BHG's Local Favorite Restaurants Reviews
From the moment you approach the huge wooden door to enter, la Scala feels special, and it is! We had a reservation for 8pm on a Thursday in January, and la Scala was “hopping.” The attractive bar was lively. The first thing we saw as we entered was a happy group of people playing bocce ball on la Scala’s popular indoor bocce ball court. The bocce ball court has its own lower level and is open to the bar and entrance above. It also has a lovely lighted mural of an Italian seaside village. It was obvious that the folks playing bocce ball were having lots of fun, as a group was still playing when we left much later in the evening.
Even though they were very busy, we had no wait and were taken directly to our table. Upstairs, every room, including the two private dining rooms, was full of laughter and delightful conversation. Everyone seemed to be having a really great time and enjoying la Scala. Our waiter greeted us immediately and throughout the evening he was professional, knowledgeable, helpful and pleasant. He made us feel good about our choices and his suggestion regarding our appetizers was perfect. He was watchful, but adjusted his inquiries to our relaxed, slower pace.
We selected a nice mid-priced Italian Chianti which was excellent and exactly what you would expect from a quality Italian Chianti. La Scala has a great wine list with selections from all over the world, including 38 wines by the glass offered that night. My companion ordered a Manhattan up, which was excellent. Shortly after we were seated, a basket of warm fresh bread was placed on our table and olive oil was poured on our bread plates for us. Oh, the olive oil! We dipped our light, crusty fresh bread in the most delicious and flavorful olive oil.
We shared one of Chef Nino’s la Scala specialties, grilled Caesar salad, so that we could also try the calamari and still have room for our entrees. The grilled Caesar salad (divided and served on two separate plates without our asking) had a warm smoky flavor and just enough creamy dressing and grated parmesan cheese. It is unique and delicious. We like it so much that we order it every time we go to la Scala. The calamari was light and tender and was served with the most wonderfully flavorful marinara sauce.
Our entrees were superb. The tender melt-in-your-mouth Al’s Way New York Strip Steak was cooked to perfection and loaded with plentiful jumbo lump crab, sun-dried tomatoes, and a delicious sherry shallot cream sauce. Vitello e Gamberi Baltimore was tender and delicious veal scaloppini, also generously topped with jumbo lump crab and gulf shrimp, sliced Roma tomato, melted mozzarella and white wine sauce with just the right amount of Old Bay, lightly seasoned and a nice Baltimore touch. Each entree was served with the perfect side dish of la Scala’s fresh homemade pasta and delicious marinara. Although we were quite full, we ordered espresso cannoli to share and chocolate cannoli to take home. I believe these deliciously sweet desserts are made according to chef Nino’s mother’s authentic Italian recipe. If you like cannoli, and who doesn’t, la Scala’s cannoli are a must-try!
Chef-owner Nino Germano is a natural host and everything about la Scala is first rate. Our dinner could not have been more delicious and perfectly prepared. The service, the atmosphere, the manner in which Nino (and everyone who works at la Scala) treats his customers makes you feel like you are very important to them and that they truly care that you enjoy your visit. All in all, it was a perfect evening - one of many that we have experienced over the years at la Scala.
Baltimore was recently ranked #2 in the country on Zagat’s list of Top 17 Food Cities of the Year (2015), and in our opinion la Scala definitely helped Baltimore achieve that ranking. If you want that very special evening out, la Scala is perfect. If you want a nice casual night out and a reasonably-priced meal, la Scala has that covered too. La Scala is rated “Excellent, extraordinary” by Zagat, and la Scala definitely is consistently excellent and extraordinary.
What Makes la Scala ristorante italiano A Baltimore Harbor Guide Favorite, by BHG Staff
White linen tablecloths, fresh flowers on your table and a hugely popular signature salad served with freshly-baked bread are only the beginning of your dining experience at Baltimore's famous Chiapparelli's Restaurant in the heart of Little Italy. Family owned and operated for over 70 years, this traditional Italian restaurant offers a fine menu of well-known favorites and "Chip's" specialties along with a very nice selection of wines to enjoy. The calamari with homemade marinara is always tender and delicious. The seafood dishes are exceptional, and the homemade pasta dishes are always tasty. My favorite is the veal marsala! And save room for awesome tiramisu and other delicious desserts. Our family has chosen Chiapparelli's for special occasions or just a nice relaxing night out for almost 20 years, and previous generations of our family have loved Chiapparelli's since the 1950's. There are two lovely dining rooms and the recently remodeled and very attractive Italian wine bar with additional comfortable seating for dining on the first floor. Additionally, there are private rooms upstairs for banquets, parties, rehearsal dinners, etc., and Chiapparelli's excels at making your special occasion perfect. You can count on excellent service, "old world" hospitality and delicious cuisine every time you visit Chiapparelli's Restaurant. Chiapparelli's is a definite BHG Favorite and has been a family favorite for three generations.
