Pizzazz Tuscan Grille

by Randi Rom

Pietro Priola, executive chef and his partner Deanna Cook recently opened the new Pizzazz Tuscan Grille at Pier Five Hotel in the Inner Harbor. Pizzazz is a health conscious restaurant that offers gluten free foods and desserts, organic, vegetarian and vegan dishes. “This is revolutionary for an Italian restaurant. It’s exciting,” offered Priola. Deanna has been studying holistic nutrition for over twenty years and extols the virtues of nutrient dense food.

The restaurant does not use any sugar or white salt-only agaves to sweeten and Himalayan sea salts to flavor. Ninety percent of the food at Pizzazz is organic and only first press olive oil is used in cooking. “Over the years, Italian cuisine has been Americanized and we wanted to provide a new way to do Italian,” explained Chef Priola.

Born in Sicily, Chef Priola’s family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York and when his father was unable to get a job in his field as a mechanic, he found work in a pizza shop. Pietro helped his father after school and on weekends; he made his first pizza at the age of ten, standing on a milk crate in order to reach the counter. By the time he was seventeen, Chef Priola knew he wanted to work in the restaurant industry and explore his love for the art of cooking. What he enjoys most is the creativity involved in producing imaginative meals, though his personal favorite dish is still pizza. Pietro honed his skills at various restaurants and in the mid seventies he opened Villa Romano, a traditional Sicilian restaurant and café in the Gold Coast Mall in Ocean City, Maryland.

Deanna and Pietro live in downtown Baltimore, in the Canton neighborhood. On a walk one Sunday, they passed Pier Five Hotel and noticed that 'My Panini' was closed. They contacted the property owner and two weeks later they closed the deal and opened Pizzazz two months later.

Chef Priola wanted to create a place where people could feel at home and enjoy quality, healthy Italian cuisine. When creating the menu for Pizzazz, he knew he wanted it to be different and his “new way to do Italian” restaurant has garnered rave reviews since its opening in June.

The restaurant is warm and beautifully decorated on the inside and has a beautiful deck where customers can enjoy dining waterside across the pier from the National Aquarium. Boaters can dock right at the restaurant and enjoy a glass of organic and biodynamic wine.

On the first Tuesday of each month, Pizzazz offers “smoothie classes” where guests can learn how to make their very popular and very tasty superfood smoothies such as the berry mango-a blend of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana and mango juice. The teacher, Kendall Reichart is a holistic health counselor whose focus is on whole food and living food nutrition. The principle is that when the body is properly nourished, it can perform at optimum levels. Once a week there are classes in raw food preparation.

The theme of Pizzazz supports Chef Priola’s credo—“good food is good medicine.”  |  410.528.7772
711 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD

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