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.”
There is more to chef Mohammad Rahman’s menu than the staples that diners have come to expect from an Indian restaurant, although crowd favorites do have reserved places. Rahman and his wife, Salma Khanam—who is the restaurant’s maitre d’—incorporate flavors from their homeland of Bangladesh, including fish fry combos and shak bhaji (made with custom-spiced spinach). Halal meats such as fish, lamb, goat, and chicken star in rich curry dishes, nicely accompanied by warm naan fresh from the tandoor oven. The eatery's lunch buffet pits stomachs against a bounty of dishes, piled high with delectables to reward diners who wore their nicest stilettos. Kitchen of India’s environment is warm and romantic, with white tablecloths serving as elegant yet neutral complements to colorful paintings and carved sculptures.
The Mediterranean region is home to a range of cultures and culinary traditions. Kiriakos Nikoletos and Tony Marianos decided to combine two of these traditions when they founded Bellagio Pizzeria and filled the menu with classic Italian and Greek dishes. Befitting the eatery's name, pizza is prominently featured on the menu's pages. Diners have the option to choose one of the specialty pies or build their own using any of the 25 traditional and gourmet toppings, including everything from imported ham and onions to shrimp and bacon. Other Italian classics?such as chicken parmigiana and baked manicotti?help round out the menu along with the distinctively Greek assortment of gyro platters, spinach pie, and julienned pages from Plato's Symposium. At the same time, Kiriakos and Tony honor their restaurant's Mid-Atlantic roots by adding crab cakes, crab soup, and other regional staples to the increasingly eclectic menu of homespun comfort foods.
Within a 272-year-old fieldstone building, the aroma of pan-seared seafood and glazed meat drifts through dining rooms as patrons clink together glasses of fine wines. The location didn't always have such a refined air; throughout its history it served as a rest area for travelers and a prestigious school for boys. It wasn't until 1947, when Ivan Drechsler purchased the location, that it was restored and established as a country inn.
Today, executive chef and owner Brian Boston, who was recently named 2011 Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland, crafts upscale American dishes in the Inn's bustling kitchen. Plates of artisan cheeses and steaming bowls of fresh Maryland crab soup travel to the dining room, warming up stomachs for later courses more efficiently than a series of lunges beside one's table. Entrees such as the 12-ounce grilled rib-eye steak and wild-mushroom-stuffed phyllo star in the inventive, upscale menu next to sides of grilled summer vegetables.
Nearly 200 handpicked red and white wines age gracefully in an underground wine cellar, which rests beneath colonial-style dining rooms illumined by tabletop candles and crackling flames from a rustic stone fireplace. The Milton Inn Restaurant requests that male guests don jackets, a prerequisite that arose after the short-lived “shirtless cummerbund” fad of the late 1980s. Diners that commute via four-wheeled steed can deposit their vehicles in the eatery's free parking lot.
Three menus, one location. That might be a lot for some restaurants to handle, but not for Alonso's and Loco Hombre. Both welcome guests during lunch and dinner with their own menus?with some overlap?and a third that takes care of hungry dwellers in the bar area. With all those options, It can be hard to make just one dining choice here. Alonso's dinner menu is home to American classics and Tex-Mex flair, with an emphasis on the kitchen's famous burgers and pasta dishes. Then there's Loco Hombre, whose menu adds on a section for anything served in or on a tortilla. The jewels here include a broiled salmon burrito and tacos available with one of eight fillings. But the real action happens at the bar, where drinks are shaken, poured, or blended, be they margaritas or domestic craft beers served in fancy glasses.
The Velleggia family first laid their roots in Little Italy in 1970, establishing a specialty grocery store where they began to sell a combination of imported and housemade Italian foods. Relying on time-tested traditions and natural ingredients, they continue their culinary venture in much the same manner today. The highlight at Casa di Pasta is the store's homemade and hand-cut pastas, from gnocchi and tortellini to 26 kinds of ravioli stuffed with the likes of butternut squash, lobster, or smoked mozzarella and mushroom. Premade pans of lasagna and frozen italian sausages round out the selection of homemade goods that customers can pick up for nightly dinners or to feed groups at parties. Coolers and shelves also brim with olive oils, vinegars, breads, sweets, and cheeses imported directly from the Old World.