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New place in Glen Burnie

From Wednesday's Maryland Gazette. Anyone going to try it?

www.hometownglenburnie.com/vault/cgi-

bin/gazette/view/2006G/12/20-01.HTM

OK - so this isn't going to fit on one line and the link dies, I've added a space, cut and paste both lines without the space and it should work now.

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  1. Dead link...try again...

    1. to see the link, you need to paste both lines into your clipboard, copy it somewhere so that you can convert it into one line, and then paste the entire .html line into your browser.

      Or you can go to http://www.hometownglenburnie.com/, and then scroll down to "Business" and open the story that says, "Restaurant featuring top chef to open in Glen Burnie."

      Fair use quote: "A well-known restaurateur hopes to spice up life in the heart of Glen Burnie, opening an Italian eatery next week in a spot that's been closed since a devastating fire six years ago."

      Chef is Mike Wagner, who worked at Piccolo's and taught at AA County CC.

      2 Replies
        1. You need to know about "Tiny URL" - www.tinyurl.com. Firefox even has it as an extension. It makes posting links so simple.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Atlantis

            Oh thanks - that's cool. OK - here's a link that works

            http://tinyurl.com/tbh56

            1. re: cbauer

              Last link did not work--"outdated"

          2. The place is called MJ Wagner's Via Mia. It is open now, though the official grand opening is 1/9. I went there last night and the foor and atmosphere are wonderful. Here's their website with their menu
            http://www.mjwagners.com

            1 Reply
            1. re: paul3mac

              Looks very cool - can't wait to try it! Thanks for the link.

            2. Hmmm. I posted a long, detailed review of this place based on my visit on Friday, but it seems to have been yanked for reasons unknown. Rather than retype it all (GRRRRR), I'll just say "Two thumbs up!"

              7 Replies
              1. re: Warthog

                Mike Wagner was a chef for me at HCAT. I was an active diner at Aida Bistro. He was never given control of a restaurant he brought to notariety. So now it is his turn. He has a gift with food. He butchers his own meats, researches for the real ingredients and puts it all together. The tastes are there, intense where needed, deep when required...just sit and eat and ponder the tastes and flavors of your palate. You are now in Michael's country.

                1. re: Scott Strong

                  Your mention of the flavors matches my experience. The seafood bisque I had was made memorable by a touch of some sort of hot pepper, and the Penne Putanesca demonstrated a nice balancing of the strong flavors of good olives, anchovies and capers.

                  In both dishes, the chef took the trickier course of using good quality ingredients with bold flavors, and balancing the flavors, rather than the more common approach of using milder flavors so that a lack of balance would be less noticeable if it occured.

                  Good ingredients and good balance were the things that stood out in my meal.

                    1. re: cbauer

                      Check the "menus" link on the web page - it has the prices listed.

                      http://www.mjwagners.com

                      1. re: Warthog

                        I did see that, but I was looking for a "value for price". In other words, did you feel that you got what you paid for.

                        1. re: cbauer

                          Yes. I think that they're pricing just about right for what I got, particularly on the entree. In order of "bang for the buck", I would say the entree was a very good value. The soup was a tad higher than I'm used to paying, but the portion size and quality was well worth it (just might not order it as often at that price point). The dessert was the only possible clinker - a little higher than I'd like - maybe a buck or two lower (even with a slightly smaller poriton) and I'd say nothing, but even so, it's not outrageous.

                          None of it was a rip-off, though I have a feeling that conveying "this is a *serious* restaurant, not a neighborhood joint or a diner" may factor into the slightly higher pricing on the ancillary dishes. I guess my main question is how their pricing model will play in Glen Burnie. For example, their soup pricing might not cause a blink of an eye in Baltimore or DC, but one wonders how it will play in a neighborhood where most of the competing restaurants will ask "You want a cup or a bowl o' dat, hon?" when you order soup.

                          In other words, even if the pricing is right in the abstract, is it right for the locale and the expectations of the customer base? Time will tell.

