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.
Brothers Jimmy, Tony, and Nick Miller pioneered Buddy Maratta’s Cafe and Deli, christening it after their father’s childhood nickname, with the vision of enlightening palates to traditional Baltimore cuisine. Drawing on his degree from the Baltimore Culinary Institute and on years of fine-dining experience, Chef Nick whips up a menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads and calls upon the Miller mother and aunts to bake homemade desserts and cakes. Platters of specialty crab fries, braised-short-rib cheesesteaks, and a variety of gourmet salads emerge from the kitchen into a casual-dining area where rows of tabletops bask beneath hanging lights and framed artwork, among the free WiFi waves. In addition to dining in, patrons can request catering services for special events, meetings, and jury-duty reunions.
The chefs at Bread and Circuses Bistro—formerly called The French Press Cafe—serve up colorful American cuisine with a contemporary edge in a vintage-café-inspired dining room. The bistro's menu, like a yellow-marker-wielding culinary student, highlights an eclectic array of paninis, such as the grilled vegetable, a sumptuous repository of root vegetables and roasted red pepper garbed in bruschetta and balsamic vinaigrette ($8), or the new york strip steak and cheese ($10). Chew into the crusty exteriors of nonpressed sandwiches, including the baltimore club, a double-stacked crab-cake BLT (market price). Explore entrees such as the shrimp-and-scallop risotto ($17) or the salmon, pampered with a molasses kneading, rainforest-fruit-salsa dressing, and a French manicure before nestling against roasted red potatoes and grilled vegetables ($15).
Whether seated on a patio overlooking stretches of grass or within a cozy dining room aglow with hanging lights, guests at Donna’s are treated to an array of tasty, upscale American dishes. The menu boasts a selection that changes weekly and may include quinoa and homemade falafel, five-spice ribs, salmon on cold noodles, or homemade tacos. From the expansive wine lists, guests select a glass of dry sparkling prosecco to pair with pizza or calamari or sip a seasonal cocktail such as the pineapple caipirinha. In addition to crafting delicious meals, the team at Donna’s offers cooking classes, during which they bake rustic breads, make pastas by hand, and quiet the melodramatic death throes of Italian vegetables.
Classic Mediterranean food abounds at Desert Cafe, from gardens of crunchy salads to shish kebabs of skewered meat, onions, and peppers. City Paper's review made note of the colorful fabric that decorates the ceiling, forming a vivid canopy above plates of flaky spanakopita or mango curry chicken salad studded with golden raisins. Warm flatbread wraps around gyros made from chicken, beef, or lamb and served with tzatziki sauce. Diners can also enjoy fresh air with their food on a colorful covered patio, sipping drinks amid strings of party lights and wood painted crimson. The caf? is also home to owner Blake Wollman's lauded Wild Pea hummus, which was voted best hummus of 2012 by Baltimore Magazine.
Herb & Soul chefs B. Taylor and David Thomas operate under a simple mantra with several implications. When they say their mission is to "feed the soul," they mean that their fried chicken, short ribs, and Georgia bread pudding are more than just items on the menu?they?re nourishing reminders of the home-cooked meals of childhood.
They also mean that they do their best to foster long-standing relationships with local farmers and stock their small, down-home establishment with organic produce, grass-fed meats, and sustainably sourced fish. Herb & Soul's support of sustainable agriculture benefits the environment as well, since the restaurant converts its waste into compost and recycles its oil on the kitchen?s slip 'n' slide.