Welcome to CBM Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide, where we introduce to you the many restaurants that help keep Bay Weekly coming to you thanks to their support. Most are locally owned, and all are in our neighborhoods. After a tough year, restaurants are counting down the days to warmer weather, open dock bars and patio dining. So dive in and feast on fine dining, creative carryout and all-around good eating—and bring your appetite!
By Krista Pfunder & Kathy Knotts
Annapolis Restaurant Week Returns
(and the Last Hurrah of OysterFest)
Annapolis Restaurant Week is back this month—a welcome return to a pre-pandemic favorite. And there’s one more weekend left to enjoy another Annapolis foodie celebration: the first-ever Annapolis OysterFest, still going on until March 21.
Since March 1, two dozen Annapolis-area restaurants have been preparing oysters every which way. You can slurp them down and share on social media for a chance to win a dozen. Take a picture with oysters and post it to Facebook or Instagram tagging #AnnapolisOysterFest. Eastern Shore Brewing is joining in the oyster love with beer specials at participating restaurants. Details and participating locations at: www.AnnapolisOysterFest.com
Beginning Saturday, March 20, Annapolis restaurants come together to serve up the best of the city’s food and drink scene with the ever-popular Restaurant Week.
This year’s event, sponsored by the Downtown Annapolis Partnership (DAP) and Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, runs through Sunday March 28. Restaurants in both downtown Annapolis and the greater Annapolis area will offer two- and three-course, price-fixed meal selections. It’s a taste of the area’s most popular restaurants, with a smaller bill to pay. Nearly 40 establishments, including several new participants, are offering menus for the 13th annual event.
According to DAP Executive Director and event organizer Erik Evans, “This year, it’s all about being flexible so as many people as possible can safely enjoy the wide variety of dining options Annapolis has to offer.” Foodies will get to choose from a larger selection of specially created menus, take advantage of carryout bargains, purchase cocktails to go, and/or plan for future dining experiences via online gift cards.
Participating restaurants will offer price-fixed dine-in meal selections for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Two-course breakfasts will be priced between $9.95 and $15.95; two-course lunches between $12.95 and $19.95; and three-course dinners will run between $29.95 and $39.95.
Select locations will be offering additional bonus items and incentives such as half-price bottles of wine, discounted appetizers, and/or specialty beverages. Vegetarian and gluten-free diners are in luck, as many participating restaurants offer those options, too. Reservations are recommended as seating will be limited to allow for safe social distancing. Group size will be capped at six people or less per table. Everyone will be required to wear masks when they are not seated for dining.
To accommodate as many preferences as possible, select restaurants will be offering carryout specials that may differ from their dine-in fixed-price selections. Some will offer their fixed-price options to go; some are considering family-size meal deals; still others are planning cocktails-to-go specials.
Participating restaurants include: Annapolis Market House, Annapolis Smokehouse, Blackwall Hitch, Buddy’s Crabs, Café Normandie, Caliente Grill, Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen, Carrol’s Creek Café, Chart House, Fado Irish Pub, Federal House, Galway Bay, Gordon Biersch, Harry Browne’s, In Grano Bistro Bakery, Iron Rooster, Latitude 38 Waterfront Annapolis, Lemongrass, Lemongrass Too, Luna Blu, Maggiano’s Little Italy, McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar, The Melting Pot, Metropolitan Kitchen, Middleton Tavern, Miss Shirley’s Café, O’Briens Oyster Bar, O’Learys Seafood Restaurant, Paul’s Homewood Café, Preserve, Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, Rams Head Tavern, Reynolds Tavern, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Sam’s on the Waterfront, Severn Inn, Stan and Joe’s Saloon, and Yellowfin.
Full details and latest menus online: www.AnnapolisRestaurantWeek.com.
Blackwall Barn & Lodge
Dine in Comfort Amid Rustic Elegance
Since 2018, Blackwall Barn and Lodge in Gambrills has been a favorite of guests looking to host a memorable special occasion. The unique venue offers rustic elegance paired with attentive service.
James King, restaurateur and CEO of Titan Hospitality believes that many of life’s most memorable moments are centered around the dining room table with family, friends and colleagues.
Chef Neal Langerman grew up in the Bay Area of San Francisco and is a former sous chef at Mark Miller’s Red Sage Restaurant in Washington, D.C. While Langerman was there, the restaurant was named Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Restaurant. Langerman has also been named chef of the year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan D.C.
A favorite of guests at Blackwall Barn is the Massive Mary, their signature Bloody Mary complete with an Old Bay rim, Hangar One vodka, Jakes Bloody Mary mix, celery, gherkin pickle, dill pickle, lime wheel, lemon wheel, two pieces of Million Dollar bacon, two beer-steamed shrimp, one jumbo lump crab slider, two blue cheese olives, all topped with a jalapeno stuffed olive.
