Not sure if anyone knows, but I've been writing a restaurant column for the City Walker App Blog. The purpose of the app itself is to give visitors a local's-eye-view of a city, so they are able to experience it in the same way residents do--on foot. (Not that anyone actually walks anywhere anymore.) The blog offers a bit more detail; I have endeavored to take users on a stroll through the city while pointing out restaurants along the way. In addition to the walking posts, I have been writing others that put certain favorite restaurants of mine in a spotlight. I thought I could share those here with you.
The brick building at the corner of President and Fleet Streets--currently home to the Baltimore Civil War Museum--has seen a lot of action over the years. Originally a train station, it was involved in the Baltimore Riot of 1861, a skirmish that produced the first casualties of the Civil War. President Street Station was also the terminus for scores of Italian immigrants who had originally entered the U.S. through Ellis Island in New York and took the train to Baltimore. They came from all over Italy--from Genoa and Naples on the mainland, Palermo and Cefalu in Sicily--and many settled down virtually at the station’s doorstep in the neighborhood that became known as Little Italy.
The chef at Cafe Gia is Gianfranco Fracassetti. Gian, who hails from Lombardy in the northwest of Italy, worked for a few Baltimore restaurants before ending up at Cafe Gia in 2009. After eight years there, he’s a member of the family. Literally, as he and Gia are married and have added a fourth generation to their Little Italy legacy. Chef Fracassetti’s specialty is homemade stuffed pastas, but he’s no slouch when it comes to anything else on the menu. On a recent visit, hubs and I were able to sit outside on their shaded second floor deck and enjoy the pleasant sunny weather without actually coming in contact with the sun. We ordered a special that evening, a flavorful tuna tartare with the crunch of fresh white corn and a healthy dose of garlic from the pesto aioli that bound it together. We also enjoyed a beet salad, which is not to say a green salad with a few token beets on top, but a great mound of tender cubed red barbabietole (a fun word pronounced “barh bah BYIH toh leh”) in the lightest of dressings, with a lacy garnish of finely shaved fresh fennel. I was intrigued by a pork shank braised with beer (a Flying Dog IPA) and peaches accompanied by a risotto with walnuts and broccolini. It was a dish that managed to be both rustic and elegant in all its many flavors and textures, from the porky depth of the man’s-fist-sized shank and the light sweetness of the rich sauce, to the perfectly cooked rice with vaguely asparagus-like broccolini and crunchy nuts. I loved it. My husband went classic; his order of tender veal saltimbocca had a pronounced sage flavor and just the right amount of cheese. It came with sides of roasted multicolored potatoes and green beans slicked with olive oil. A cannoli for dessert (though we were sorely tempted by Giovanna’s delicious tiramisu) and glasses of Sangiovese rounded out our meal.
410 S High Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Posted on Minxeats.com.