I'm going to be setting up a fairly important (for personal reasons) dinner this weekend and the request is for Italian. Has anyone been to Pazza Luna recently? What's the good word? What about Vespa? I'm a big fan of La Tavola but am trying to avoid that whole weekend Little Italy parking nightmare -- even though we'll probably end up there anyway!
I'm a big fan of Vespa, as are other Baltimore chowhounds. I think for the money, the food quality and wine list are hard to beat.
But you didn't exactly define "important." So just in case that means you are looking for romantic and quiet, I'm not sure Vespa would my first choice, at least on the weekend. Although it never bothers me, I've eaten there with others who found it a little too loud and cramped. Of course, if that's not what you meant, it could work just fine.
I've never been to Pazza Luna, sorry.
I'm sure Lucien will surface with some good info. (Sotto Sopra perhaps?!?)
Welp, let's see.......
I like Vespa, I'll always have a soft spot for it- decent food, best Eye-talian wine list around and priced to sell, servers that makes patrons of both genders yearn for x-ray vision, and pretty easy on the wallet. But it is noisy on a weekend. If this is a personal affair, and with a name like Trixie Deluxe how can it not be, then you may be happier at a quieter venue.....
Pazza Luna is good food, and the ambience is decent too. Only wine list in town that goes out of its way to tell you why you should enjoy wine with food, then offers you 3 pages of wine mostly incompatable with Italian cuisine. Ah well. Still, the food is really very well done there, no complaints. Cozy too. As I recall there is a dolcetto on the list that was surprisingly decent. Or opt for the all-over-little-italy Ruffino chianti. I can also recommend the little french Pinot noir they have by the glass....oops, that's shameless self-promotion!! Sorry... :-))
Sotto Sopra is the euro-appointed northern Italian force de cuisine in town. Expect 1st rate food and good service, and the less you know about how the wine list is priced the better. A hip place that knows how to cook up a storm. Take your plastic if your companion has any sort of penchant for wine.
Anyone else? Honestly, I've been whipping up some mean bolognese here at the house and haven't bothered to go out to eat Italian since my foray to Pazza Luna 2 months ago.
Ok, I read the replies and I really can't comment since the only Italian places I've been to are Amici's and one other I can't remember. I instantly fell in love with Amici's so I never bothered to go anywhere else in my 3 years of living in B'more. So, those of you more experienced folks, do tell. Have you ever been there and how does it compare?
thanks for the recommendations, lucien and darin...although i don't go as often as i used to, i do enjoy sotto sopra very much. but your instincts in regard to me looking for someplace quiet were right on -- one reason i'm skipping sotto is because i almost always see people i know there (yes, i'm a Smalltimore native), and don't want to be distracted; otherwise it would be a good choice.
same with vespa -- plus the hyper-crowdedness on weekends, plus i'm hoping to linger over dinner and both the extremely firm chairs and banquettes there are difficult to occupy comfortably for more than 30 minutes.
so pazza luna it shall be (though i agree about the wine list -- thanks for the recommendations, lucien!). i hadn't been there in about 18 months and just wanted to affirm that it's still at least decent.
trixie deluxe (lady of mystery)
I haven't been to Pazza Luna in about a year, but I've heard from others that it is still quite good. Every meal that I've had there in the past was delicious. It seems like a great relaxed, intimate destination. If you go, let us know of your thoughts - maybe I'll return in the near future.