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With a stunning outdoor deck seating section, you will always find the best seat in the house at Tir na Nog. The restaurant’s general location is also worth noting as it provides an excellent place to pop in for a nice meal on the way to the ballpark, or as you tour around the charming Baltimore Inner Harbor Area. Personally, I found that Tir Na Nog was quite accommodating when I made a reservation for more than ten young ladies for a bachelorette party dinner before an Orioles game. They sat all of us at one fantastic table outside with a great harbor view and even gave us a couple of cute, young waiters. We thoroughly enjoyed the view, the service, and the food & drinks. Bravo, Tir Na Nog!
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What Makes Tir na nÓg Irish Bar & Grill A Baltimore Harbor Guide Favorite, by Christin Beetz
The atmosphere here is lovely. Sophisticated, but very relaxed and never stuffy, Langermann’s has created a very comfortable ambience that lures you in immediately. The wait staff is attentive and polite, able to get you what you need without intruding too much, and the pleasant background music has been a different eclectic mix every time I have been there. Dine-in seating is spread comfortably throughout, there is an upstairs area for larger parties as well, and the bar is situated unobtrusively in one area. When I go out to a restaurant that also has a bar, I would rather not hear the bar patrons overwhelmingly throughout my meal, especially when I’m trying to hold my own conversations (or hear myself think). Langermann’s has handled this perfectly. Lastly, my efforts at securing easy, free parking
for the duration of my meal at this restaurant have by far been the easiest I have ever encountered in the city.
Things to Know:
The thing about Langermann’s that makes it so worth a visit is the way that they can take something mundane and make it new again. As a Baltimore native, I have experienced seafood in more ways than you can believe; shrimp, scallops, fish, and the tried and true Baltimore crabs and crab cakes especially. I love seafood, and after 20+ years of living in Baltimore I can safely say that I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by it anymore. Langermann’s seafood is simultaneously the same high quality you would expect from a top-flight restaurant in Baltimore, but with just enough of a Southern flair to be a delicious variation from the exceptional traditional Baltimore seafood. But it’s not just seafood. If, for some reason you’re not feeling seafood on any given day, Langermann’s has many other delicious, mouthwatering, Southern-inspired options such as the grilled hanger steak, maple smokehouse rubbed duroc porkchop, smoked sea salt and black pepper crusted ribeye, and the braised beef short rib. And, just because it’s not seafood doesn’t mean it takes a backseat or is treated like an afterthought. These dishes are just as good as their seafood counterparts, and definitely worth trying.
The Food: I have been to Langermann’s on several occasions: once, in the upstairs area for my sister’s wedding reception meal; again, several times in the main dining area for dinner; and twice more, on Sunday mornings for Langermann’s awesome brunch. Here’s what I can tell you: all three types of experiences were completely different and definitely worth sharing. One thing that bears mentioning: Grits! Now, I don’t want to offend those of you from the South who really know how to do your grits, but I have never really found any that I am satisfied with until recently. And, yes, by recently I mean Langermann’s. I would seriously encourage those of you from the North or who have never had any affection towards grits to give them a try. You will be very pleasantly surprised, I’m sure. As for you Southerners who can never find anything that lives up to your expectations when you are away from home, I would encourage you to try these as well. I have a strong feeling you won’t be disappointed. And Langermann’s Charleston Shrimp and Grits is one of the best seafood dishes I have ever had.
No Time? Here’s What’s Most Important: Langermann’s boasts free, easy to find parking, a sophisticated, classy bar area as well as a separate dining area, an emphasis on excellent service with great food, and is an appropriate choice for most situations (families, dates, business dinners, celebrations, etc.).
What Makes Langermann's A Baltimore Harbor Guide Favorite, by Sarah K.
Regi’s American Bistro was quite busy on a weeknight in January, and our server was friendly, calm and quick. Her efficiency and personality made for excellent service and a wonderful evening. She poured my companion’s Manhattan up right at the table, and it was superb. She brought us a basket of bread, soft on the inside with a delicious chewy crust and the most delicious fresh creamy butter. We also availed ourselves of the Thursday night special – half price bottles of wine from Regi’s large and varied wine list. Our Querceto Chianti Classico proved to be an excellent choice. As we settled in with our wine, we took in our surroundings – nice white paneling and brown ceiling fans, windows through to the bar and the outside patio dining area, and beautiful, interesting and original Baltimore art by talented local Federal Hill artist Crystal Moll.
We decided to try both the traditional Maryland crab soup and the cream of crab soup, and each had unique and delicious qualities. The Maryland crab soup had a spicy tomato broth and plenty of delicious crab and fresh vegetables. The Cream of Crab soup was rich and creamy with the gentle taste of sherry and plenty of crab. Both soups were topped with a generous garnish of lump crab meat, and both were superbly done and excellent! We also ordered AJ’s award winning tater tots – hot and crispy outside with tasty potato inside, topped with bacon and a creamy cheese sauce – flavorful and fun to share.
