To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtle's philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
The esculent artisans at The Olive Tree serenade diners with an extensive menu celebrating seafood and cuisine inspired by regions all throughout Italy. Evening diners can entice taste buds with comestible selections from a far-reaching dinner menu. Rouse appetites with fresh sautéed mussels reclining in a bath of garlic wine sauce ($10.59) before chowing on ricotta-stuffed baked manicotti ($11.99). Exercise incisors on grilled pork chops Italiano, served with grilled veggies and a side ($14.99) or crash a shrimp scampi slumber party jumping on a bed of linguine ($18.99). All entrees are served with unlimited garden salad and enough breadsticks to construct an edible scale model of Michelangelo's David. The dinner menu is rounded out by a variety of homemade desserts, including homemade cannoli ($4.95) and tiramisu ($4.95).
From a kitchen inside the Clarion Hotel, executive chef Jeff Kirby concocts a diverse spread of southwestern-influenced dishes from sandwiches and Tex-Mex favorites to tender, perfectly cooked steaks. Kirby and company keep the Maryland crab soup and other crowd-pleasing dishes on the menu, but conceive new menu additions and daily specials to keep diners on their toes and to prevent cooking utensils from dulling due to complacency.
Wife-and-husband team Theresa and Deward Ray whip up fresh, inventive handheld daily cakes from scratch, and authentic, made-to-order savory crêpes. Cross cultural borders with the Caprese crêpe, or practice conversational French with the chicken cordon bleu, a broad plateau of chicken, ham, and swiss cheese topped with a mornay sauce and wrapped in a crêpe as tight as the bond between a rubber band and its ball. Sink sweet teeth into classic cupcake flavors like red velvet, salted caramel, vanilla, or chocolate, or test out daily rotating cupcake flavors such as white-chocolate almond cupcakes on Thursdays, Kahlua and crème cupcakes on Tuesdays, and maple bacon on Saturdays.
Home to a vast lineup of dairy-based frozen treats, Bruster's makes its ice creams, yogurts, and waffle cones fresh every day in-store. The menu boasts everything from a turtle sundae ($4.50) to a regular cone ($2.80+) or homemade waffle cone ($3.90) filled with one of the multitudinous ice-cream flavors, such as Monkey Madness––with banana ice cream, buckeyes, and marshmallows––or Chocolate Lover's Trash––chocolate ice cream filled with chocolate chunks, chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate butter toffee, chocolate krispies, and receipts from visits to the biannual cocoa consortium. Bruster's also offers no-sugar-added options and fat-free ice creams, as well as low-fat yogurts.
Chiapparelli's first opened its doors to Baltimore's Little Italy in 1942, regaling diners with a tradition-inspired approach to Old-World cuisine that the founding family's present generations continue to embrace. The chefs simmer pots of ripe tomatoes, onions, and herbs to craft marinara sauce and deftly form meatballs and ravioli by hand. By incorporating steamed clams, lump crabmeat, and fresh kraken, they allow the mid-Atlantic region's maritime ingredients to influence the menu's iconic, transatlantic flavors. In recognition of the family's commitment to hearty and nostalgic Italian cuisine, Zagat praised the menus of both the Little Italy and Havre de Grace locations, rating them each as "very good to excellent."