Since Bella Pizza first opened its doors in 1992, shortcuts haven't been a part of the chefs' repertoire. Instead, they personally hand-make each disc of pizza dough from scratch, and begin every morning by simmering sauces out of fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, and spices. From that quality start, the pizza experts can create one of their specialty artisan pizzas?sized to feed two people or one black hole?or customize thin-crust pies to guests' specifications. And the toppings are just as fresh as the dough they adorn, ranging from bacon and grilled chicken to sausage and black olives. The menu of Italian-American favorites also features hot sub sandwiches, pasta dishes, and wings served with one of five house-made sauces.
The warm, homespun vibe of the cuisine is echoed in the pizza parlor's decor. Reclaimed barn wood adorns a portion of the cozy space's walls, alongside framed photographs and accent mirrors. A handful of small tables invites pairs or groups to gather and share a slice, along with some lively conversation.
When talking about his commitment to his store, Andrew Maggitti recalls the only day he didn’t open his shop himself¬—the day his son was born. But the new dad was back at it that very evening, overseeing the shop's daily bread kneading and sauce bottling to keep the goods flowing for his loyal customers. An award-winning executive chef and caterer, Andrew has cooked in restaurants across the country, but he seized the opportunity to showcase his passion for Old-World Italian cuisine when an old farmhouse in the area went up for sale.
Inspired by his Italian grandmother’s recipes, Andrew now rolls out meatballs and simmers from-scratch tomato sauce, helping the kitchens of locals to look and smell just like the ones he grew up in. Like the iconic delis of Baltimore’s Little Italy, he wraps capocollo subs in thick butcher’s paper and offers a small dining nook where customers can share his hot deli fare and whisper nutrition facts to one another. But it is the human bonds that come with being a part of his customer's lives, Andrew says, that ultimately connect his deli to its Old-World traditions. “Whether it’s me or my wife,” Andrew says, “you’ll always see a recognizable, smiling face when you walk in.”
My Three Sons sprang into existence because one Harford County mother wanted to share the simple Mediterranean meals she made for her three sons with the public. Today, her simple counter-service restaurant has expanded from its original Churchville location, adding branches in Edgewood and Jarrettsville. The Jarrettsville site features low lighting, upscale entrees, and local wines from Fiore Winery. The dishes at all three locations highlight fresh, local ingredients from Harford County businesses, such as Level Farm beef and Broom's Bloom Dairy cheese. The hot, molten core of the menu is built on more than a dozen pita sandwiches, stuffed with fillings such as gyro meat, pesto chicken, and grilled eggplant or zucchini. Other items range from New York?style pizzas to platters of beer-battered fish or marinated meat.
Venetian Palace serves up Italian cuisine and American classics in an atmosphere that the Baltimore Sun called "bright and cheerful, just like the very efficient waitstaff." Chefs charbroil tender steaks and center-cut pork chops, knead fresh pizza dough, and sauté chicken breasts in marsala wine sauce. Platters of broiled seafood hint at the restaurant's close proximity to the water, and a full bar stocked with international wines suggests the secret vineyard in the basement.
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).
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."