Pit beef to pasta shops, this week is a big one in Baltimore restaurant news and events. Here’s a look at what’s happening in Charm City’s culinary scene:
Openings & announcements
The big – and sad – news this week comes from Fells Point. Bertha’s Mussels announced this week that it will close at the end of the year and that the business will go up for auction on Nov. 15 (via Alex Cooper). The restaurant/bar is a Fells Point icon; it has been a mainstay of the neighborhood for 50 years and will be sorely missed.
There is some hopeful news this week, though. Downtown, the owners of Allora have a new project: a restaurant to open in the old Alexander Brown space. The new concept, Zander’s, will serve lunch and dinner, and will take advantage of the gorgeous space; according to the Baltimore Business Journal, the new owners were able to purchase everything from the former restaurant, down to the silverware.
Charley’s Waterfront, a new spot on Sue Creek in Essex, is now open and ready for diners.
Melanie Molinaro, co-owner of Little Fig Bake Shop and Plantry Goods, and part of the team behind restaurants like Birroteca and Stall 11 in R. House, has been named the new manager of Groundwork Kitchen, the restaurant associated with the nonprofit Paul’s Place in Pigtown.
In Little Italy, the Casa di Pasta storefront is about to undergo a major renovation. As a result, for a little while, the shop will accept call-in orders only. The plan is to have the remodel finished before Thanksgiving.
Good news from Dole
Dole Sunshine Company – the people behind the pineapples, among other things – has partnered with The Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore and Bmore Community Food as part of its Sunshine for All Cities program, which aims to educate and support underserved populations and address food inequity.
Through the program, Dole is offering food boxes with enough ingredients to feed a family of three for a week. The boxes will be distributed for free at the Boys & Girls club Fall Festival, ending Friday, Oct. 21, and after the festival, they will be available for purchase through the Boys & Girls Club for just $10.
Dole is also sponsoring cooking classes lead by Chef Shannon from Black Girls Cook, a local nonprofit that helps educate and inspire young women via cooking and urban farming. The classes also take place through the Boys & Girls Club.
Smoothie lovers take note: the juice bar franchise Pure Green opens a new storefront in Charles Village, near Hopkins, on Friday, Oct. 21. To welcome the community, Pure Green is offering buy one, get one free smoothies all day.
Shuckin’ in the Street XIII
Lee’s Pint & Shell’s Shuckin’ in the Street event is back on Saturday, starting at noon. The outdoor party will feature live music and a DJ, plus tons of oysters on the half shell.
OktoBEARfest is back
On Saturday and Sunday, the Maryland Zoo will be roaring during OktoBEARfest, its annual fall beer festival. The party includes food, artisans and over 50 different seasonal beers and ciders, including options from local favorites like Brewer’s Art, Baltimore-Washington Beer Works, Charm City Meadworks, DuClaw, Flying Dog, Key Brewing and Monument City Brewing.
Sisters Who Can Burn
Also on Saturday, local Black women chefs will take over the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center for Sisters Who Can Burn, a tasting event and fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and prevention. The event also includes a DJ and vendors to shop.
Passport to Peru
On Sunday afternoon, The Manor Tavern hosts the 2022 Passport to Peru Gala, an event raising funds for the Hope for Morrope Foundation.
The event includes dishes from 10 local chefs, including both local classics (Maryland crab soup) to Peruvian favorites, like ceviche. There will also be music, dance performances and an auction.
The 15th annual Harbor Harvest Children’s Fall Festival takes place at Rash Field Park on Sunday. The family-friendly event is full of fun stuff for kids, from pony rides and petting zoo animals to stilt walkers from Baltimore Hoop Love. Plus, there’s tons of local food, including treats from Lattimore’s Funnel Cakes, Dogs on the Curb, Black Acres Roastery, Sourced by Adrien, and Bullhead Pit Beef.
Friday and Saturday nights, downtown Baltimore will get spooky with outdoor screenings of “Hocus Pocus” (Friday) and the animated version of “The Addams Family” (Saturday). The movies, which are presented by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, will be shown in One Center Plaza.
Guests can bring their own treats – and leashed pets – and there will be beer, wine and snacks like cotton candy and popcorn available for purchase.
Baltimore Pit Beef Festival
On Sunday afternoon, head to Port Covington for the first annual Baltimore Pit Beef Festival. The festival, which kicks off at noon, will include tons of pit beef, including some cooked over charcoal and some cooked over hardwood, plus other classic Maryland food and drink, like oysters, crushes and sno balls.
Hogwarts at Johnny’s
Starting Monday, Johnny’s will transform into a spooky world of wizardry. In honor of Halloween, the Roland Park restaurant becomes Hogwarts, complete with decorations and a lineup of Harry Potter-inspired drinks and dishes. The spectacle lasts through Halloween night.
Fear Factory is back
Starting Oct. 28, The Charmery’s annual Fear Factor event is back for Halloween. The ice cream shop’s Union Collective factory location will transform for the holiday, with decorations and a lineup of flavors that – while still tasty – are not your average ice cream.
This year’s flavors are inspired by a “Halloween picnic in the park” and include everything from an ode to the classic tomato and mayo sandwich to a celery and peanut butter “ants on a log” flavor. Spooky!
Giving back with Old Line Spirits
From now through the end of the year, Old Line Spirits will donate $5 from the purchase of any bottle of their American Single Malt Whiskey or American Single Malt Whiskey Cask Strength to support a military-related organization. The company, which is veteran-owned, will donate to Fisher House, an organization that assists military families by providing cost-free comfort housing they can use while their loved ones receive medical care.*
The donations are in honor of Veteran’s Day and support great work happening to support veterans and their families both locally and on a national scale.
Old Line Plate on the page
In case you missed it, the incomparable Maryland food history blog, Old Line Plate, is now a book. Blogger Kara Mae Harris has turned some of her most interesting posts into a hardcover book available for purchase online (and available to borrow via the Enoch Pratt Free Library). The book is terrific – a real treat for anyone interested in culinary history and Chesapeake foodways.
Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for:
Nov. 2: Día de los Muertos at Maxímon
Nov. 5: Oyfest at Union Craft Brewing
*Note: An earlier version of this column inaccurately identified the organization benefiting from Old Line Spirits’ donation.