Conjuring authentic Italian cuisine, the chefs at Lupo di Mare cook a variety of upscale pastas, entrees, and dishes. A true team player in Mediterranean cooking, olives—marinated and served with sun-dried tomatoes and herbs ($4)—start the meal by proving their tasty batting average, and the lobster bruschetta pitches a perfect culinary game on crostini with lobster, rosemary-lemon cream, white beans, and chili oil ($11). Tiny balls of gnocchi kindle a loving bond with herb-whipped ricotta while wading through a red sea of tomato sauce ($16). With roasted mushrooms and fragile baby green beans, tender veal cutlets covered in a rich marsala demi-glace never find themselves dining alone ($22). The pan-seared sea bass—caught off the coast of the famous, sun-baked Italian city of Pan—cloaks itself in sweet corn, pancetta risotto, spinach, and white balsamic butter ($26). Because consuming Italian food without wine is practically a crime, Lupo di Mare supplies a long and varied list of whites, reds, and dessert wines to complement any dish.
The Gallery Espresso embraces café goers with a spacious, well lit dining area populated by breakfast and lunch fare, including breakfast burritos, gourmet pizzas, and grilled paninis. The diverse menu, rife with homemade goods, features enticing sweets such as banana caramel crêpes ($7.95) and buttermilk pancakes ($7.95) served by the stack or industrial vat. Munchers seeking midday boosts can wrap paws around a variety of cold sandwiches ($7.95–$9.95) and grilled paninis ($8.95–$9.95). The Gallery Espresso's dough designers roll, knead, and season freshly prepped Sicilian crusts for each gourmet pizza, topping floured canvases with grilled veggies ($8.95) or eggplant feta ($8.95). Peruse the drinks menu and treat pipes to an americano ($2.55), which employs two shots of espresso and several motivational speeches to energize bodies. Although not included with today's Groupon, guests are free to pore over and purchase jewelry and paintings from local artists and enjoy outings alongside pets on the outdoor patio.
The allure of Bill Bateman's Bistro increases exponentially with a glance at the wide-ranging menu. Locally lauded for its superlative wings, Bill Bateman's Bistro's offers glazed poultry in a variety of sizes and sauces. Combine cuisines with 10 ($8.49) of the Sweet Thai Chili Wings, or firmly uphold winged tradition with 30 original buffalo wings ($22.99). Fifty Wings from Hell ($36.99) will sate the fire-deprived tongues of fearless wing devourers and can be ordered via a Ouija board that until recently was just a game. The shrimp-melt wrap ($10.99), jalapeñoed Heat Wave Burger ($8.99), and grilled-chicken-topped California Salad ($10.99) are but a few of the numerous bites capable of complementing the various cold draft beers. For the full rundown of possible palate pleasers, see the complete menu for each participating location: Parkville, Severna Park, Glen Burnie, and Reisterstown.
At the Anne Arundel County fairgrounds, competing teams of pit masters keep their grills fueled through the night, tingeing the cool air with the smoky, sweet aroma of slow-cooked beef. The marathon cooking session is all for the sake of the Kansas City Barbeque Society judges, whose favor each chef will curry come lunchtime. The annual barbequing competition is just one facet of the festival’s mission to showcase the best barbecue chefs in the region. In addition to the competition, local food vendors sate visitors with hot ribs and empower budding chefs with gourmet sauces and cookware. All the while, 25 live bands keep heads bobbing while reminding diners to chew 30 times before swallowing.
The chefs at Garry's Grill use house-made breads and seasonal ingredients to create hearty American meals with international touches. At breakfast time, that translates to creamed chipped beef over buttermilk biscuits and, at lunch, seared tuna wraps, which are rubbed with Thai spices and supplemented with cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and wasabi cream sauce. Feel free to add a side of crab cakes to any dinner entrée, such as the penne with roasted red peppers and portabellos, or the Man Burger, which is topped with gorgonzola, onions, mushrooms, bacon, and jalapeños and wrapped in an 8x10 photo of Gregory Peck. Also on the menu: Red and white wines from California, Washington, and Italy.