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Jun 12, 2006 12:41 PM

Pesce Grande annapolis

  • m

My wife and I are constantly lamenting the sad state of restaurants in Annapolis and I was surprised by the favorable reviews about this place on this board. Don't believe it. I should have known when I saw it was associated with Mangia Pizzeria in downtown Annapolis. The food at Pesce Grande, a new Italian place on West St. was mediocre at best. The Italian "tapas" idea is a welcome one but the food was just nothing special. The pizza in particular was awful. Service was fine and the space itself was very welcoming.The place was packed which just reaffirms my belief that a casual, not too expensive bistro type restaurant with inspired food would kill in Annapolis. Anyone else have any thoughts on the wasteland that is Annapolis dining?

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  1. I don't agree at all. Annapolis is hardly a wasteland. Start with Les Folies for wonderful brasserie fare, and very fresh fish and seafood. Or go a few blocks down to try the new Viet-Thai Paradise. Then there's Yellow Fin, Northwoods (yes, still good), or Regina's for a tasty breakfast or lunch in a neighborhood atmosphere. Or try the new Salvadorian/French place at the corner of Bestgate and Admiral Drive for the pupusas and a tart tatin. Head downtown to the patio at Ram's Head for pub grub, or Galway Bay for hearty Irish fare. Try the tea at Reynold's Tavern, get some sushi at Joss, try the rooftop at Metropolitan - wonderful wine by the glass program and very good food. Chick and Ruths can still crank out a mean NY-style deli sandwich, and ice cream sodas, and Potato Valley on State Circle has good stuffed potatoes. Crepes at Cafe Normandie still satisfy. Harry Browne's bananas foster still worth the trip.

    Into Eastport to Boatyard Grill, Lewnes's Steak House, Carroll's Creek, O'Learys, Davis Pub and Wild Orchid. All one-of-a-kind and local. Crack crabs at Mike's on the South River or Cantlers. And if you must "do" Ego Alley - get some fresh shucked oysters at McGarvey's Saloon and gelato at Aromi D'Italia and call it a night. One can eat very well in Annapolis.

    9 Replies
    1. re: sarah

      I agree with you Sarah. For it's size, Annapolis has lots of good choices. I'd add Lemongrass for tasty, affordable Thai; back patio of Sly Fox Pub for happy hour; 49 West for the flexibility of a decent entree or a casual sandwich; Tsunami is reliable; it's been a while, but I'd like to return to Aqua Terra. I would avoid most everything around the City Dock/Ego Alley or lower your expectations.

      1. re: mj

        I've not had a experience at Tsunami, the sister restaurant to Metropolitan and Lemongrass. call-the-health-department bad. I found Lemongrass to be very good when the Thai chef opened it, but she left pretty quickly after that, and it's been too Americanized - overly sweet and dumbed down - ever since. I've heard good things about Mexican Cafe but have not been. I will also induge in souvlaki, Greek salad or pizza from Chris's Charcoal Pit if I'm going by and I'm hungry. Or a good Italian sub from the counter at Giolitti's deli.

      2. re: sarah

        Sorry to disagree. There are a few higher end restaurants that are decent. Les Folies, O'Learys, Lewnes. But Chick and Ruths is disgusting, dirty and greasy. Yellowfin is run by the same people as Buddy's which just might be the consistently worst restaurant I've ever been to. Joss is O.K, Northwoods is mediocre and the food at the new Viet - Thai restaurant on Riva Road was inedible both times I've been there. Most everything in Annapolis is touristy drek and the vast majority of people I talk to who live here agree.

        1. re: mikeg

          I disagree. I'm in Annapolis all the time for work and eat at Ram's Head, Harry Browne's and Galway Bay for lunch. Consistently good, fresh lunch food with excellent service. The steak at Lewnes rivaled the overpriced DC establishments as well.

          And I love Chick and Ruth's. Maybe being an original NYer makes me love it.

          1. re: mikeg

            touristy drek? Yes, like any city that draws tourists,there are places with touristy drek - I deliberately did not mention them. Buddy's is at the top of the list, but Yellowfin, tho it is affiliated, is not in the same league. Severn Inn is. The dishes I have at Viet-Thai Paradise are very good to excellent - rich pho, the freshest, tastiest summer rolls I've had in the region - very well balanced spices and textures in the entrees. Did you ask to speak with the chef when you found your meals inedible? As for Chick & Ruth's -Ted Levitt runs a pretty tight ship - but it is a crowded place with crushes of people, both locals, state legislators, and tourist coming in at all hours. Personally, I love grease, and I love Ted's magic tricks! :)

            And I forgot to mention Jalepenos - making better tapas than Jose Andres at Jaleo in that city without touristy drek: DC.

