asheboro in no time.
Lunch at Bia’s features a relatively small and simple menu with a few appetizers, salads, sandwiches and some entrees. My mother-in-law ordered the day’s special of house chicken salad on croissant with a garden salad. Kiddos ordered chicken tenders (surprise, surprise). I was craving something simple and fresh so I opted for the spinach salad with Scottish salmon. A bit pricy at $14 but it was light and nourishing. From what I can tell, the menu changes relatively often with many fun, personally-developed creations.
At dinner, you’ll find a more extensive menu of tapas, small plates and tempting entrees. Plus you’ll find a wonderful list of local farms that Bia’s supports. “We love working with local farmer and building those relationships,” Bia Rich said. “It’s very important to us.”
You’ll find no less than a dozen or so farms featured from the Triad to the coast. As I mentioned, the photos from Bia’s social media posts might make you think about a drive to Asheboro and I spotted something that I knew I had to try. It was a small plate with diver scallops, caramelized pineapple, jasmine-ham croquette in a vibrant jerk sauce. The colors were incredible and the scallops were perfectly seared. It had some serious heat paired with the sweetness from the pineapple for a great balance of savory and sweet.
My hubby ordered an entree of Cheshire Pork Shank with lobster tamales, kale and red sauce. Obviously this dish was a hat tip to Bia’s Brazilian heritage. The pork nearly melted in your mouth. My mother-in-law went a little creole with the gumbo of shrimp,okra, crawfish, tasso and andouille. She says she would’ve liked a bit more shrimp in the bowl and that it was pretty spicy and hearty. Believe it or not, this time around, my little microfoodies opted for tapas and small bites from the bar menu for their meal. One was an order of these wonderful beef wontons with a maple sriracha chili sauce that didn’t last long at all. Another was a bar bite order of meatballs that was super flavorful.
One should never pass up a chance to try burrata, an Italian cheese dish made from mozzarella and cream. It looks like fresh mozzarella on the outside, but the inside is filled with stracciatella and cream. Prepared properly, once the exterior is pierced, the creamy interior is exposed and is wonderful for spreading or on a salad. Bia’s prepares her burrata with a sunchoke confit, golden raisins and pine nuts, it was luscious. There may have been some dessert too, for the little ones, of course, that consisted of homemade chocolate mint ice cream cookies and a chocolate pot de creme with salted caramel.
It was all quite creative and we were very impressed. The servers were knowledgeable and attentive. In the kitchen alongside Bia, is revered chef Graham Heaton, who is co-owner of Table 16 Restaurant in Greensboro. He stepped away from the kitchen last July but is back now, at Bia’s, with renewed energy and excitement for his work. The two have known each other for years and when Bia needed a partner in the kitchen and Heaton swooped right in.
“The chemistry in our kitchen is unique and it’s extremely strong,” he said. “I always said if there was one person I would work for in this area was Bia Rich and here I am.”
Because of Asheboro being “on the way” to Southern Pines, the beach and so close to the zoo, folks often need a place to catch their breath. “Our restaurant is pretty busy most nights from locals to folks who are visiting from out of town,” Bia Rich said. “We only advertise on social media and that seems to be working for us.”
When we were there on a recent Monday, the place was nicely filled, with a large group of travel writers enjoying their meal. Bia’s Gourmet Hardware has definitely been capturing some good press lately.
So is it surprising to find such a restaurant in Asheboro of all places? I don’t think so. The town is but a short 25 minute drive from Greensboro, after all. I think Asheboro is hitting its stride, with a charming downtown and entrepreneurs who have a vision to repurpose those historic buildings into something wonderful. Heaton said he and Bia Rich have a lot in common.
“You start big and you think you’re going to teach people how to eat, and then they mold what your restaurant will be,” Heaton said. “So there’s a touch of Bia here but there’s a touch of Asheboro too because at the end of the day, it’s all about putting people in the seats, making sure they’re happy. Bia’s is unique to Asheboro but to the Triad as a whole.” He adds, “We’re pushing the envelope back there in the kitchen and folks are very receptive to it. They’re loving it.”
Wanna go? Bia’s Gourmet Hardware is located at 103 Worth Street in Asheboro. It is open Monday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Friday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Saturday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.