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Non touristy Italian restaurant in Baltimore?

jjburke Jun 2, 2008 03:54 PM

I am having friends visit from NYC with kids. Can anyone recommend a non touristy Italian restaurant in the Baltimore area? They will be around the Inner Harbor, but don't mind driving around for some good (not too expensive) food!

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  1. s
    sas RE: jjburke Jun 2, 2008 04:02 PM

    Sammy's Trattoria

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      ronandaim RE: jjburke Jun 2, 2008 07:01 PM

      I suggest Amicci's in Little Italy. They are not expensive and also have a children's menu.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ronandaim
        kelarry RE: ronandaim Jun 2, 2008 07:50 PM

        pazza luna in locust point

        1. re: ronandaim
          KWynn RE: ronandaim Jun 3, 2008 07:43 PM

          Second Amicci's. This is our go-to place whenever we make it to Baltimore from DC. We always go here for dinner and then to Vaccarro's for some cannollis and coffee drinks.

        2. m
          michael4ny RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 06:01 AM

          Sotto Sopra on N.Charles.
          The best in town but a little pricey and definitely not your run of the mill Little Italy red sauce type of place.

          1. m
            michael4ny RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 06:09 AM

            Sotto Sopra, a little pricey, on N. Charles.
            Best in town but definitely not one of your typical Little Italy red sauce palaces.
            If that's what you want...keep looking.

            1. f
              FoiGras RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 06:32 AM

              Sotto Sopra is great, but not for a group which includes kids. It would be expensive and not necessarily the type of Italian cuisine that kids would particularly enjoy. I am putting on my thinking cap to make a suggestion. Presently, all I can think of is Sabatino's in Little Italy. But, I believe that after some consideration I'll be able to make a better recommendation. FoiGras

              1. l
                lawhound RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 07:24 AM

                Cafe Gia in Little Italy would work -- food is at least a cut above places like Sabbatino's and D'Amicci's, not as fancy as Sotto Sopra.

                1. t
                  tartuffe RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 07:42 AM

                  Cingiale in Harbor east. Great food and no red sauce in the place, and kids would be fine in the enoteca.

                  1. m
                    michael4ny RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 08:08 AM

                    Foigras is correct. I didn't see the "kids" part of the question.
                    On the other hand there are some pretty sophisticated "kids" in NY. I guess it depends upon their ages.

                    1. t
                      trillgirl RE: jjburke Jun 3, 2008 06:58 PM

                      A second vote for Cafe Gia. Took my kids, DH and his parents there... a wonderful meal and the best Tiramisu I have EVER had.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: trillgirl
                        chowsearch RE: trillgirl Jun 3, 2008 09:15 PM

                        can gia handle prime time now they're doing dinner? they wouldn't split a check to two credit cards and the one server, maybe owner's daughter, was stressed...

                        1. re: chowsearch
                          crowsonguy RE: chowsearch Jun 4, 2008 05:41 AM

                          Gia's: I found the owner's daughter to be unfriendly and unhelpful. the food, while pleasant, is not worth going back for.

                          1. re: crowsonguy
                            bbhoover RE: crowsonguy Jun 4, 2008 06:26 AM

                            I work in the area and totally agree with crowsonguy - totally not worth going back.

                            1. re: crowsonguy
                              baltoellen RE: crowsonguy Jun 13, 2008 03:15 PM

                              I think who you may think is the owner's daughter IS the owner. There's the daughter, the owner, and the mother. They are, to confuse things further, both named Gia. Of course, there could be a daughter or granddaughter there, too, making for three generations. I haven't been there since I checked it out shortly after they first opened, but the subsequent reports seem to illustrate a shockingly high level of inflexibility for a neighborhood place.

                              But, I found the owner and the mother, especially, to be very friendly.

                              1. re: baltoellen
                                Wangus RE: baltoellen Jun 18, 2008 11:01 AM

                                I agree with baltoellen. I've been to Gia's a number of time (mostly for lunches), and I've found Gia herself to be very friendly. She's never steered me wrong before.

                                1. re: Wangus
                                  ko1 RE: Wangus Jun 21, 2008 11:33 AM

                                  Which Gia herself?

