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3 Nights in Baltimore

We will be spending three nights in the Inner Harbor as I will be attending meetings there. Heard that there is a decent "Little Italy". A friend of my wife (foodie?) suggested Chiparelli's or Sabatino's. We ARE real foodies and enjoy unique good food. What would you recommend? Are there other non chain or touristy Baltimore eating institutions we should consider? We have done the great Crab houses but I think my wife's cousin, who is joining us, doesn't eat crab (allergic!) or loves Italian.Thank you for your help.

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  1. I hope your friend finished that sentence by saying that they suggested Chiparelli's or Sabatino's as two place you might want to avoid.

    Really both place are fine for what they are: red sauce Italian places built on nostalgia. Really the best review of either place I've heard starts with, "my dad used to wake us up as kids late at night and we'd drive to Sabatinos." Don't go to either expecting culinary greatness.

    As for other recommendations, do you have a car? Or are you accustomed to urban travel via foot and/or cab?

    I couldn't tell by your request if you are looking for Italian place or wanted non-Italian recommendations.

    1. Forget "Little Italy." It is definitely a tourist trap. If you want some excellent Italian inspired cuisine, then I highly recommend Sotto Sopra, which is about a mile or two north of the Inner Harbor on Charles Street. If you venture to "Little Italy," you will be eating typical spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagne. Not much in the "foodie" Italian-type cuisine that your wife will enjoy.

      Charleston is in the Inner Harbor area and is considered one of Baltimore's best restaurants. It is pricey, but worthwhile food-wise and atmosphere.

      I am certain that some of the Chowhound's will recommend Cianghiale for Italian. I didn't have an overwhelmingly inspired experience when I dined there. Would give it a second chance if someone else footed the tab.

      Tabrizzi's is in the area on Key Highway. Lovely view on the water. Mediterrean-inspired menu. Although, one Chowhounder was completely unimpressed. My husband and I have always had delicious dinners there with professional service in a beautiful environment.

      Anyhow, welcome to Baltimore and hope you have an enjoyable stay, dining out and whatever endeavors. I am certain that many Chowhounders will be offering their input. FoiGras

      -----
      Sotto Sopra Restaurant
      405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

      2 Replies
      1. re: FoiGras

        I love the charcuterie at Cinghale. Sit at the bar, drink wine and eat meats and cheeses. Fantastico.

        1. re: FoiGras

          The two times I've eat @ Cinghale was fine but it wasn't good/worth the money. The pork ragu was really aweful and I couldn't finish it. Spend your money elsewhere. There are better deals to be had.

        2. Thanks for the imput so far ! I did some checking and found those two Little Italy restuarants overpriced tourist food. I will not go to that area
          Cinghiale and Sotto Sopra have been suggested as had Pazza Luna.
          As far as type of food we want,we are open to any suggestions of good solid food without the bells and whistles. I have also heard of a little place called Mama's On the Half Shell. Any feedback?

          -----
          Sotto Sopra Restaurant
          405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

          Cinghiale
          822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

          Little Italy Restaurant
          6920 Bradlick Shopping Ctr, Annandale, VA 22003

          Pazza Luna
          1401 E Clement St, Baltimore, MD 21230

          1 Reply
          1. re: il davis

            I've been to Pazza Luna several times and it has been underwhelming. They recently got a new chef so perhaps it has improved. The Helmand is a great Afghan place that I would recommend in Mt. Vernon.

