I remember reading an article a while back about the sale of the property to new owners. The new owners are responsible for the face lift. They also incurred the rath of local Little Italy residents by throwing (questionably legal) dance parties and trying to turn the place into a dance club. The former owner's got into the fracas stating that they were unhappy since there were certain stipulations that had to be met if they were going to keep the Vellegia's name.
It was a mess.
The whole affair turned me off. I haven't been keeping abreast of the situation and it certainly turned me off from trying the food (why risk it when there are so many other places in the area?).
I'd be interested in hearing recent (within the last year) opinions of the kitchen.
A little online digging came up with a Balitmore Business Journal article about the proposed changes (Dec 2005):
Most of the Sun's coverage is archived, but here is a summary (Sep 2006):
"...Coffman is set to appear before the liquor board, a state agency that oversees roughly 1,300 liquor licenses in the city, on a separate matter - he has yet to officially transfer the liquor license from the Velleggia name to his own name - but his hearing could be a lot more cantankerous given community outrage over the after-hours party.
Liquor board Chairman Mark S. Fosler said he visited Velleggia's twice Friday after his office received e-mails and telephone calls from Little Italy residents, and that it was clear to him that Coffman was throwing a dancing and drinking party, a possible violation of his liquor license which requires that at least 51 percent of sales be for food."
I have never eaten in the main restaurant but they recently opened a new bar dowstairs called The Grotto (or something like that). There isn't a sign outside - you need to walk into the restaurant and ask them to show you the door to "The Grotto." It's still in the early stages and is sort of a cross between your Grandma's basement circa 1982 and a big Sports Bar. But it has the potential to be a great happy hour destination. We went to happy hour there and ordered some pizza (thin crust Italian) and it was excellent.