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How is Cinghale (balt.)?

We are fans of Cindy Wolfe's ventures thus far and planning on headed to Cinghale to celebrate a birthday. What's good? What's forgetable? Thanks.

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  1. There's an extensive post about this restaurant...

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/450073

    Don't forget to please report back on your experience!

    1. Was there in October and found it to be quite good. If you're going expecting the typical Sicilian style fare you find throughout Little Italy, you will be disappointed. If you're open and looking for a new offering of Italian cuisine, I think you'll be pleased.

      Of course, if you are like Baltimore Sun food critic Elizabeth Large who complained that the "kale soup tasted, well, like kale" then you'll hate it as much as she did and will probably be better off at Carraba's...

      8 Replies
      1. re: onocoffee

        Oh come one, now...Elizabeth Large didn't hate the place. She just didn't like the kale soup. Or maybe I read a different review than you did.

        1. re: Hal Laurent

          Hal-
          It's one thing to state that you didn't like the kale soup, or that it wasn't to your preference or expectation. It's completely another to state that the kale soup tasted like kale in the pejorative sense.

          I mean really, what would one expect kale soup to taste like? Chicken liver? To my mind, capturing the flavor of kale in a kale soup is something to be lauded than derided.

          1. re: onocoffee

            You keep bringing this up, and you're really being unfair. Her comment, which you misquoted, was "unless you adore kale, I would avoid the Tuscan kale soup, which has a health-food-store-blender feel to it and tastes, well, intensely of kale." That seems like a reasonable description to me. There are lots of intense flavors that I wouldn't want overwhelming a dish even when they play a central role.

            1. re: JonParker

              From Ms. Large's year-end wrap-up on the local restaurant scene:
              "Cinghiale in Harbor East is Tony Foreman's mostly successful attempt to re-create an authentic, traditional Italian enoteca and osteria. The more faithful it is to his original concept, the more Cinghiale looks to the best of the past."

              1. re: JonParker

                Jon-
                I hear what you're trying to say. However, a comment like that is amateurish and not of the level of journalism I would expect from the largest daily. Why anyone who doesn't like kale would order a kale soup and then complain that it tastes "intensely of kale" is beyond my understanding.

                Does one also order soup a l'oignon (French onion soup) and complain because it tastes of onions????

                How does this qualify as "credible"?

                1. re: onocoffee

                  When I read her review I understood it to mean that it tasted only of kale, as if it was only pureed raw kale w/out any seasoning or other flavors. I think it would be more like if the onion was raw or lightly browned and not a properly made French onion soup.

                  1. re: viperlush

                    I agree thats what she meant!

          2. re: onocoffee

            I'd love to see some Sicilian cuisine in Little Italy, which is predominantly southern Italian.
            http://www.italianfoodforever.com/iff...

          3. We have been their twice both times were only fair. The space is beautiful the food marginal the wine list very good. Another overrated Cindy Wolf Tony Foreman restaurant

            1 Reply
            1. re: sas

              SAS, I cannot agree. The salumi are almost all great, the pastas are wonderful, and the antipasti are pretty good. i have not ordered secondi or dessert yet, but the wines by the glass are interesting and sometimes a great value. Some complain re portion size, but I have found an antipasti or salumi and a pasta are enough for me (the food is very rich, as someone pointed out on this Board).

              As for the rest of the Wolf/Foreman group, the only one that might be over-rated is Petit Louis, where I eat fairly often; it is still quite good (biggest problem there is untrained college students as servers). Charleston and Pazo are worth every penny and more.

            2. The charcuterie plate is good (althought there are no accoutraments with it). I thought the cuttlefish stew was probably one of the best things I've had in a long time (chunks of creamy white polenta dot the stew). The suckling pig was a bit over cooked and dry. I really enjoyed myself over all (I snacked on my GF's plates). I can't wait to delve deeper into the menu.

              1. OK so we went to Chingale (excuse my earlier misspelling) for my husbands birthday and well it just isn't great.
                Somethings we loved- The space is beautiful, the slaumiaeria selections tasty, the cheeses top shelf-we had a great white truffle oil cheese with black truffle shavings in it=out of this world- the solmalia was a great help, and it is fun to choose your dining room& level of swank (we choose the more causual entroteca(sp)

                But alot was off often way off
                First off the menus are daunting there are so many selections and it is nearly impossible to naviagte it yourself- if you don't want to get intimate with your server about choosing your meal this is not the place for you.
                The food I think is well conceived but not well executed. Almost all of the dishes were way over salted,from the butternut squash soup to the mianase vegetable to the walnut sage sausage pasta.
                The only exception of the poorly seasoned food was my entree, which I liked a mediterranean seabass with a meyer lemon sauce- this was well balanced and perfectly cooked

                Now a moment on the horror of a Kobe Steak that was served to my husband.
                1. it was served with french fries, while that is odd it could work if the fries are good, the fries were so salty you couldn't eat them and they were double fried and limp (like the terrible Burger King Fries) What are they thinking there- I know Cindy Wolfe knows a good fry-they are great at Petite Louis.
                2. The steak, while a great piece of meat it was not allowed to rest before it was sliced and served so all of the juices ran out on the plate rather than being absorbed back into the meat

                Dessert was again uneven: The Tiramisu was the best but still not the best tiramisu out there by far, The semolina cake with blood oranges was good but bordered on being too sour, the lemon sorbet was too sour

                Chingale needs kitchen help!
                I think this is great place to go and have a drink and some tatsty bites from the salumeria
                but they have some kinks to work out

                1 Reply
                1. re: poached

                  I'm under the impression that, in the year that has past, the kitchen has gotten its act together.

