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Mexican restaurant La Tolteca opens in Cockeysville

Travelling the York Road corridor through Cockeysville, you could sit down for some Thai or Indian food, savor all-American ribs, sample Peruvian chicken, or grab a slice of pizza. But you’re hard pressed to find a full-service Mexican restaurant.

The owners of La Tolteca Mexican Restaurant on Baltimore Pike in Bel Air changed that Jan. 10 by opening thier second location at 10010 York Road.

The spot is in the former location of Seasons Pizza. Seasons moved a couple of hundred yards away from its original location, to 20 Church Lane.

The 140-seat restaurant employs about 15. The new La Tolteca features the same menu as the original restaurant, showcasing fajitas, burritos and the Gordo’s burrito stuffed with chicken and chorizo and covered with cheese dip. Martinez says the Bel Air location is known for its margaritas.

Seasons moved into its new digs in August. Assistant Manager John Metzbower says the new Seasons seats about 80, about the same as the former location. The renovations of what used to be the old Grapevine Restaurant took about eight months. Seasons, a BYOB joint, employs 10.

Seasons is a regional chain, with about 25 locations in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Alfonso Martinez, co-owner La Tolteca; John Metzbower, assistant manager, Season’s Pizza.

Fazzini's opening in former Piv's Restaurant space in Cockeysville

Fazzini’s Italian Kitchen is moving to a bigger spot in Cockeysville that will give the BYOB restaurant a liquor license and more than five times the seating capacity.
The Italian restaurant will open within three months in the shuttered Piv’s Restaurant space at 9811 York Road, Owner Ari Brownstein says.
The new spot will give them 225 seats, including a patio, versus 40 in the current location. Fazzini’s will take over Piv’s liquor license.
The new location is about a block north of Padonia Road, where Ryleigh’s Oyster House of Federal Hill opened a Timonium outpost in November, and a couple blocks south of Cranbrook Road, where La Tolteca Mexican Restaurant of Belair opened a second location.
“The possibilities of that space are limitless,” Brownstein says, saying they’ll do some minor renovations, including moving tables and rearranging some booths. He declined to discuss the cost of the renovation.
Brownstein says they will hire 25 additional workers to their existing 15-person staff.  The restaurant will retain much of its menu.
“We’ll continue to make all our pastas, breads, meatballs from scratch as we’ve been doing for the past 20 years.”
Although currently in a cramped, strip mall location, Fazzini’s draws customers from beyond the immediate neighborhood.
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Ari Brownstein, Fazzini’s owner 

Myth & Moonshine owners eyeing second location in Fells

The owners of Canton’s Myth & Moonshine are expanding, with plans to open a second bar in Fells Point and an upstairs dive bar at its current location.
Owners Shanna Cooper and fiancé Jake Millisock are negotiating their lease in Fells and expect it to open by May, Cooper says. Called Myth II Moonshine, Cooper describes the new business as a “corner satellite dive bar.”
The year-old Canton bar specializes in Cajun food and, of course, various types of moonshine. Cooper couldn’t divulge the Fells location yet as the owners are still in negotiations.
“We think it’s going to be great for people who want some late food that’s not pizza.”
The Fells Point bar will serve many of the same appetizers, sandwiches and desserts as the existing restaurant. It will also serve loaded baked potatoes and hotdogs, similar to what it has in store for Canton.
By Valentine’s Day, the second floor of Myth and Moonshine will house a dive bar featuring a hot dog and baked potato station with 30 toppings. It will offer the usual condiments, plus more unusual ones like gumbo or ham and cheese. Toppings will cost 50 cents each and a loaded hot dog or baked potato will run between $4 and $8. Cooper says she hopes the hot dog and baked potato bar will help it attract a lunch crowd.
Cooper describes the upstairs as a “rustic moonshine shack,” with industrial piping and four fireplaces. “It’s almost like hanging out in a basement of a house.”
The restaurant carries 75 types of moonshine and will up that number to about 100 by the end of February. Its menu items include shrimp and grits, jambalaya, ribs and deviled eggs. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Shanna Cooper

