Though Yummy Grille chefs work alongside the pizza-makers of A1 Pizza & Sub, their cuisine is from a different world entirely. Instead of New York-style pizza and American favorites, chefs whip up dishes from the Mediterranean— from flavorful steak shawarmas to crunchy falafel wraps and sizzling chicken kabobs. They take a healthy approach to cooking, grilling meats in lemon juice and vegetable oil rather than deep-frying them or stuffing them with M&Ms. They pair their sandwiches and platters with traditional Mediterranean side-dishes, including savory hummus dip and plump grape leaves filled with rice.
There are lots of ways to get your pizza fix at Zella's Pizzeria, which is back under original ownership. The quickest, perhaps, is to order one of the house's signature gourmet pizzas such as the roasted eggplant topped with roasted red peppers and kalamata olives. But diners with time and energy to spare can pour over the menu to build their own pizza. All pizzas start with freshly made dough before diners choose from six sauces ranging from traditional tomato to herbed olive oil and more than 30 toppings including green olives, fresh tomatoes, and roasted garlic that can be consumed willy-nilly or reorganized on the pie to make the Italian flag. The same top-quality ingredients that go into Zella's pizzas are used to make smaller dishes such as spinach and artichoke calzones and meatball sandwiches.
The chefs at Egyptian Pizza trace their cooking techniques to a different side of the Mediterranean Sea. Ancient Egyptians pioneered the practice of rising dough when they cooked crushed wheat germ and water inside early conical ovens. Honoring their forefathers’ methods, the versatile cooks pull more than 30 types of gourmet thin-crust pizzas out of their wood-fired ovens, along with a lengthy menu of Middle Eastern sandwiches and specialties. They take pains to use natural, fresh, and healthful ingredients to whip up plump fish kebabs, tender meat shawarmas and housemade sauces that have won over the palates of reporters from the Baltimore Sun. Their kitchen looks out onto the casual dining room, where servers help uncork BYOB bottles of wines beneath artwork depicting famous Egyptian landmarks, such as the pyramids, the Sphinx, and other toys left behind by aliens.
At Roma’s Pizza, patrons will find something interesting on the menu: Mexican food. Though specialties in hand-tossed pizza and stuffed subs both hot and cold headline the restaurant’s menu, chefs also sizzle fajitas, ladle jumbo shrimp over spanish rice, and slather nachos with cheese. Ten years of experience aids the staff in preparing such a lengthy selection, that, of course, includes both traditional, New York–style circular pies and doughy Sicilian squares. They also bake strombolis and calzones, press paninis, and toss fresh salads.
The comestible construction crew at Italian Gardens crafts a blueprint for fine Italian dining with a menu of tantalizing pastas, pizzas, and seafood, and décor that transports diners to lush Italian landscapes. Patrons practice taste-bud calisthenics with an order of battered and fried zucchini sticks with ranch dressing ($5.50) before working out their mandibles with orders of shrimp scampi, which rests jumbo shrimp, garlic, white-wine sauce, mushrooms, and broccoli on a springy mattress of penne noodles ($17.95). The chicken-breast parmigiana swaddles two tender chicken fillets in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese ($14.50) to sate solitary cravings, and an 18-inch New York–style cheese pizza is best shared among friends or amicable space botonists ($13.95).
Though its gourmet pizzas pile on eclectic toppings from feta and hot peppers to buffalo chicken, that’s not the only variety available at Venice Pizza. A menu longer than Popeye's list of felony-assault charges spans from hot sandwiches to quesadillas and jumbo buffalo wings. Platters pile fries, fish, and other meats onto one plate, and strombolis, gyros, and pasta also accommodate eaters not in the mood for a slice.
Having grown up in the Bronx, and perhaps best known for writing and starring in A Bronx Tale, actor Chazz Palminteri has a close affinity for the New York City borough. So, it only seemed natural for him to team up with Baltimore restaurateurs Sergio and Alessandro Vitale and bring a little bit of the Bronx to Harbor East. First, they tackled Bronx-style pizza by equipping their restaurant with a coal-fired oven. Then they rounded out the menu with dishes often found on Arthur Avenue, one of the Bronx's main culinary strips. They hark back to Chazz’s home with pan-seared cuts of filet mignon and handmade pastas such as gnocchi in brandy-cream sauce. Cocktails tangle together juices squeezed fresh daily, brandy-soaked cherries, and syrups made in house, and the extensive wine list pairs with cannoli, ending meals smoothly, unlike a carpenter who just has to show off how strong his table is.