A flame erupts, nearly as tall as the chef standing just inches away. In just a moment, however, the blaze retreats, vanishing as suddenly as the splash of wine that conjured it. Such a sight is commonplace in the kitchen of Vittorio Scotto and Diego Colamonaco, who grew up steeped in the passion for food and healthy living that characterizes their homeland, Italy. After moving to the United States, the duo opened Scotto's Caf? to celebrate the flavors of their upbringing and give diners a more personable alternative to chain restaurants. Each day, rich aromas float from the kitchen into the dining space, tantalizing diners as the chefs finish dishes with drizzles of freshly prepared sauces. The culinary team also portions meals in bulk to cater events ranging from birthday parties to millinery-school graduations.
After emigrating to Baltimore from Palermo, Italy, Gioacchino Vaccaro wanted to share the pastries of his homeland with his new neighbors. In 1956, he founded his eponymous pastry shop, an establishment that has since expanded to include four locations. The culinary team dishes out cannoli that ensconce homemade ricotta filling, three-tiered rum cake, and crunchy biscotti cookies.
Beyond pastries, the eateries toast paninis and stuff classic mufalato sandwiches with Italian pepper ham, mortadella, and salami. To complement their meals, visitors can sip hand-crafted espresso drinks, such as cappuccinos in traditional “Italiano” style and house style, served with a dollop of whipped cream. For more adult pours, patrons can opt for assorted martinis, beers, and dessert wines.
At You Say When Yogurt, the customer is in control. They first choose their 16- or 12-oz. cup and fill it with any combination of 12 yogurt flavors, which are often inspired by fruits and desserts. The flavor lineup regularly changes, and may include such varieties as New York cheesecake, cotton candy, and no-sugar added coffee, along with seasonal favorites such as pumpkin, a required sacrifice to the Great Pumpkin. Then customers scatter toppings into their cups, choosing from more than 72 candies, fruits, and nuts. The colorful dessert creations are matched by the vibrant shop's bright aqua walls and lime green and orange accents.