Farmstead Grill owners target May opening in Canton Crossing

Canton Crossing’s new farm-to-table restaurant Farmstead Grill and its companion kiosk Farmstead Shack will likely open in May, Executive Chef and Chief Operating Officer Galen Sampson says.
Selling takeaway items, Farmstead Shack will open later than the 200-seat restaurant. Sampson says it will be sometime after Mother's Day.
The venture is led by Charles Nasbit, the owner of the two-year-old Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point. The restaurant and shack will rely on local farms for its meat and produce and aims to serve “creative, chef-driven cuisines” at a lower price point, says Sampson, the former chef and owner of the Dogwood in Hampden.
Entrees will cost between $16 and $25. Diners wanting to spend less can get small plates, salads and appetizers for under $16, Sampson says.
Architect Brown Craig Turner Inc. has designed the casual fine dining restaurant like a barn with exposed wooden beams lots of light and an all-glass front. It looks out over a park, across from Farmstead Shack.
The restaurant and kiosk will join Target, Michael’s, Mission BBQ, Samos and a slew of other shops and restaurants at the Canton development. A Harris Teeter will join Canton Crossing later this year. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Galen Sampson

Patisserie Poupon owner opening second Baltimore location downtown

Well you can forget your New Year’s diet resolutions if you live or work in downtown Baltimore.

The owner of Jonestown’s Patisserie Poupon is opening a new café about a mile away from his original location at the end of this month. The original Patisserie, specializing in French cakes and pastries, is retail only, with no seating. The new Café Poupon at 225 N. Charles St. will feature a full menu.

Owner Joseph Poupon says the café will feature breakfast pastries, a variety of coffees, and classic French salads and dishes such as quiche.

The 1,300-square-foot space is street level and adjacent to the  Grand Historic Venue property. Poupon has a ten-year lease from the Embassy Suites Baltimore – Inner Harbor, which runs the Grand Historic Venue. In 2006, the 45,000-square-foot event space, a former Masonic Lodge, underwent a $27 million renovation.

Poupon is only making minor upgrades to the kitchen. The space, previously the Grand Café, already features high ceilings, marble floors, and French lithographs on the walls. There is terrace seating in the summer. “I want to have a nice pastry shop. It’s a beautiful space,” he says.

Poupon is in the process of hiring a chef, baristas, and other employees, about a dozen people in all.

Poupon has bakeries in Washington, D.C., and in Baltimore at 820 E. Baltimore St, near the Shot Tower. The Baltimore location opened in 1986.

Poupon says he has no further expansion plans.

Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Joseph Poupon, owner, Café Poupon.

Vivo Trattoria & Wine Bar opens near Arundel Mills

A new Italian restaurant and wine bar opened last month at the $150 million Arundel Preserve complex near Arundel Mills mall.

The 165-seat Vivo Trattoria Wine Bar serves homemade pasta, artisanal pizza made in a wood-fired oven and 100 to 150 bottles of wine, says General Manager Matthew Santeramo. The restaurant, designed as a Tuscan-style trattoria and enoteca, seats about 60 on the patio and serves 25 wines by the glass. This month, Vivo started offering lunch Monday through Friday. 

Vivo is located inside the Hotel at Arundel Preserve, just on the opposite side of the hotel as the two-year-old Grillfire Arundel restaurant. George Martin owns both restaurants.

“The owner felt there wasn’t enough Italian in the area. There wasn’t much to choose from,” Santeramo says.

Menu items include a crab imperial pizza; brick-oven fired chicken and pasta bolognese. Appetizers and salads start at $8; pizzas, pastas and entrees will start between $12-$17. 
Vivo will be slightly smaller than Grillfire and sport the look of cozy, rustic farmhouse. The restaurant will employ 40 to 50.

Arundel Preserve is an office, residential and retail complex a stone’s throw from Arundel Mills. Maryland Live Casino, which features table games and slots, debuted at the mall last year. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Matthew Santeramo, Grillfire Arundel

Belgian brasserie De Kleine Duivel opens in Hampden

A Belgian brasserie opened Friday in a former social club of the Improved Order of Red Men Lodge at 3602 Hickory Ave. in Hampden.

De Kleine Duivel, which means “little devil” in Flemish, is just serving beer, wine, spirits, and small plates, such as paté, charcuterie, and cheese from the Green Onion Market in Hamilton. But the space has a full kitchen, which Owner Paul Kopchinski says he expects to open by late January. He will also offer live music in the coming months.