            1. re: sarah

              Sarah, do you work for the city of Annapolis? I sense your sarcasm about D.C but to even compare the two cities is absurd. D.C and Montgomery County have dozens of great ethnic restaurants, Annapolis has none except maybe Lemongrass and that's debatable. Jalapeno's is not in the same leauge as Jaleo. Have you ever tried to get decent pizza or casual Italian in Annapolis? We drive over an hour to 2 Amy's in D.C constantly because they care about what they serve and use top-notch ingredients. I live in Annapolis and love the city but I get tired of having to drive to D.C or Montgomery County for decent food. I think people in Annapolis accept mediocrity and we all suffer. Your passionate defense of Chick and Ruth's and Viet-Thai only reaffirms my belief.

              1. re: mikeg

                ha ha ha! I've lived in Annapolis for a couple of decades, but I have always worked in downtown DC. I love 2Amys - hands down the best margharita pizza in DC, and worth the drive. But we weren't talking about DC,(and of course how could one compare all that DC has to offer to a small city of 36,000 souls?) I didn't mention any pizza in Annapolis because there ain't none. I was just pointing out that in my opinion there is good and sometimes great chow in Annapolis if you steer clear of the tourist places and know what their strengths are. No need to personally attack me, or question my motives, ok? I go to Jaleo (DC and Bethesda), Cafe Atlantico, Zaytinya and Taberana del'Alabardero quite freqently, and I still believe that the tapas at Jalapenos can more than hold their own. And the chef doesn't call it in every day. For higher end Italian I enjoyed Mona Lisa for the brief time it was in its overpriced existence on Rt. 2. No, not Tosca or the Lab, but they did great things with pastas. For casual Italian I stick to take out at Giolitti's, tho the Italian Market has good house-made pancetta.

                Go back and try the pho at Viet-Thai Paradise and the summer rolls, I can't imagine you will find them inedible.

                1. re: sarah

                  totally agree - i'm on your side Sarah

                  1. re: sarah

                    I apologize for the mean-spiritedness. I have dined out in Annapolis hundreds of times and I can objectively say I am disappointed 90% of the time. When I eat in D.C or New York it is just the opposite.Before anyone asks why I continue banging my head on the wall; well, sometimes I don't feel like driving 45 minutes to an hour to eat well. And yes Annapolis is a small town but with the demographics we have here it drives me crazy not to have many good dining options.I will try the Pho at Viet Thai, I love Giolliti's and I don't mean to be an angry, pompous ass. Sorry.

          2. c


            I've lived in Annapolis for the past 13 years, and I must say that I pretty much agree with your assessment -but I'm not angry about it. I've been to Pesce Grande a number of times and have had a couple of dishes that were good, but when we got them again they weren't. The bad times have outnumbered the good ones and it's off my very short list.

            I really like Tsunamis for cooked fish and it is consistently good. They're the ones who opened Lemongrass and Metropolitan and I'm hopeful that they'll both get better. Joss is excellent. Carroll's Creek is good for what it is -- neighborhood waterfront dining with an excellent tableside Caesar. Cafe Normandie still has good food,they make a consistently good (though not great) roast duck and excellent soups. Lewnes is a very good local steakhouse and unlike Ruth's Chris they'll give you half orders on salads or side dishes so two people dining don't spend an extra 25-30 bucks on potato, veggie and salad. There's also Sputnik Cafe in Crownsville that is very different, tries very hard and is getting much more consistent with their food.

            But yeah, still none of these places excite us. I'd always much rather go to DC or Baltimore. With all of the new developments going up I'm constantly waiting to see a good new restaurant -- but all we seem to get are mediocre chain places, the ubiquitous crummy but bad Italian places where you order at the counter. I've had nothing but disappointing food experiences at Northwoods, Yellow Fin, Luna Blu, Ram's Head, the Viet-Thai place and even the very pricey O'Leary's and Les Folies. I'd much rather have Blacksalt and Les Halles in Annapolis, and oh yes, Two Amy's, Pizza Paradisio or even Paolos for decent pizza. Perhaps someday.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chesapeake72000

              Sorry, don't mean to appear angry at anyone but it is disheartening to be consistently disappointed time and time again, as you mention.

            2. Having moved to Annapolis several months ago, we're in process of trying new places. While most places have varying reviews, for whatever reason we decided to try Pesce Grande. I wish I had my money back.

              Now, I don't care about the schizophrenic atmosphere of sports bar/Italian restaurant, but there was simply NO value in this meal, other than the wine. Started with a shared 'piccolo' version of the Caprese salad. Piccolo was an understatement. 2 1/2 slices of storebought mozzarella on about 3 oz of iceberg lettuce and 3 slices (crosswise) of a roma tomato...for NINE DOLLARS! A medium pizza of 4 cheese that was bread for all but about 6" inside - for $18 dollars, and 2 small plates of pasta, one seafood, one a version of Veal Saltimbocca for $14 each. They should be ashamed of themselves. $100 with tip for what were appetizer portions of not even tasty food.

              I swear, I cannot imagine how the reviews I read about this place were in any respect favorable. I can promise one thing...NEVER again, even for a beer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: GianniB

                Not a surprise, but Pesce Grande is closed.