                          1. re: Warthog

                            Thanks, that's exactly the info I was craving. Let's hope this place sticks around and that word will get out.

              2. To those that have been, do you think reservations are neccessary at this point? Since they just opened are they packed or are people trickling in as they hear about it? Planning on heading over for dinner sometime in the next two weeks...

                3 Replies
                1. re: wawajb

                  There was plenty of room when I went on Friday, but they are doing a charity "Grand Opening" event tonight (to benefit some local Hospice, as I recall), and the PR for that event might create a buzz. Even so, I seriously doubt that reservations will be necessary, especially if you go on a weeknight. Can you think of a restaurant in the Linthicum Glen Burnie Pasadena Severna Park area where you *need* reservations to be assured of getting in? There may be a few, but none come readily to mind.

                  1. re: Warthog

                    No, I definitely cannot, but I wanted to make sure this wasn't an exception to the rule. Thanks!

                  2. re: wawajb

                    Going for dinner tonight...very much looking forward to it. I'll report back if I have anything to add to the comments already posted.

                  3. We went there for lunch today. The lunch menu is limited, but they will make anything off the dinner menu. The rockfish was excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

                    1. Let's hope this place doesn't go the way of Cafe Amore. I think the much better location will help out Via Mia though.
                      As far as reservations... I went there last week on a weeknight around 7pm. There were 3-4 other tables when we got there, but no new tables after we were seated. So, I'd say no, reservations aren't needed.

                      1. My wife and I ate at Via Mia tue. for the ribbon cutting, the place was alive! however maintaing a personal ambience. The food was delish! We started out with a lite "rocket salad" that consisted of arugula with a kind of sorbet. very refreshing. Then I had the osso bucco which literally fell off the bone. however the food was worth it, dinner was a little expensive (with a bottle of wine). Will we eat there again Yes.

                        1. Hi all,

                          We went last night, and I wouldn't be surprised if the ownership has changed.

                          We were the only table in the place, aside from a part of about 15 in the other room.

                          The waitstaff was nice. Casual, but I prefer casual to snooty anyday.

                          We'd rate the food just average. Had two starters, the fried calamari and mussels in white wine sauce. The calamari was tender, breaded nicely (if a bit blandly), and had both a marinara and a saffron aoli for dipping. Very generous portion. I had 11 mussels in the plate (chitzy), and broth was good but not "OMG this is to die for" good.

                          The bread that was given to us were those heat'n'eat french bread rolls. Piping hot, but so average.

                          Choice of soup or salad came with the order of an entree. The house salad is a nice mix of lettuces. Not mesclun, but romaine and others. Solid. The seafood bisque was rather bland. Chock full of seafood chunks, but the flavor was missing some "ooomph." A dash of sherry and a bit of salt would have helped. It also wasn't too terribly rich, as a bisque should be. So they may be skimping on the cream and thickening with cornstarch.

                          The entrees were decent. One was a linguine with red sauce and shrimp wrapped in prosciutto. The proscuitto was not very high-end. A good prosciutto when sauteed would have yielded divinity. This was like Costco-end prosciutto. The red sauce had a nice bite to it, however. The other entree was a Mediterranean Seafood (mussels, shrimp, scallops, squid) in a light saffron cream sauce. They sauteed all of the seafood at once. As a result, the scallops were way overdone. The calamari were perfect, and the shrimp just a hair overdone. The sauce was decent, but again missing that little "oomph" that would send it over the top.

                          Bill for two apps, two entrees, and 4 glasses of wine was $85. Average for Balto. Probably high for Glen Burnie.

                          While we weren't offended by anything, we weren't wowed, either. Reading the reviews, I expected to be wowed.

                          I'd love to find some great places in the Glen Burnie/Pasadena area. I've only found two: Trattoria Alberto and Tokyo Sushi. I was hoping to add Via Mia's to our repetoire of great stand-bys, but alas that wasn't the case.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: venera

                            I don't know if the ownership changed, but I seem to recall somebody posting previously that the owner and Chef Wagner had a falling out, and he's gone. My last visit left the same impression you post - that when he left, he took whatever creativity the food had with him. On that last visit, I found that al the menu items that I had mentally put in the "Gee, I want to try that on a future visit!" were gone, and the whole vibe of the food is now pretty run of the mill.

