Monday, March 24, 2014

Scoozi Restaurant, Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys

Last fall, the Minx and I went to a media dinner to preview the new restaurant in the Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys. The new place was called Scoozi and, as the name suggested, the menu would have an Italian emphasis. The dishes we tasted showed real promise and we vowed to come back as soon as it opened. Flash forward several months and, although the restaurant had been opened for some time, we still had not gone back. The oversight was even more egregious since we live only 10 minutes away. We finally resolved to return, this time with Minx's brother and father in tow so we could sample a variety of dishes.

The atmosphere felt a bit chaotic when we arrived. Part of that could be explained by the fact that it was a Saturday night, but we later learned that they were short on wait staff. Nevertheless, we were seated promptly and our waitress happily took our drink orders. She also dropped off the bread, which turned out to be strips of pizza dough nicely charred by the pizza oven. She then took our food order and disappeared.

Nothing happened for about 10 minutes. Our drinks had not arrived even though we had all ordered beers (no complicated cocktail alchemy involved). We drank our water and nibbled on the bread (which was quite good, btw), wishing for something stronger with which to wash it down. After the wait, a server arrived with the appetizers at the same moment that the bartender arrived with our beers. Each server elbowed the other in an attempt to get his respective items on our table. It didn't help that there was too much stuff on the table already, like an oversized candle and a foot-high salt-and-pepper shaker. We reared back in fear of being splashed with beer or tomato sauce or both. Once that crazy moment of awkwardness was over, we settled into tasting the food.

Point Judith Calamari - pomodoro and roasted garlic-caper aioli
At first glance, the calamari appeared hopelessly burnt. If you go much beyond a quick deep fry, the calamari can turn to rubberbands, but we were relieved to discover that they were still tender in spite of the extra crispy coating. The dish has both a pomodoro and roasted garlic-caper aioli dipping sauce. I preferred the pomodoro sauce as the aioli was a bit too thick in which to dip the calamari properly.

Veal Meatballs, white bean puree, whipped basil ricotta, tomato sauce
We had tried the veal meatballs at the preview dinner and the recipe had not changed. They were tender and garlicky with a bright tomato sauce and whipped ricotta on top. I could eat an entree portion of these meatballs.

Scampi -Shrimp, rose sauce,‎ grilled fennel and a pinch of hot pepper
Next came the pizzas. The crust has the kind of texture I prefer: crusty and slightly charred on the surface, but thin and pliable like New York style pizza. The shrimp scampi pizza was my favorite of the two since I'm a sucker for shrimp and the fennel brought a nice crunch. Fennel also marries well with tomatoes.

Kennett Square - local wild mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, garlic-herb-ricotta cream, white truffle oil
The Kennett Square pizza got the Minx's vote. While not ordinarily a fan of grainy ricotta cheese dolloped on pizza, she loved this. The smooth ricotta was nicely seasoned, and the combination of wild mushrooms and just enough white truffle oil brought out an earthiness that balanced nicely with the sweet flavor of the caramelized onions.

Cheese ravioli with olives and capers, served over ravioli topped with regiano frico
For the entrees, we chose the ravioli and the short ribs. The ravioli was tender and the sauce was a zingy concoction of chunky tomatoes, olives, and capers. Overall, quite satisfying.

Chianti Braised Short Ribs - Crispy parmesan risotto cake and sweet potato ribbons
The short ribs were also very good, with an nice wine-tinged flavor. The risotto, while more of a rice dish in a runny sauce than a true risotto, was still a fine accompaniment. I'm not sure it was worth the $27 price tag, however, given that the piece of short rib was more like an appetizer portion. Probably better to stick with the appetizers and pizzas if you're looking for optimum bang for your buck.

I think Scoozi still has some wrinkles to iron out, but there is certainly a commitment to the food. The service was clunky (there was a comedy of errors over a request for more bread that's too long to go into), but it could have been a bad night or some growing pains. I'm sure we will go back again, if only to savor those meatballs and pizza again.

5100 Falls Rd
Baltimore, MD 21210
Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys

Scoozi on Urbanspoon

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on