The 1,500-square-foot room seats about 15 at the bar and close to 50 at tables. The showpiece of the Art Nouveau-style space is the custom 40-foot-long bar made by a cabinetmaker and childhood friend of Kopchinski’s. 

Right now it’s just Kopchinski and one other employee manning the bar. He says he expects to hire about five servers when the kitchen opens.

Kopchinski plans to apply for an entertainment license so bands can play on the restaurant’s stage a few nights a month. “Nothing loud. Eclectic, acoustic music that would fit in with the theme and the atmosphere."

Kopchinski has been planning on opening his Belgian-themed brasserie since 2010. Two previous locations didn’t work out, and he ended up at the former lodge.

Kopchinski’s mom’s side of the family is Flemish and he still has family in Belgium, and he travels there often. De Kleine Duivel, “little devil,” is what his grandmother used to call him when he was a kid.
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Paul Kopchinski, owner De Kleine Duivel

Red Emma's to serve dinner next month in new Station North spot

Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse plans to serve a full dinner menu next month at its new Station North location.

The store opened Nov. 20 at its new location at 30 W. North Ave., where it roasts its own coffee beans from Thread Coffee on site. It initially offered baked goods and expanded its cafe menu Dec. 5 to include sandwiches, soups and salads. The nine-year-old radical bookstore and coffeehouse announced its move from Mount Vernon late last year. 
Previously occupied by Cyclops Books, the new space is 4,600 square feet, nearly six times the size of its 800-square-foot spot on Saint Paul Street.
“In the old space, one of the problems that we had was that all the space we had was what you saw,” Khatib says.
Now the coffeehouse has designated space for storage, a kitchen, an office and bathrooms. 
The vegetarian menu will be expanded to include kale, potato wedges and vegan mac and cheese. It will continue to serve soups and sandwiches during the day. 
Red Emma’s is a co-op and will add more collective-owners to its staff. While the business does not hire new workers, it does bring people into the project as worker-owners, people who are interested in investing in the project long-term.
“The members that we have right now are not enough to fill all of the shifts that we’re going to need so we will be looking to add new folks to the co-op,” Khatib says.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Kate Khatib, Red Emma's 

French restaurant opens at the Lord Baltimore Hotel

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is hoping to appeal to lovers of fine art and fine French cuisine with its new restaurant that opened Dec. 3.

The owners of the downtown Baltimore hotel have renovated the hotel's former Versailles Room into the 100-seat French Kitchen

Miami-based Rubell Hotels purchased the Lord Baltimore at 20 W. Baltimore St. for $10 million in March and dropped the Radisson flag. It is currently renovating the entire 440-room hotel and expects to wrap up the work in April. The hotel will remain open during the multimillion-dollar renovation. 

Menu items at the French Kitchen include french onion soup, cured salmon, steak frites and beef tartar. 

The owners had wanted to name it Matisse Kitchen & Tavern, but a conflict came up with the name, Co-owner Mera Rubell says. The original name celebrated the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Wealthy Baltimore socialites Claribel and Etta Cone assembled a massive art collection during the Gilded Age, including 500 works by Henri Matisse. In 1949, the collection was bequeathed to the BMA.

“We really want to celebrate the local,” Rubell says.  “Our design was very much inspired by Matisse, his sense of color, his sense of food. He is a major, important figure because of his extraordinary paintings.”

Constructed in 1928, the Lord Baltimore was once one of the city’s grand hotels, and the scene of countless weddings and other social events.

The Lord Baltimore has a grand ballroom, meeting space, two terraces, and penthouse accommodations.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Mera Rubell, co-owner, The Lord Baltimore

New Mount Vernon cafe to sell espresso, yoga mats and vinyl records

A new coffee shop is coming soon to the Mount Vernon neighborhood and plans to serve more than coffee and pastries.
NuBohemia, which bills itself as a modern bohemian cafe, will sell jewelry, yoga gear and vinyl records when it opens at 42 W. Biddle St. in about a month.
Owner John Johnson says the coffee shop will serve espresso and espresso-based drinks, drip coffee, hot and iced tea, and smoothies.