                            I hate to speak disparagingly of the locale, especially since I don't live all that far away, but it wouldn't surprise me if the conflict between the original chef and the owner were to have been triggered by the perception (correct or not) that there was a sophistication mismatch between the chef's vision and the customers who were actually coming through the door.

                            1. re: Warthog

                              Yes warthog - you got the dispute correct. That's exactly what was reported in the MD Gazette. He wanted more upscale and the owner disagreed and wanted to do more of a "Glen Burnie" thing.

                              venera - got to agree with you about Toyko Sushi - great food and service with a cheap price tag! What's not to love

                              1. re: cbauer

                                And having eaten there recently...I can understand the issue. It's great for Glen Burnie, and everybody I was eating with enjoyed their meal's VERY much (but we were also all starving after a long day of shoveling mulch), but it was strange to look at the decor and the prices and then see the typical Glen Burnie patrons sitting at the nearest table in ripped jeans and tee-shirts with beer logos.

                                (no offense glen burnie-ians...I was there with 3 Pasadena locals, so nobody had much room at all to talk)

                                But to the food...I also had the proscuito wrapped shrimp/pasta thing mentioned above and pretty much have to agree with verena. The sauce had a nice zip and it was definately good, but the proscuito wasn't the greatest. One of my table mates had some sort of mixed seafood dish which might have been the same as above and LOVED it. But her son is also part of the kitchen staff (though he was cold side that day) which might have been coloring her opionions. Though cooking seafood like that is a skill and may depend on who was back there throwing everything in the pan. (i.e. not waiting to put the scallops in last minute)

                                So I think it's still a strong effort...for Glen Burnie and I'd go again, though largely because my options in that area are so limited.

                          2. I drove by Via Mia tonight and they had a sign hanging above the front door... "Under New Management - Mexican and American Grill"
                            Don't have much more info besides that, but will try to get there soon and give a report.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: paul3mac

                              Short answer: DON'T BOTHER, unless you were really fond of the place before the switch.

                              Slightly Longer answer: Remember the part in Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, where he talks about people who should never have gotten into the restaurant business, and the way that some places you can know instantly are doomed, and everybody but the principals knows it? This is a worked example.

                              Tonight's meal:

                              Cream of Crab soup - pretty good, not outstanding, same recipe as prior iteratiion of this place - the Via Mia, but after the first chef (Wagner) left

                              Chile Verde - HINT TO THE KITCHEN - "Verde" means GREEN! OK, even the menu describes the dish as chunks of pork simmered in a flavorful tomatillo sauce. What came out of the kitchen was chunks of white meat (could have been pork loin, could have been turkey breast, could have been chicken - no discernable flavor) in MARINARA over plain white rice. Hey guys - Tomatillos are not tomatoes. I don't know which is scarier, that they would send the dish out the way they did, rather than admit they didn't have tomatillos, or the not-inconceiveable possibility that the crew in the kitchen didn't know the difference.

                              OK, here's my theory, in five easy steps

                              1) Chef Wagner opens the Italian place of his dreams - most of the dishes work, some miss slightly, but he has totally mismatched restaurant to neighborhood.

                              2) Disagreement with owners over direction of restaurant, exit Chef Wagner.

                              3) Remove any trace of creativity from menu. One page of 5 or so appetizers, one page of 5 predictable "crab and combo seafood platter choices, one page of 5 or so "Family" dishes (Roast beef dinner, roast tureky dinner, the token steak, some sort of BBQ, etc.), one page of 5 or so "Italian" (Predicatable pasta-based choices), one page of 5 or so desserts.

                              4) Still not working. Gee, there's a lot of Hispanics in the neighborhood, and a few low-price point "everybody speaks Spanish" restaurants seem to be making a go of it in Greater Glen Burnie - Let's become an "American and MEXICAN" restaurant!

