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Mar 21, 2013 08:01 PM

Where is your "piazza" in Baltimore?

A few weeks ago I encountered a waiter in an Italian restaurant here in Baltimore. Curiously he was not only a waiter but a physician on leave from Naples for a six month stint helping a friend in her local restaurant. He pointed to a photo of a strand of beach near Naples and related meeting friends each morning at six AM for a croissant and espresso. He asked "where is the piazza in Baltimore"?

I have traveled a little in Italy and thought of the town and village centers where people gather for food and conversation. It is defined by some as the center of public life.

In Baltimore is it an area, a place, a particular restaurant, or a place with a unique or unusual ambiance.

If you have a suggestion let me know and I will tell you what his thoughts were tonight when I answered his question.

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  1. Belvedere Square would be one possibility.

    1. It should be the square at the end of Broadway. A true piazza would mean limiting car traffic, but it would be a perfect place for restaurants to expand outdoor seating, string up some nice lights, and share the cost of outdoor entertainment. It has great potential for early morning get togethers going straight through to the evening dinner crowd.

      1. My idea of the piazza would be something like our local coffee shop "Common Ground" in Hampden. A number of people pass through or congregate and exchange ideas and news. There are quite a few regulars and diversity of opinion abounds. Through these exchanges relationships form. I related my theory to our waiter and he said the piazza is where your real friends are- not casual friends but the real ones.

        I enjoyed both responses (Belvedere Square and Broadway) and recall an experience many years ago on the Fells Point piazza.

        It was an early summer Sunday morning and my wife "R" and I arranged to meet another friend at the foot of Broadway. We arrived and R settled down at an outdoor table near the south market shed with her Sunday paper and coffee to await the arrival of our friend. He drove up and we walked over to speak to him in his van leaving her paper and coffee at the table.

        Meanwhile a young lady who appeared to have been winding up her Saturday night in Fells Point early on Sunday morning sat down at our table and proceeded to spill R's coffee on her Sunday paper. When we returned to the table R said to her "you have spilled my coffee on my paper" She protested so loudly that R turned to our friend who had come to join us and said "let's go Arthur, I don't want to deal with the low end". Upon hearing this the young lady's protestations grew louder and more animated.

        She said "Low end? Low end? I ain't no #$@@ low end." Whereupon R turned to her friend Arthur and said "I guess she proved her point!" ;)

        Sorry for the detour. Any other ideas where Baltimore's piazza is?