“We want to be a destination for folks, a place people will want to come and enjoy each other’s company,” Johnson says.
The shop has partnered with a local Maryland record store to sell vinyl in the shop. NuBohemia hopes to appeal to the young artists and college students who live in the area.
The 1000-square-foot space is located just a block and a half from the 1200 block of Charles Street, an area that Johnson says believes is the “hottest area of the city.” The block is home to a growing cluster of shops and restaurants, including Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Starbucks, Tutti Frutti, TriBeCa Coffee Roasters, Oooh So Sweet bakery and Pet Valu. The area has attracted more businesses as its student population has grown with the expansion of the University of Baltimore
“We wanted to open as close to this block as possible,” Johnson says.
Johnson came across this location while working in the events promotion field.
“We started doing events for 10 years and actually got away from wanting to open the coffee shop,” he says. “But now that things have settled down, we’re back to wanting to open the brick and mortar of the coffee shop.”
Johnson says the shop will be open Thursday through Sunday for the first year, and will then expand its hours to seven days a week thereafter.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: John Johnson

Ryleigh's Oyster opens new Timonium location

The owner of Ryleigh’s Oyster House opened his second location in Timonium this month after investing $2 million to transform the former Gibby's Seafood spot into the 300-seat restaurant.

The 10,000-square-foot location at 22 W. Padonia Road has a 2,000-square-foot rooftop herb garden available for private dining, and a patio.

“There was never any curb appeal,” Ryleigh’s Owner Brian McComas says of the former location. “So we definitely made it ‘shore house chic’ and rebuilt the whole front section of the building.”

The original Ryleigh’s is a Federal Hill stalwart, featuring over 100 different kinds of oysters in the course of a year. The new Timonium outpost will have a similar menu, with a few tweaks for the suburban dining scene, focusing a little more on traditional entrees, and a little less on shared or communal plates.

As in Federal Hill, the oysters play a starring role. In partnership with the Shooting Point Oyster Company, Ryleigh’s grows its own farm-raised oysters called Avery’s Pearls on Virginia’s Eastern shore. McComas says these smaller oysters are good for bivalve beginners.

“In order to address the people who think an oyster’s this big slimy thing, we cultivate our own," McComas says. Avery’s Oysters are small, petite, cocktail oysters, so that you don’t get this big hunk of slimy stuff.”

McComas recently held the Moet Oyster Ball Oct. 9 at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill. The $65 tickets included an oyster bar, open bar and hors d’oeuvres. The event kicked off OysterFest Oct 12-13. The Cross Street festival featured the annual Baltimore Oyster Shucking Competition, as well as live music and raw bars. Proceeds for both benefited the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Scotti Offutt and Brian McComas, Ryleigh's Oyster 

Brookshire Suites new lobby lounge to feature local food and wine

The Inner Harbor’s Brookshire Suites hotel will feature Baltimore beers and wines in its new lobby lounge when it opens in January.The yet unnamed lounge is part of the Brookshire’s $3 million property-wide renovation.

The 100-seat lounge will likely serve coffee during the day and transition to beer and wine around 4 p.m., says Brookshire General Manager Jason Curtis. He expects to hire four full-time staffers for the lounge.

“Our hotel is going to be very Baltimore specific, we’re trying to provide our guests with a very unique experience in Baltimore,” Curtis says. The hotel hasn’t decided which brands of local beer and wines it will serve.

The 97-suite hotel, at 120 E Lombard St., lost its liquor license three years ago when the property went into receivership. Baltimore City’s liquor board approved its new liquor license Nov. 14. Modus Hotels in Washington, D.C., now owns the property.

Renovations to the club level, meeting room and exercise room have been completed. Work is currently underway on the lobby, registration desk and on the lounge, after which work on the guest rooms will begin.

The Brookshire is positioning itself as an “urban playground” with its renovations. It's the latest Baltimore property attempting to rebrand itself amidst more competition. The Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys is undergoing a $6 million facelift and is soon debuting a new contemporary Italian restaurant Scoozi. The Lord Baltimore Hotel on West Baltimore Street is undergoing a renovation and opening its new Matisse Kitchen and Tavern later this month.