            -----
            Pazza Luna
            1401 E Clement St, Baltimore, MD 21230

          2. my 3 nights would be:
            1. Charleston: Award winning chef Cindy Wolfe's flagship restaurant with local well prepared dishes
            2.Tio Pepe: long time baltimore fav, still brings it with excellent spanish cooking, great homemade sangria and deserts. big menu but definitely check out 20 or so daily specials
            3. Obrycki's: You must have a maryland crab feast for one meal and Obrycki's consistantly has good quality crabs.
            4. The Helmond: brother of President of Afghanastan afgan restaurant. food is great. worth the visit

            some will argue the tio pepe and obrycki choices but a balto grown foodie transfer to DC still loves these places as do my out of town visitors

            1. I second "Dining with Doc's" first two choices. Charleston is our City's jewel. With impeccable food and service, you will not be disappointed. Tio Pepes is a long-time treasure and quite a unique experience. It's basically in the basement of a few row houses. While there has been some debate around the food (some think it’s not as good as it was in years past), I also have never been disappointed. Stick to the house specialties-- sangria, the shrimp in garlic appetizer, fish and meat specials, and the pine nut roll and Spanish coffee for dessert.

              As for Italian, Chips and Sabatino's were the places to be decades ago. I personally don't think Pazza Luna is anything special, and although I really wanted to like Cinghale, I had 2 pretty disappointing experiences there. If you want Italian, I would suggest La Scala, which is not amazing, but very, very good. It's a neat place, as it has a bocce court downstairs. I also would suggest stopping for dessert at Vacarro's, which has the most amazing Italian treats in town!
              For your third night, I'd suggest the Wine Market if you are big wine fans. It's a restaurant attached to a wine store, so it's always fun to shop for a bottle and then take it to your table. The menu changes seasonally, but always includes unique, delicious dishes. Another neat place near the Harbor is Mr. Raine's Funhouse, which is in the American Visionary Arts Museum. A very diverse, unique menu, with excellent food in a fun, whimsical environment.
              Enjoy Baltimore!

              -----
              La Scala
              1012 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21202

              Wine Market
              921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

              Pazza Luna
              1401 E Clement St, Baltimore, MD 21230

              6 Replies
              1. re: stephanieg

                Thank you very much for your suggestions. We will report on our experiences.
                ildavis

                1. re: stephanieg

                  Wine Market is super fun for rockin' a buzz at lunch (or dinner)!

                  -----
                  Wine Market
                  921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

                  1. re: stephanieg

                    Does La Scala still offer soft cannolis?

                    1. re: stephanieg

                      Everyone is entitled to his (or her) own opinion -- which I suppose is the point of this board -- but the negative comemnts about Cinghiale above are a minority view. It is not inexpensive, but the food is very, very high quality, the service is top notch, and restaurant is bustling and handsome. Sotto Sopra is a good restaurant, but nor really in Cinghiale's league, and about as expensive.

                      -----
                      Sotto Sopra Restaurant
                      405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

                      Cinghiale
                      822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                      1. re: lawhound

                        I have to agree with those who were less than impressed. It was ok, and some things (the balsamic marinated onions especially) were quite good, but I wasn't blown away by it. I have not been to Petit Louis, but of the Wolf/Foreman places only Charleston has impressed me. Cinghiale was unmemorable, and Pazo was a terrible experience.

                        -----
                        Petit Louis
                        4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

                        Cinghiale
                        822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                        Pazo Restaurant
                        1425 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                        1. re: lawhound

                          I think the food at Cinghiale is always solid and well-crafted and, on occasion, brilliant (e.g. the roasted rack of boar). The wine list is one of the best Italian lists in the country, bar none. For out-of-towners, it's easy to get to, and it's nice to sit by a window overlooking the water.

                          For restaurants showcasing Maryland product/cuisine, I think the main places are Charleston (leave poor but happy), B&O, and Woodberry Kitchen.

                          One Bawlamer experience would be dinner in Fell's point, followed by a walk along the water and a drink/pub crawl/etc afterwards. Lots of spirited discussions of good Fell's point eateries, including Peter's and Henninger's (gastro pubs), Black Olive (superb but wildly erratic seafood), Mezze, Meli.

                          One restaurant worth looking at, though not uniquely Baltimore and part of a mini-chain, is the Prime Rib. It's one of a handful of restaurants in this country dedicated to the eponymous cut of meat. It's always done perfectly, and the restaurant is a total, kitschy time warp of black lacquer, grand piano, and animal prints.