                                  1. re: ko1
                                    kelarry RE: ko1 Jun 21, 2008 01:26 PM


                                    1. re: ko1
                                      Wangus RE: ko1 Jun 23, 2008 06:56 AM

                                      touché. The daughter's the one I see the most.

                          2. f
                            frequentcrasher RE: jjburke Jun 13, 2008 12:25 PM

                            kinda far outside of baltimore but i like going to pasta plus(dont let the cheesy name fool you) down in laurel at the intersection of route 1 and 198 Eastbound. small family place in a rundown strip mall where every other store front has been closed for years but they have a line out the door regularly. favorites include tortellini stuffed with ground veal in a light cream sauce with really good flavor to a killer linguine with mussels, clams, shrimp, scallop and half lobster in a beautiful marinara where the herbs and seafood flavor is rich and soaking into the pasta. the entrees range from 12 to 20 some dollars and they are all equally good and the interior is actually kinda nice in a comfortable way. weekend usually include other off the menu specials.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: frequentcrasher
                              tartuffe RE: frequentcrasher Jun 13, 2008 01:39 PM

                              The Enoteca at Cinghiale should accommodate reasonably behaved kids. IMO Cingiale is the best Italian in Baltimore and it is certainly non-touristy--altho traditional Italian in many ways. I ate there on Weds and found it just wonderful. The wine list was recently written up in Food and Wine, but the enoteca half is informal.

                            2. e
                              elgringoviejo RE: jjburke Jun 13, 2008 07:21 PM

                              Why not forget about Little Italy and go to Greektown for the best Mediterranean food in Baltimore. The Acropolis, Ikaros, Zorba's and Samos are four restaurants superior to the Little Italy tourist traps.

                              1. littlew1ng RE: jjburke Jun 18, 2008 01:01 PM

                                chiapparellis....best house salad EVER and very good, basic italian menu.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: littlew1ng
                                  gregb RE: littlew1ng Jun 18, 2008 01:12 PM

                                  I think jjburke is looking for the exact opposite of Chiapparellis.

                                  I have not been to Cinghiale yet, but based on Cindy Wolf's other restaurants, I have the utmost confidence that it will not disappoint.

                                  1. re: littlew1ng
                                    MizYellowRose RE: littlew1ng Jun 18, 2008 04:52 PM

                                    I have to agree about Chiapparelli's house sald--it was surprisingly good! However, I wish they didn't give you such a huge portion. We were so full after dinner!

                                    1. re: MizYellowRose
                                      BookGuy RE: MizYellowRose Jun 20, 2008 11:19 AM

                                      I went with a group of five and there were enough leftovers for single person me to make five days of meals. Don't knock the extra food that you can take home.

                                      1. re: BookGuy
                                        MizYellowRose RE: BookGuy Jun 20, 2008 06:17 PM

                                        We were there for a weekend visit so we couldn't take the food home :-(!!

                                  2. w
                                    Whitemarshjohn RE: jjburke Jun 20, 2008 06:27 PM

                                    Amiccis - just make sure to make a reservation ahead of time because they are very popular.

                                    1. w
                                      Whitemarshjohn RE: jjburke Jun 21, 2008 07:25 PM

                                      I mentioned Amicci's in my above post (they're reliable, inexpensive and all), but I DO have to say that Chiapparelli's has really great raviolis - I think they're are called Nona's Raviolis and they are really killer. Chiapparelli's is a tad more expensive then Amicci's but also has all the popular red sauce dishes and it, and Amicci's, are the kind of place where you feel comfortable bringing small children.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Whitemarshjohn
                                        dws RE: Whitemarshjohn Feb 22, 2009 02:04 PM

                                        In ten years of living in Baltimore I have yet to go to what i would say is a fantastic Italian Restaurant here. The closest is probaly Amicci's, only because they're consistantly solid and serve the basic stuff, and it's good. I haven't been to all of the Little Italy staples, but i know that Gia's is not great (although the mother, Giovanna, is fantastically sweet and nice), DiMimmo's is a joke-way too expensive and mediocrity galore, Cinghiale seemed to be more about hype than great food-yes they do have some decent stuff and some stuff thats too fussy and disappointing-if you're about atmosphere go here, but if you're about the food solely then look elsewhere, Aldo's is ok, but on the more pricey side and not incredible, La Scala seems hit or miss, depending on what you order, Sabatino's remains a mystery to me because I've never been impressed by anything there and again thought it was way too expensive-I get the feeling that back in the day it was the place, but suspect it's lost something with time. The first time I ate at Pasta Luna I took my mother and it was great, every time I've been back since-not as wowed, but I would still recommend it-I think it's good to make reservations. I've only been to Sotto Sopra's once and would agree that it may be worth a trip back.