For our entrees, we had to try Regi’s award-winning jumbo lump crab cakes which definitely lived up to their reputation. My companion is a retired Maryland waterman, and he said Regi’s crab cakes were authentic Maryland crab cakes, every bit as delicious and authentic as his Dad used to make – loaded with delicious lump crabmeat, with parsley and butter, perfectly seasoned, moist and broiled to perfection! Besides exceptional flavor, there were zero shells. This is hard to do and shows the attention to detail of the preparers. In a town famous for its crab cakes, Regi’s crab cakes definitely compete for the best in town!
We also tried one of Regi’s Specials – the hearty short ribs of beef with delicious mashed potatoes and green beans, which was true homemade comfort food with its large portion of tasty and tender lean beef and sensational, flavorful gravy. On a cold January night, this was the perfect choice to warm you up.
We had a wonderful time at Regi’s American Bistro. If you want a real Baltimore neighborhood tavern/bistro experience with the added bonus of excellent and authentic Baltimore seafood dishes and other great choices, Regi’s is a must-try for visitors and locals alike. The crab cakes and crab soup are worth the visit alone.
What Makes Regi's American Bistro A Baltimore Harbor Guide Favorite, by BHG Staff
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Warm and welcoming, In Like Flynn Tavern's classic blue-gray exterior with extra large windows invites you in to this family-owned gathering place. Relax with a drink in the newly-renovated, attractively casual bar and dining room with interior flower boxes and exposed ducts. There are several great choices on tap, and our friendly, attentive server said they are always adding something new. The Flynn family menu offers a tempting variety of traditional Irish, American, and Caribbean choices including hot and hearty Beef and Guinness Pie topped with fresh-baked homemade pastry, Irish Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese, sizzling Burgers with Hand-cut Fries or Sweet Potato Fries, Caribbean Jerk Shrimp, and some really delicious side dish specials like creamed spinach and rice with mushrooms. This neighborhood tavern is very convenient to Fort McHenry and offers free street parking, happy hour Monday through Friday, live music including traditional Irish, and nice, engaging service. In Like Flynn is the kind of place that makes you want to keep coming back to try each item on the menu.
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What Makes Emporium Collagia A Baltimore Harbor Guide Favorite, by BHG Staff
Step into Emporium Collagia and you will be pleasantly surprised by the vast array of extraordinary and unusual items in this cozy shop. If you are looking for something truly unique, a personal indulgence or a gift that no one else has and that everyone will be intrigued by, this is your shopping choice. I have been in Emporium Collagia numerous times over the past few years, and everytime I go in, there is a whole new collection to choose from. I usually walk around Luana’s store once and then go around again to see even more great stuff that I missed the first time around! Owner and collage artist Luana Kaufmann is your friendly but unimposing hostess, and her creativity and care are apparent all over her shop. Whether you are visiting Fell’s Point for the first time or you live nearby, Emporium Collagia is a destination to visit and enjoy often.
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I cannot say enough great things about James Joyce. If soccer is your sport, then James Joyce is a great choice. With warm, inviting dark wood, and bartenders who are cheering on the match as they pour you the perfect pint, James Joyce is the type of place that you just want to make your “regular spot”. Don’t even get me started on the food. I always take at least fifteen minutes to choose a dish because everything that I have tried on the menu is actually as good as it sounds. For an absolutely authentic Irish experience, James Joyce is one of the best spots in Baltimore and beyond.
What Makes James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant A Baltimore Harbor Guide Favorite, a BHG Quick Review by Christin Beetz
Authentic taste combines with authentic atmosphere to make Chiu's Sushi a delicious choice for a sushi lunch or dinner date. Chiu's is family owned and operated, not your typical, mainstream corporate, overpriced sushi spot. If you need another reason to try Chiu's Sushi, for an added plus - the staff is super friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive. You will want to make Chiu's your "go-to" sushi spot after one visit! .......
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I work downtown and Isabella’s is my absolute favorite lunch spot. Whenever I order from here, I always have coworkers tagging along. I have serious trouble deciding between the King Richard pizza and the Italian Cold Cut, but end up going with the cold cut (with everything on it) more often than not. Hands down, the best sandwiches in Baltimore for my money. Isabella’s has amazing Italian meats, which really make the difference. Prices are very reasonable compared to other options in the city, but few others come close to the quality of this authentic Italian spot.
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I have had the best experience going to see Mary at Spa Glyka in Fells Point. She always takes extra time to make sure that I get the exact color and cut that I want. We have had so much fun planning colors and styles for the seasons to come! One time, she even took extra time out of her day to style my hair in curls- just for fun- when I was her last appointment of the day!
Mary and all of the staff at Spa Glyka are very friendly and always fun to interact with. You really feel like you are chatting with an old friend while also getting superior service. The laid back, welcoming atmosphere makes you feel right at home and leave looking forward to your next appointment!
Mary and Nina have created an atmosphere with the perfect balance of professionalism and fun. Add fantastic products and services without the pretentious nature of other salons, and you have a perfect place for all of your beauty needs. I love Spa Glyka, and I cannot wait to try their other beauty services!
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