Whining & Dining

Randi Rom

I had the pleasure of dining at Taste Mediterranean Grille- a new restaurant located at 28 Allegheny Avenue in the heart of Towson. Chef Luigi (Gigi) Palumbo recently moved to Baltimore from his native Italy to expand his business - - his restaurant in Italy (run by his wife and sons) is recognized in the Michelin guide – a prestigious and well-respected guide to exceptional restaurants. Chef Palumbo is also a certified sommelier and a member of the Italian Sommelier Association. Did I mention that he’s cooked for the Pope? The restaurant has seating for 100 with 30 outdoor seats (weather permitting) and a beautiful wine room that seats 20-perfect for private get togethers. And--Gigi and his staff were gracious and welcoming which, of course, adds to the whole dining experience. Now-for the info you really want—the food! In addition to a well-rounded wine list, Taste offers a nice selection of their Southern Italian specialties (no butter is used-only olive oil) on their tasting menu. The mozzarella topped with marinated crabmeat was –well—tasty. BUT—they have a fish soufflé that blew me out of the water! Now---when I saw it on the menu I thought-yuck-fish soufflé-that doesn’t sound good. I WAS WRONG! This dish was light, fluffy and had a very clean taste-not too fishy-just right. Love, love, loved it. Appetizers include octopus salad, tartare of the day and carpaccio—and--one of the most unique offerings is the chickpea velvet soup with shrimp. I enjoyed the risotto, asparagus and shrimp with olive oil, onions and vegetable bouillon. There are a number of seafood dishes-sea bass, rockfish, wild salmon and swordfish-to name a few as well as grilled chicken steak and lamb. The desserts are homemade-try the chocolate mousse--and-FYI-they have a kid’s menu. Anna DiPierno at Il Basilico in Lutherville referred me to Taste – she and Gigi are from the same, small town in Italy. Thanks for the intro Anna. TasteMediterraneanGrille.com.

Looking for a great sports bar to watch your fave team? Check out No Idea Tavern in Federal Hill. Enjoy an extensive beer and wine selection and a menu that includes build-your-own quesadillas, chicken teriyaki dumplings and O.C. fries. Mondays are “all you can drink” wine night for ladies Tuesdays are trivia night with $5 cheese steak sandwiches, Wednesdays are burger nights, etc., etc. And people-they’re dog friendly! That alone puts them at the top of my list! For more info, go to NoIdeaTavern.com.

Coming soon. Keep an eye out for B-towns newest mobile food truck-The Gypsy Queen. At the helm are Tom Looney and Annemarie Langton from Helen’s Garden. Their motto? “Eat your meat – in the street.” I did NOT make that up. For updates on locations, friend ‘em on Facebook.

Major congrats to Moveable Feast’s executive director, Thomas Bonderenko, received the Excellence in Executive Leadership Award presented by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Of special mention was Tom’s role in developing the highly successful Partnership for Life with Chase Brexton Health Services and AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS). The Partnership’s signature effort was the B’more Aware of HIV campaign. About receiving the award, Tom wrote, “This award goes to everyone at Moveable Feast who work together each day to sustain and foster our mission, to those who care deeply about feeding the body and nurturing the human spirit, and who refuse to tolerate the ignorance of fear and discrimination which still forces those who live with HIV and other life-threatening conditions to live in the shadow of our community.”  For more info on Moveable Feast, Dining Out for Life or to make a donation, go to MFeast.org.

Alchemy, a modern American eatery opened in Hampden on the same block as one of my all time faves-Little Grano. (Amazing Bolognese.) The owners are Debi Bell-Matassa and Michael Matassa, who previously owned Fusion Grille in Fallston. No web site yet but you can find them on Facebook—Alchemy on 36th.

Speaking of Hampden-the Roland Park Bakery and Deli is moving from the Roland Park Shopping Center to Chestnut Avenue. Nice for Hampden since New Systems Bakery went buh bye.


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