Food & Drink

Restaurant Review: Even with service hiccups, Station North hotspot Orto deserves its popularity


Orto is hot right now, and with good reason.

The Station North restaurant isn’t perfect; during a Saturday night visit about two months after it opened, we experienced some service hiccups. But even with room to improve, Orto is very good.

Orto, which opened in February, is the baby of Elan Kotz, whose previous restaurant experience includes opening The Food Market with Chad Gauss back in 2012. Kotz is a front-of-house and behind-the-scenes guy; Orto’s kitchen is helmed by Chef Stefano Porcile, who has recently cooked at erstwhile Station North favorites Colette and Bottega.

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population sees big gains

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Just as Marylanders prepare to steam them up and eat them by the bushel, blue crabs are on the rise in the Chesapeake Bay, according to an annual population report.

Scientists from Maryland and Virginia estimate there are 594 million crabs in the estuary, up from 371 million when they conducted a count last year.

Prime Corner bodega in Hampden will close at end of May

Image via Facebook.

Prime Corner, the Hampden bodega carrying upscale and locally made food and essentials, will close at the end of May, the business posted on Facebook.

“I’m just in awe thinking of how many new friends / sweet popups / pints of Taharka there have been in such a short time,” owner Tess Russell posted on Facebook. “Bodegas are defined by their communities as much as their snacks and we’ve had so much fun being yours.”

Hot Plate: Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby weekend, Sunday wine festivals, meet the neighbors at Gunther & Co. and more

Vida Taco Bar in Harbor Point will kick off Cinco de Mayo celebrations a day early on Saturday with an outdoor party.

With gorgeous weather on the horizon, the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo in our sights and some happy news on the restaurant front, this week is a good one for the Baltimore dining scene. Here’s a look at what’s been happening and what to expect:

The Elephant’s operators avoid auction and closure with bankruptcy plan

Photo via The Elephant/Facebook

With the auction of its historic home base now called off, the operators of Mount Vernon’s The Elephant restaurant say their business is safe and can remain open after all.

Bluebird Cocktail Room’s new Hampden pub, The Pub, to open next Friday

The outside of The Pub, beneath De Kleine Duivel and Bluebird Cocktail Room. Photo by Ethan McLeod.

Hampden’s upscale Bluebird Cocktail Room is ready to pull back the curtain on its lower-level concept, with plans to open on Friday, May 10.

Natty Boh launches light beer, adopts new ‘Live Pleasantly’ mantra

Image courtesy of National Bohemian.

Seeking a new brew for “life’s bright and breezy everyday moments,” National Bohemian today launched Day Beer, a lower-calorie, lower-alcohol content take on its beloved lager.

Per a release, “Day Beer offers today’s health-conscious drinkers a casual way to stay connected to their busy schedule while not sacrificing their social lives.”

New farmers’ market coming to Federal Hill outside renovated Cross Street Market

Photo via Cross Street Market/Facebook

The modernized Cross Street Market is bringing an open-air market back to Cross Street, albeit with an expectedly more artisan vibe than its mid-1800s predecessor.

Hot Plate: Bluegrass and brews in Mt. Airy and Baltimore, Champagne at The A.B., Clavel at Union and more

This weekend is a great one for food-friendly festivals, including the Bluegrass, Brew & BBQ Festival at Red Shedman Farm in Mt. Airy.

This week is a fun one in Baltimore, with tons of food-friendly festivals and special events celebrating beer, champagne and, of course, a lot of food. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

Fed Hill’s Cross Street Market to add a vegan stall, cocktail bar and pizza

Photo via Cross Street Market/Facebook

The overhauled Cross Street Market has a few new vendors on its roster, including a plant-based food stall called Gangster Vegan Organics, a bar from Highlandtown distillery Old Line Spirits and a fixed stall for traveling pizza purveyor Pizza di Joey.