                                        I would love to hear anyone's take on Boccacio or Dalesio's. I've always wondered if they were worth a visit.

                                        1. re: dws
                                          FoiGras RE: dws Feb 23, 2009 06:58 AM

                                          Boccaccio's is closed. Dalesio's isn't worth the effort. Try Liberatore's in Timonium. FoiGras

                                          1. re: FoiGras
                                            michael4ny RE: FoiGras Feb 23, 2009 10:07 AM

                                            FoiGras, I've read other posts by you and I know you're knowledgable but I cerainly hope the Timonium Lib's is a lot better than the NewTown one. Ordered a linguini with white clam sauce there on Sat. specifically because it's so easy and simple to make. Well, they managed to screw it up. Ever have white clam sauce that reminded you of library paste? Even the clams wre unattractive (if that's possible) and to top it all off, the pasta was badly ovecooked. Al dente is obviously a phrase they've never heard.

                                            1. re: michael4ny
                                              FoiGras RE: michael4ny Feb 23, 2009 11:13 AM

                                              michael4ny--Lib's Timonium location is definitely better. But, I must admit, haven't been there in over a year.

                                              I've only dined at the New Town location once, and agree that it didn't leave me with a favorable impression. YUK--white clam sauce that tastes like library paste! That's disgusting and totally unacceptable.

                                              Actually, it slipped my mind, but Cafe Troia, in Towson, is very good. Have had very good, even exceptional, meals there. They have a "killer" veal chop.


                                      2. h
                                        hon RE: jjburke Feb 23, 2009 11:44 AM

                                        Hopefully La Famiglia in the old Brasserie Tatin space will be great. I do like Pazza Luna in Locust Point.

                                        1. d
                                          dws RE: jjburke Feb 27, 2009 05:45 AM

                                          Wish I could say that Liberatores blew me away, but after having been to the Timonium and Perry Hall locations I was disappointed by both. I am glad that CafeTroia was mentioned because Ive always wanted to try that one. Also good to hear about La Famiglia going in place of Brasserie Tatin....definitely hope to check that out.

                                          1. l
                                            LittleItalyNative RE: jjburke Sep 18, 2009 01:01 PM

                                            Having been a resident of Little Italy for over 40 years I've seen many restaurants come and go, and it is with enthusiam that I suggest CAFE GIA. This is a family run restaurant that is here for the long haul and only seems to get better with every visit. Having started the Great food Low price trend with Amiccis, Gia's has improved on it while Amiccis has gone on to become a total tourist trap. It has been sad to see the low level that Amiccis has fallen to. Gia's has just recently received a LIQUOR LICENSE and now has their own great wine to add to their tremendous menu. When you are ready for a truly elegant meal at a below average cost, Cafe Gia is the ONLY remaining LITTLE ITALY restaurant that can provide both. ENJOY !!

                                            1. n
                                              Nancee Swartz RE: jjburke Apr 18, 2010 01:52 PM

                                              Sopra on North Charles, I agree with posters.

                                              1. n
                                                nyawira RE: jjburke Apr 18, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                Sotta Sopra or Pazza LUna. My husband and I went to Pazza Luna last Friday night since we learned it changed management and had a new chef. The food is very good again....like it used to be. I had the risotto in cream sauce with steak - it was to die for, and my husband had a ear shaped pasta which was also very good.

                                                Pazza Luna
                                                1401 E Clement St, Baltimore, MD 21230

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: nyawira
                                                  michael4ny RE: nyawira Apr 20, 2010 07:25 AM

                                                  Sotta Sopra or Sammy's Trattoria corner of Charles and W. Biddle

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