Friday Five (best spots for Italian food in Baltimore)

pasta

Italian food is my absolute favorite. Is there anything more comforting and delicious than a bowl of fettuccine? Or arancini stuffed with gooey mozzarella and dipped in marinara? Or lasagna with a creamy béchamel? I think I am literally drooling right now just typing this. Luckily, Baltimore has a myriad of Italian restaurants (not just in Little Italy!) at varying levels of authenticity and price point. Today I’m going to share my five favorites:

1. Sotto Sopra 

Adam and I first went to Sotto Sopra during restaurant week where we each enjoyed three delectable courses. The grilled octopus salad and squid ink pasta were out of this world and on subsequent visits we confirmed that the duck and fish dishes are equally good. The crowd is a bit older, but the food is just so good and the service is formal without being stuffy. They also have opera night once a month with live performances in the restaurant!

Neighborhood: Mt. Vernon      Price: Entrees $25-$35

2. Birroteca 

A little bit off the beaten path in Hampden with it’s own parking lot (jackpot!), Birroteca is a fairly large, friendly restaurant with an appealing menu. I had the most fun sitting at the bar and ordering a few different appetizers/small plates before splitting a pizza, but they also have plenty of tables for larger groups. Tables are covered in butcher paper and pencils are provided for guests do doodle while they wait for their food. Framed table drawings cover the walls. The food feels a little less authentic Italian (read: pastas with duck liver, wild boar and rabbit), but most everything we’ve tried has been delicious. My faves are the Brussel sprouts, meatballs and the Duck Duck Goose pizza. They also have a decent variety of beers on tap.

Neighborhood: Hampden      Price: Entrees less than $20

3. Trinacria 

I have only been to the original market/deli, not the cafe that recently opened, but I’m hoping to check that out soon! Trinacria is THE place you want to hit up if you’re looking for cheap wine, huge/delicious/inexpensive sandwiches and olive oil, sauce, pasta and all of the makings for a homemade Italian feast. Adam first discovered this place when he was in law school and often walked over for one of their delicious sandwiches (my fave is the chicken parm, but they are quite literally all good – except be warned the tuna salad has olives) and now he frequently stops in to stock up on wine (think bottles for $5-7) and their frozen meals (thaw and pop in the oven for an easy week night dinner).

Neighborhood: Seton Hill       Price: $6 sandwiches!

4. Bottega 

botega

Bottega is a tiny little BYOB gem tucked into a fairly empty block near the Charles Theater. Reservations are required and hard to come by on the weekend so I suggest you make yours NOW. Their menu is frequently changing based on season and availability of fresh ingredients. If it’s available, definitely get the malfatti, spinach ricotta dumpling balls in sage butter sauce. Very rich and so good! It’s cozy and romantic and makes a great date night spot.

Neighborhood: Station North     Price: Entrees $25-30

5. Aldo’s

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a restaurant in Baltimore’s lively Little Italy neighborhood. To me, Aldo’s is the cream of the crop and a great place to go when your parents are footing the bill. I’m all about the pasta and they have a fantastic bolognese and a fettuccine with tomato cream sauce and lobster tail – delizioso! And do yourself a favor, start with the shrimp bisque.

Neighborhood: Little Italy      Price:  Entrees $30-40

Hooking up with Heather for Friday Favorites! 

What’s your favorite spot for Italian food in Baltimore or where you live? What’s your favorite Italian dish?


		
Advertisements

Baltimore Sun’s Foodie List!

The Baltimore Sun recently published a list of 50 Things Every Foodie Should Do in Baltimore and former Sun food writer Elizabeth Large did a great job compiling an eclectic list of reader submissions. Jeanette and I love to eat and thought we would add our commentary!

1. Jumbo lump crab cake from Faidley’s.

A – Yessss! This is a MUST. Adam introduced me to these delicious crab cakes in Lexington Market and we stopped in for lunch on an epic Baltimore day with out of town guests last summer. 

2. Pick steamed hard shells at Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn in Essex.

A – Never been to Mr. Bill’s, but steamed crabs are a summer staple. I’ve also heard good thing about Nick’s Fish House which is recently under new management including Kevin Plank.

3. Drink a Natty Boh.

4. Snack on a Berger cookie.

J – Take it a step further and make a Berger Cookie Pie, inspired by Dangerously Delicious‘ Baltimore Bomb Pie. It is seriously the bomb (ha!) dot com. Super easy to make and great for parties.

5. Put marshmallow on your snowball.

A – Before moving to Baltimore I had no idea what a snowball was and assumed it was just like a snow cone. Was I ever wrong! The shaved ice in a snowball is delightfully light and the flavors they have – from egg custard to cinnamon to dragonberry – are amazing can be tasted in every last bite. And yes, marshmallow is a must. 

6. Lake trout. And for those of us who watched “The Wire,” have a grape soda with it.

A – I’m just now watching the Wire and I’m only on season 2. Maybe after I get to this scene, I’ll have to try some lake trout!

7. Breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe down in Fells Point.

J – I would LOVE to try this place out, but I am just NOT a morning person. I will say, I have told my boyfriend, K, that the only acceptable reason to wake me early on a Saturday is for a trip to Blue Moon. Excited for their Federal Hill location to open!

A – They don’t take reservations on can have a 2 hour plus wait on the weekends, so if you ARE a morning person I definitely suggest going early.

8. Corned beef on rye at Attman’s.

A – I may be the only Jew that doesn’t like rye bread, but I did go to Attman’s for a meeting of the Jewish MBA Association so that gets me some points, right? So. Good. Best deli in Baltimore. 

