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Jul 19, 2006 05:29 PM

Sammy's Trattoria tries to conqure the death location

I went to the new Trattoria on the corner of Charles and Biddle last night. This is the former location of Tampico and Limogues. Both of those former residents folded in less than a year. While Tampico's failure was obvious (quite possibly the worst waitstaff-served food I ever tried) I always thought that would be a great location for a restaurant. Will the curse follow the new owner?

They haven't done much to change the interior from the previous tenants, and I don't think they needed to do much. The long bar up front is nice and the wall of windows makes for some nice people watching (in both directions). I was told by the bartender that the wine selection is top notch but did not try any last night so can't comment (the bottle of two buck chuck on the bar not withstanding).

My girl and I both ordered pasta dishes. Something I rarely do in a restaurant. I generally follow my wise grandfather's premonition: What can they do to a plate of spaghetti to make it worth $15? She had the alfredo and I had the carbonora. I must say both were excellent. I cringed when my girl ordered the alfredo fully expecting pasta swimming in a bowl of heavy cream but it was expertly sauces with plenty of good sharp cheese and black pepper. My carbonora seemed to be served with a ham-like prosciutto instead of the more bacon like pancetta, but I didn't mind. It was again nicely sauced, if understated, with just the egg coating. It came with sausage that could easy be moved to the side and eaten Roman style after having one's fill of the pasta.

In general, both pasta dishes were excellent. As is most often the case, I wish the portions were half the size and they would charge half the money. I did not inquire about half portions.

I had initially heard this was an off shoot of Chiperelli's in Little Italy. I was very glad to be corrected on that. The owner was working last night, often on the line in the open kitchen. He informed me that he was the general manager for Chiperelli's for 15 years and decided to leave and start his own place. This is completely his own and is not affiliated with the Little Italy restaurant in any way (the quality of the pasta speaks to that).

I enjoyed my first trip and will go again. A few more experience like last night and I will consider recommending it as a nice comfortable Italian place in Baltimore.

Any other 'hounds been there and have an opinion?

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  1. I believe it's "Sammy's Trattoria." (Alberto's is in Glen Burnie.) Have not been but glad to hear a good rec; B'more needs better Italian restaurants.

    1. We went there a few weeks ago after attending the symphony. The downstairs was full, and we were taken upstairs. (Where Maestro Termikanov and the rest of the soloists eventually appeared!)

      Since it was late we opted for a few light appetizers and some wine. We didn't want to power-slam a pound of pasta at 10:30 at night.

      The bread and olive oil to start were a treat. Chewy, crusty bread, nice virgin olive oil. They could have infused it with some flavour, but salt and pepper also do.

      The dishes we had were average. The calamari (fried, not grilled) were cooked to a turn and were of good quality: tender, not rubbery. The cornmeal coating was bland--they could have added some spices to perk it up a bit but didn't. I was unimpressed with the tomato sauce that came on the side with it. It, too, was a bit bland (though very fresh tasting). A dash of cayenne or some other spices could have helped perk it up.

      We also had sauteed broccoli rabe with italian sausage. The garlic was over-sauteed: it was dark brown and bitter. The dish had probably twice the amount of olive oil that it needed. The broccoli rabe was nicely cooked, wilted but still crisp. Nice italian sausage. A little too greasy overall, however, since the cook was heavy-handed with the EVOO.

      I can't remember what the third app we had was. It obviously didn't leave an impression.

      We did split a lime sorbet that was first-rate. Just the right amount of tang. Perfect palate-cleanser after the oily broccoli-rabe dish.

      The service was good enough. The host (owner, perhaps?) was a little flushed/annoyed/confused that we came in so late, but recovered quickly enough. I think he had wanted to seat the symphony VIPs upstairs all alone. Our server was prompt, friendly, and brought everything as soon as it was ready. It was all piping hot, nothing sat under a heat lamp.

      I think this is the sort of place we'll go to on a cold winter's night when we want to carbo-load. Sounds like the pastas are the way to go at this place. I'll update when after we've gone again.

      Happy eating!