                          -----
                          Mezze
                          1606 Thames St., Baltimore, MD 21231

                          Woodberry Kitchen
                          2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

                          Cinghiale
                          822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                          Black Olive
                          814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

                          Prime Rib
                          1101 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                      2. Sotto Sopra for Italian.
                        Charleston for upscale fine dining.
                        For Baltimore charm, go to Jack's Bistro, Peter's Inn, Annabel Lee Tavern and Woodberry Kitchen.

                        -----
                        Jack's Bistro
                        3123 Elliott St, Baltimore, MD 21224

                        Peter's Inn
                        504 S Ann St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                        Sotto Sopra Restaurant
                        405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

                        Woodberry Kitchen
                        2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

                        Annabel Lee Tavern
                        601 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD 21224

                        1. Salt and Woodbury kitchen are a must. Cinghale is great. Tuesday nights are half price wine nights. Any bottle on their entire list...which is impressive. Did not like jacks bistro...but most people do. Amiccis in little Italy is the local place to go. Aldo's is the high end Italian food place to go. Petit Louis is great too.

                          -----
                          Amiccis
                          231 S High St, Baltimore, MD 21202

                          Petit Louis
                          4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jamenaker

                            Most folks would place at least Sotto Sopra and Cinghiale, as well as Cafe Troia and perhaps Paza Luna, ahead of Aldo's. Even in Little Italy (which, sad to say, is not the epicenter of great Italian food today in Baltimore), there would be sentiment for Da Mimmo over Aldo's.

                            -----
                            Da Mimmo
                            217 South High Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                            Sotto Sopra Restaurant
                            405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

                            Cinghiale
                            822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                            Cafe Troia
                            31 Allegheny Avenue, Towson, MD 21204

                          2. Refrain from dining in Baltimore's Little Italy. I hate to say that, as I am a born and bred Baltimorean and support our local restauranteurs.

                            But, you mentioned that you and your wife are "real foodies," and Little Italy is "old school, Southern Italian red-sauce, spaghetti and meatballs type of cuisine.

                            If cost is no issue, then definitely try Charleston. A lovely upscale restaurant.

                            If Italian is your quest, then definitely Sotto Sopra. Romantic atmosphere, many versions of risottos, great grilled veal chop, appetizers, etc.

                            The Chowhounds recommended Chinghale. There is a definite split in opinion with regards to this restaurant. My husband and I were very disappointed and have no desire to return any time in the near future.

                            Woodberry Kitchen is an attraction. I wasn't overwhelmed by the cuisine, service, etc., but would definitely keep an open mind and return.

                            In any event, I hope that Charm City provides a nice dining experience for you. FoiGras

                            -----
                            Sotto Sopra Restaurant
                            405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

                            Woodberry Kitchen
                            2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

                            Little Italy Restaurant
                            6920 Bradlick Shopping Ctr, Annandale, VA 22003

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: FoiGras

                              The OP is from May, I am sure they have come and gone.

                              1. re: hon

                                This is why I appreciate a response from the original poster. Kind of "finishes the story" and also adds info to the data banks!!!

                                1. re: Hue

                                  that really is sort of annoying isn't it? I don't get wound up about this sort of thing, but esp as the OP did say there would be a reply: if I say I'm gonna reply, I do in a few weeks.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    Well I'm new to the area and this post is a great starting spot for places to try...first on my list is Tio Pepe! Their menu looks freaking awesome.

                            2. Well, in case it wasn't obvious that there's no consensus whatsoever. . . :-P

                              I had a way below average meal at Sotto Sopra but have really liked Pazo and Tabrizzi's. Is Cinghiale the one with the chef from the old Bicycle (when it was good?) If so, I've got to try it. Mama's is a bar, really, really low key. Like, bumper stickers on the walls. But totally worthwhile, imo, I loved the sauces and the oysters tasted very fresh. And the Helmand is good, too.

                              -----
                              Sotto Sopra Restaurant
                              405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

                              Cinghiale
                              822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                              Pazo Restaurant
                              1425 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21201