“Our goal is to be fun and creative and do something that no one else in the Inner Harbor is doing,” Curtis says.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Brookshire Suites Hotel

Persian restaurant opening in the former Stoneleigh Bakery spot in Towson

A Persian restaurant is taking the place of the former Stoneleigh Bakery Cafe in Towson.

Villagio Café is opening Dec. 1 at 6805 York Road in the Stoneleigh neighborhood. Serving grilled kabob, lamb, salmon, basmati rice, hummus, baba ghanoush and Greek salad, Villagio will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Owner Foad Borhani is renovating the 1,800-square-foot space to seat 40 and another 10 on the sidewalk. He says he hasn’t set the menu yet.

Borhani was a restaurateur in Phoenix, Arizona, where he previously lived. He moved to Baltimore about a year ago to be closer to family. Borhani says Villagio will be very casual, with comfy booths for eating in, and take out service available. The restaurant will employ four.

The Stoneleigh neighborhood is a quaint historic district that was first developed in the 1920’s. The storefronts lining York Road are nearly all independently owned shops, including Uncle Wiggly’s Ice Cream, Mandarin Taste, Gennuso’s Barber Shop, and Stoneleigh Duckpin Lanes. 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source, Foad Borhani, owner, Villagio Café

Cunningham's restaurant opens in Towson

The highly anticipated Cunningham’s restaurant at the Towson City Center building made its debut Nov. 22 with a cafe soon to follow.

The 10,000-square-foot restaurant employs 80, Bagby Restaurant Group Director of Marketing Dave Seel says. Cunningham Café will open early 2014.

Specializing in local, sustainable and seasonal cuisine, Cunningham’s relies on produce from Bagby Group Owner David Smith’s Cunningham Farms in Cockeysville. 

Billed as a sophisticated take on mid-Atlantic cuisine, Cunningham's will serve wood-fired flatbreads, grilled seafood and dry-aged steaks. Executive Chef Chris Allen recreates flavors that tap into his childhood in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Ryan Shacochis, formerly of the Wine Market, has been brought on as the restaurant’s general manager. 

The 260-seat restaurant consists of three dining areas, including a bar and a private dining space. The patio will seat another 80 during the warmer months. The modern decor includes big yellow lights that ador the ceiling and a lighted marble bar.

Cunningham Café, a 2,000-square-foot café and bakery on the ground level just under the main restaurant, will feature locally sourced ingredients for breakfast and lunch, fair trade coffee, artisanal bread and pastries. The café will seat 40 indoors and another 20 outside.  

Though Towson has lots of fairly casual places serving office workers, students, and the community, Seel says he believes Cunningham’s will fill a gap in terms of destination dining.

“There’s a huge need for new restaurants, different types of restaurants up there,” he says.
Cunningham’s will be the Bagby Restaurant Group’s fourth restaurant. The others are Bagby Pizza Co., Ten Ten and Fleet Street Kitchen, which are all located in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Dave Seel, Bagby Retaurant Group.

Nickel Taphouse opens in Mount Washington

About a year after opening his popular artisan pizza joint Birroteca, Robbin Haas has tackled his next restaurant venture in Mount Washington.

The Nickel Taphouse opened Nov. 20 in the former Blue Sage Café and Wine Bar space at 1604 Kelly Ave.

The 100-seat restaurant serves grilled oysters, mussels, burgers and roast beef served on kimmelweck rolls, topped with sea salt and caraway seeds. The sandwich is a specialty in Haas’ native Buffalo, N.Y. The restaurant also serves 32 craft beers on draft and about 50 wines. Menu items cost between $5 and $19. 

The 4,000-square-foot Nickel Taphouse is inspired by the places Haas used to frequent in his working class neighborhood. “They had great food and a lively bar crowd. These are places to hang out and stop in everyday.”

Haas, who is leasing the space, says he wasn’t looking to expand but a good business opportunity came along. He declined to say how much he spendt on the business.

“I like Mount Washington. I think there’s an opportunity for another restaurant there. I like it because it’s homey, it has a wide diversity of people. It has a great vibe to it.”

Located in the Jones Falls area, Birroteca serves pasta, calamari and other modern Italian fare. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Robbin Haas, Birroteca
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