FeBREWary, the monthlong celebration of all things Maryland beer, kicks off on Tuesday.

It might be cold outside, but late January is prime time for restaurants in Baltimore. With Restaurant Week upon us, among other things, it’s a fun food season. Here’s a look at what’s happening this week:

Openings & announcements
Ministry of Brewing celebrated two years in business last week. Congratulations to the team there, which has navigated two years of pandemic operations with aplomb.

Alma Cocina Latina has a new pastry chef: Maria Alejandra Cobarrubio. Chef Cobarrubio has just arrived from Venezuela; the Alma team has been working to help her arrive in the U.S. since last May.

La Scala’s Chesley Patterson
On Monday, the owners of La Scala announced that longtime manager, Chesley Patterson, was killed the night before. Patterson was beloved by the restaurant community and by La Scala’s many dedicated patrons, who remember him as a kind and welcoming part of the restaurant.

Several hundred mourners gathered outside the restaurant on Wednesday, for a vigil honoring his life, which has left much of the community, both in and outside of Little Italy, reeling.

Restaurant Week begins
Baltimore Restaurant Week starts Friday and runs all week long, which means this week is prime time to get out and try someplace new (or revisit old favorites). Tons of local spots are participating this year, offering $25, $35 and $45 prix fixe menus, which are available to review before you go.

Though COVID stats are heading in the right direction, restaurants are still grappling with the effects of the pandemic, so it does make sense to check in with any place you’re planning to visit – reservations are always a good idea. Given the current COVID situation, some restaurants are also extending RW specials to carryout, giving those who don’t feel comfortable with in-person dining right now an opportunity to enjoy the specials at home.

Tuesday is Feb. 1, which means the official start to Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month and FeBREWary – as it is dubbed by the Brewers Association of Maryland – the state’s monthlong celebration of local beers.

During the month, local breweries host numerous beers and release new brews. Up to date information can be found on individual breweries’ social media and on the association website. 

Chinese New Year at The Corner Pantry
On Tuesday, The Corner Pantry brings back its annual Chinese New Year celebration, this year, honoring the Year of the Tiger. Throughout the day, Corner Pantry will offer a special menu featuring beverage and pastry specials inspired by the holiday.

Homemade pasta season
With spring still a couple months away and temperatures low, restaurant menus are heavy on the comfort food – including dishes featuring homemade pasta.

At Thames Street Oyster House, homemade bucatini is paired with grilled tuna, artichoke hearts, bell peppers and Marseillaise fish broth – a little nod to warm weather favorites.

La Cuchara’s menu includes hand-cut, charred noodles, currently paired with black trumpet mushrooms, butternut squash, basil and Manchego.

The Hersh’s menu also leans on butternut squash but in a different way, with handmade butternut squash gnocchi that looks gorgeous.

In Hampden, Grano Pasta Bar is always an excellent spot for homemade pasta and sauces. 

Café Gia’s cappelletti filled with taleggio are both adorable – cute little dumplings – and hearty, served in a mushroom Marsala sauce.

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for:
Feb. 6: Small Batch BBQ Pop-Up at Chuck’s Trading Post 
Feb. 12: How Does It Feel Dinner with H3irloom Food Group 
Feb. 18: Anniversary Party at Ampersea 

Kit Waskom Pollard is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributing writer. She writes Hot Plate every Friday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.