                              5) Add a page of 5 or so pretty predicatable "Mexican" dishes - a burrito, some enchiladas, fajitas, and Chile Verde-that-isn't, but keep the rest of the menu.

                              You know how most diners have about 87 pages to the menu, but somehow they do all of the choices to a reasonable level of competency? Keep the "All things to all people" concept, radically reduce the actual number of choices, and remove the "competency" part. There's the Honey Bee nearby, and a Double T down at RT. 2 and Mountain Road. If you want wide selection at a decent level of execution, go somewhere that has the formula down pat. Don't waste your time at Via Mia. As I said, they're dead - they just don't know it yet. I give it six months, tops. Maybe more if the owners have deep pockets and don't know when to quit.

                              1. re: Warthog

                                Thanks for the warning. I wanted to try them when they first opened, but then Wagner left before I had the chance. I been scared off from the place since, especially after seeing the new menu. Reubens and Meatball subs under the heading of Creative Cuisine. When I first saw the note above I though maybe there had been an ownership change, and that maybe another terrific Mexican place had opened up. That's obviously not the case.

                            2. So the revolving door of the former Via Mia continues. The restaurant has reopened and is now called Ssake Japanese Restaurant. I do not have any information on whether it is the same owner or if any of the other staff are the same as previous iterations, but I did stop in a couple weeks ago. Asian cuisine is definitely not my specialty, but what I had I thought was very good (some sort of noodle and beef dish). They also had a pretty extensive sushi list. The prices were moderate. And of course, inline with this place's history, there was a curious section on the menu... an Italian section with 3 or 4 Italian dishes, like Fettuccini Alfredo.

                              Here is the Press Release from the Maryland Gazette:
                              GLEN BURNIE - Ssake Japanese Restaurant opened Nov. 3 at 8 N. Crain Highway at the former site of the Via Mia restaurant.

                              The new restaurant will serve Japanese food such as sushi and sashimi, and Italian food. It has a Korean chef, a Japanese chef and an Italian chef, according to Chong Barden, who is helping the restaurant get started.

                              Ssake will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and will reopen from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m for dinner. Fridays and Saturdays the hours are from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: paul3mac

                                Wow, that sounds like an absolutely terrible concept. And has anyone been to the former Viva la Raz, the new Mexican and Japanese combination?

                                1. re: Jason1

                                  I have been there as well. They have separated the Mexican and Japanese sides of the restaurants with separate entrances. The Japanese side is now called Tokyo Teriyaki and the Mexican side the sign above the door reads "Mexican Bar", and it looks to be the same Viva La Raza menu. The Tokyo Teriyaki side has removed all the Mexico-themed decorations and has spruced the place up a bit (some new paint, fixtures, etc.). Again, I am by no means an expert on Asian cuisine but what I got I really liked. Was less expensive than Ssake as well. I just don't understand why both places (which are, or at least were at one time I believe owned by the same Korean family) keep changing and the only constant is their weird nuances and odd food mergings.

                                  1. re: paul3mac

                                    Both the Tokyo Teriyaki and Viva La Raza menus are fine, but if it were up to me, I'd say bring back Shaking Duck Butt!!!!!

                                    I agree with the observation that these folks seem enamored of really odd restaurant fusion "concepts". Better to have a simple idea, executed well.

                                    1. re: Warthog

                                      I've eaten here twice in the past week and I am happy to report that they've abandoned the awkward "fusion concept" and have decided to concentrate on what they do well--Asian cuisine. I am not a big fan of sushi myself, but what I observed seemed well-executed and very, very fresh!

                                      My tastes run toward the hot entrees, and having lived in Korea for nearly 11 years, I can attest to their authenticity. The beef Bulgogi was excellent and the customary side-dishes were tasty. My counterpart's Galbi short-ribs were equally superb.

                                      Speaking with the sushi chef, I discovered that they also have a large patio in the rear that could permit traditional Asian barbeque and alfresco dining, when the weather warms. That would be interesting.