                  Also, to set the record straight, Charleston and Petit Louis are Tony Forman/Cindy Wolf operations.

                  Pazo and Cinghiale are Tony's projects....

                2. Moving this up.

                  1. Very much later than your inquiry, here's what I thought: I went w/ my parents to get a light meal at the bar, enjoy the ambiance, and order by whim. We had a wonderful meal, reminiscent of travels in Spain and Italy. The bar is expansive and visually rich. The vibe is large scale enoteca, with a large wine list of wines by the glass, both 3oz and 6oz pours. I love this - if I don't want a bottle, or several of us have different tastes, we can all get what we want easily. Getting a bottle proved to be the best choice on this cold and wet night. And with the extensive and expensive wine list, we scored a great value wine - ie: under $40 (restaurant prices) and very satisfying. It was a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Cantina Zaccagnini, '05. As a reference point, I drink and buy a lot of wine. After living in Europe, the sticker price shock of wine in American restaurants often results in my choice to either not buy wine, or go for value. I've got a couple of hundred bottles of wine at home, and it irks me to pay the price of a bottle retail for a glass in a restaurant. Given all that, the wine we had was excellent. Not a thin Montepulciano, but rich and lush. Great texture and body.

                    Coupled with the cured wild boar w/ horseradish shaved on top, and some Ciringula olives, we were quite happy to just experience the blend of flavors and memories of both Spain and Italy. The fried broccoli was very nice - not too oily, quick fried and a nice portion for three to share. We paired that with the beet salad, which was a combination of cubed red and gold beets, a bit of goat cheese, presented simply but elegantly against the classic styled proprietary dishes. We didn't know if we would continue ordering small plates, or get a main course or two. After reading the menu - which was not confusing or overwhelming (as someone wrote in their post), we ordered the Maiale - two nice sized pork chops grilled with a wine reduction sauce, mushrooms, and leeks. For those who are moaning in other posts about the size of the portions, here's our take - we were able to split this main dish three ways with NO problem, getting about 6-7 ounces of meat per person. Given the level of obesity in this country, and the cultural norm of oversized portions, I often split main entrees with others because large sizes, for ME, are ridiculous and unhealthy. I'm not looking to leave a restaurant stuffed (well, I used to, but now it's much more about quality than quantity, otherwise I'd be eating at buffets and all-you-can-eat places. So we had plenty of meat, and got a side of chard.

                    Everything was cooked very well, juicy, flavorful, and reflective of true osteria style food - basic, fresh, and simply prepared.

                    Rather than have desert, we choose to have decaf espresso topped off with the excellent and addictive Grappa Miele - a grappa with mint and honey flavor infused, making an excellent after dinner coffee.

                    Value for money? Three of us ate a very nice meal with a bottle of wine for $135. The service from the bartender was excellent, informative, friendly. It was a Saturday night, but a January Sat. night - slower season, weak economy, Ravens football game...so perhaps not as crowded as it might otherwise have been. If I lived in Baltimore, this place would be a mainstay for me. We were able to sit and talk, laugh, eat at a leisurely pace for 2 hours, and leave feeling satisfied.

                    A note on my interpretation of some of the post I've read - being from Baltimore originally, my assessment is that a lot of people I know have unrealistic expectations and enjoy being critical to show sophistication. Going out to eat, for me, is about injoying ambiance, interesting preparations, and good products. If I go out on Saturday night (which I usually don't - as an ex-server, I believe it is one of the worst nights to go out to eat and get table service), I'm not surprised if the kitchen is swamped and things take time. From my travels and living in Europe, I find it much more enjoyable to eat at the bar in a good restaurant. And I'm not looking to get engorged with a large portion of anything. Clearly, that's why I prefer dining in the grazing style - tapas, small plates, mezzi, whatever you care to call it.

                    I would go back to this rest. and would recommend it to people open minded enough to realize it isn't about the size of the portions, but the authenticity of the food. And Italy being so diverse, with many regions, one would need to realize that there are numerous regional styles. I'm reminded of 'The Big Night', when a patron ordered rissotto and was upset when it arrived at the table without spaghetti.
                    Enjoy. And don't forget to try the flavored grappas.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ACT

                      I've only eaten in the wine bar, but I've found the food to be fairly inconsistant. Some things are great (the guilty pleasure fried chicken for example), while others have been underseasoned, over seasoned or poorly thought out. Having said that, it's still an enjoyable experience. The wine selection by the glass is fantastic, it's a really nice space, and the service has been great. And you can also have a good meal with careful ordering and some luck, but you never know.

                    2. After being disappointed by Cinghiale shortly after its opening, I can tell you that I was absolutely delighted by my meal there last night. I was lured by the 50% off all wines in the Enoteca side (every Tuesday). Terrific wine list, great sommelier. Wines that needed decanting were, without prompting. Stemware is good. Service was excellent and friendly. Food was much more polished and consistent. Tried two excellent pastas; a lobster agnolotti and a rabbit and cabbage ravioli. Duck was good (though sauce a bit heavy on the demi). Salumi were excellent.

                      All in all, excellent. There's certainly, IMHO, no other place in Baltimore with as great a commitment to great Italian wine and Northern Italian cuisine. Great space, too. This place found its legs, and now it needs to find the customers to stay afloat in this economy--which I earnestly hope it does.