9. Have a Resurrection Ale at Brewer’s Art

A – Or a Beazly! And definitely get the rosemary garlic fries.

10. Take a Sunday morning stroll through the JFX Farmer’s Market.

A – Another summer favorite!

J- Make sure you stop at Blacksauce Kitchen‘s stand for a breakfast biscuit. YUM. They sell out, so make it your first stop, then hit up Zeke’s for an iced coffee. I promise, the coffee line moves faster than it looks.

11. Have a Black Eyed Susan at the Preakness.

A – I’ve done Preakness infield, but never classed it up with a Black Eyed Susan. It’s on my Baltimore bucket list! 

12. Shop for shoes and chocolate at Ma Petit Shoe in Hampden.

J – Shoes and chocolate. ‘Nuff said.

13. Eat a box of Rheb’s buttercreams.

Sangria and Paella at Tio's

Sangria and Paella at Tio’s

14. Order a Tio Pepe sangria (red).

A – Ohhh yes this is a favorite. I have had many memorable evenings at Tio Pepe with their red sangria. It’s where I found out Whitney Houston had died and where we celebrated my father-in-law’s 60th birthday! 

15. Polish sausage from Ostrowski’s

16. Fisher’s popcorn downy ocean, hon!

J – Fisher’s popcorn is my pringles. I. can’t. stop.

17. Sunday brunch on the terrace at Ambassador Dining Room

18. Eat the pumpkin appetizer at the Helmand.

19. Thin crust pizza at Joe Squared.

J – Meh. I was raised in Jersey. Joe Squared is good and all, but nothing can compare to the real deal.

A – But the risotto! The risotto is really good! 

20. Try some of the special flavors from Taharka Bros. (formerly Sylvan Beach) ice cream and Pitango Gelato.

21. Make fun of the hipsters at Golden West and Rocket to Venus in Hampden.

J – Some of us like our beer samplers and half-priced burgers, thank you very much.

22. Change your mind about vegan/vegetarian food at Liquid Earth.

23. Try the charcuterie at Clementine.

A – It’s been on my list sense Guy stopped in on a Baltimore episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!

24. Macaroni and cheese with bittersweet chocolate from Jack’s Bistro.

A – Tried this at Jack’s during restaurant week and it was incredible. It doesn’t beat the baked mac and cheese at Mama’s on the Half Shell though. 

J – Or ANYTHING from Jack’s Bistro. Love that the menu is inspired by places the chef recently traveled.

25. Throw in a shrimp salad from Kibby’s and/or Mary Mervis.

A – Adam attests to the deliciousness of shrimp salad from Mary Mervis found at Lexington Market. 

26. Smith Island Cake, but only from Sugarbakers.

A – My old boss used to get one every Christmas and it was always incredible. The PERFECT cake to icing ratio. 

vaccaros

27. Gorge yourself at Vaccaro’s.

A – Got the most delicious, authentic cannoli from Vaccaro’s for Christmas Eve one year. They broke the bank but man were they good. 

J – Is this a thing?! K & I bring them home for my family every Christmas…

28. Bookmaker salad at Sabatino’s.

29. Order any sandwich at Trinacria

A – Adam loooves this Italian shop/deli and has definitely gotten me hooked! I’d amend to *almost* any sandwich – I avoid the tuna as it’s made with olives! 

30. Order the popcorn and deviled eggs at Woodberry Kitchen.

31. Bagel with lox and cream cheese or apricot spread from Greg’s.

32. Coddies on a cracker from a rowhouse bar.

A – Never tried it but this just sounds SO Baltimore

33. Prime rib at the Prime Rib.

A – Yes, yes, yes. And start with potato skins. 

34. Mozzarella Pie from Matthew’s Pizza.

A – Adam’s cousins introduced us to Matthew’s where we got drunk in their basement bar and enjoyed the most delicious deep dish pizza!

35. Late night dinner at the Bel-Loc Diner.

36. Order the Krispy Cream Bread Pudding at Ale Mary’s.

37. Buy a crepe at Sofi’s and enjoy it while watching a movie at the Charles.

38. Naron candy.

39. Wockenfuss Candies

40. Have a picnic at Fort McHenry.

A – I have still never been to Fort McHenry! I am adding this picnic idea to my summer funtivity list.

J to A – Is this one of those romantic date things, or could it be a bestie co-blogger activity…?

41. Oysters and beer at Cross Street Market!

J – YES. And it doesn’t count if you’re not drinking your beer out of a giant Chinese food takeout tub.

42. Coffee from Zeke’s.

J – I’m drinking some right now…

43. Smoked platter from Neopol at Belvedere.

44. Go to the Wine Market on a Monday night and enjoy a neighborhood discount

J – Love this place… great date spot!

45. Have Old Bay on things other than seafood.

A – Mmm Old Bay wings…

46. Take the Clipper City brewery tour.

A – I have hit most of the other brewery’s in the area (Heavy Seas, Flying Dog and Union Craft) so I definitely need to visit Clipper City! 

47. Get fruit and veggies from an arabber.

48. Sip a Bloody Mary with an Old Bay rimmer.

49. Enjoy a meal at Salt.

J – HINT, HINT.

50. Eat the Berger cookie pie at Dangerously Delicious Pies.

A – Adam and I had this on one of our first dates! It’s just as delicious as they say, especially when washed down with a cold glass of milk. 

51. Mary Sue Easter Eggs.

Which of these is your favorite? Is there anything missing that you would add?

A – I think pit beef from Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards should be on the list and a hubcap marg/quesadilla at Nacho Mama’s!