Blackwall Barn & Lodge features its own house wines — Kings Reserve — and house bourbon, Titan Bourbon.
Brunch returns to Blackwall Barn March 28.
Blackwall Barn and Lodge: 329 Gambrills Rd., Gambrills; 410-317-2276; www.barnandlodge.com
Blackwall Hitch Annapolis
Coastal-Inspired Concept Creates a Local Connection
Eastport favorite Blackwall Hitch was opened in 2014 by James King, restaurateur and CEO of Titan Hospitality.
King wanted the restaurant to feature a nautical-inspired dining theme that would blend the area’s finest in tastes and talents. Seasonally driven and locally sourced food and spirits, local music and friendly staff greet diners upon arrival.
“From the moment you enter Blackwall Hitch, you sense the attention to detail that has been harnessed to bring you and your companions a complete and satisfying dining experience,” King says. “You sense the urban-chic vibe with a connection to history, see and feel the attention to detail with comfortable, creative spaces for gatherings, smell the salty and savory aromas wafting from the oyster bar and dining area, and hear the bustle and music in the pub.”
Chef David Montenez has more than 15 years’ experience in upscale dining. Montenez has been bringing his combination of culinary skill and management background to food scenes in Las Vegas, New York and Florida.
The coastally-inspired concept is evident in the cuisine. The menu draws upon classic American techniques with regional inspiration. Favorite dishes include saffron risotto with jumbo shrimp and scallops, served with a lemon butter sauce, and roasted whole bronzini, a slow-roasted Mediterranean sea bass topped with lemon butter sauce and basil oil, served with grilled lemon halves and seasonal vegetables.
Brunch returns to Blackwall Hitch March 28.
Blackwall Hitch Annapolis: 400 Sixth St., Annapolis; 410-263-3454; www.blackwallhitchannapolis.com
Bread and Butter Kitchen
Eastport’s Best-Kept Secret is Out
This hidden gem at the end of Second Street in Eastport was previously voted Best-Kept Secret by Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Serving classic breakfast and lunch favorites, as well as a few unique dishes, Bread and Butter Kitchen features views of Spa Creek, the U.S. Naval Academy and Ego Alley.
Chef and owner Monica Alvarado began making farm-to-table meals to go and selling them at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market. In 2017, she opened her restaurant. Now she is known across the country for her help feeding others during the pandemic.
Quality ingredients are important to Alvarado. Her menu prominently features fresh, local ingredients as well as a variety of local products. Her ever-evolving menu is evidence that Alvarado listens to her customers. As customers desire to eat less meat and more vegetables and legumes, the Bread and Butter team is developing vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Alvarado recommends newcomers try her Salsa de huevos, a humble breakfast dish from Mexico inspired by a team member’s memories of home. It includes scrambled eggs in a house salsa and is served with refried beans and corn tortillas.
Bread and Butter Kitchen: 303 Second St., Eastport;
Calvert To Go
Map Makes Takeout Easier
For the past 12 months, Calvert County small businesses have been staying afloat in the face of great hardship. Many county restaurants, food trucks, wineries, breweries and local farm product producers are currently offering take-out, curbside pick-up and delivery options to continue to serve the community and make ends meet.
The Department of Economic Development has launched the Calvert To Go program to support these local establishments and make it easier for you to support your favorite restaurants by making a conscious effort to order to-go food and beverages from these businesses. “It was developed as an alternative to Restaurant Week due to the pandemic and has allowed us to highlight how many places in Calvert are offering carryout and delivery options now,” says Tourism Program Specialist Hillary Dailey.
An interactive map points you towards restaurants, food trucks or breweries that offer takeout, making it easy to find dining options that will satisfy your appetite.
“The Calvert To Go map incorporates a wider range of food options – with restaurants, wineries, breweries, stationary food trucks, sweet treat options, as well as local producers and, soon, farmers markets,” Dailey says. There is also a map specific to North Beach.
To make it fun, you can also download the Calvert To Go Bingo card and see how quickly you can achieve a four-in-a-row. Be sure to contact businesses before visiting as many may have altered hours and operations. https://choosecalvert.com/388/CalvertToGo
Food and Wine Experts in Davidsonville
There’s always something happening at culinary and wine destination Harvest Thyme in Davidsonville. From wine or beer dinners to private tastings, this tucked-away restaurant showcases the food and wine knowledge of owner Rik Squillari, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
New specials and Squillari’s charming presence greet you most days. A former wine importer, he is happy to recommend a wine pairing—and patrons are rarely disappointed by his suggestions. Squillari takes the time to find out your wine preferences and steers you toward what he knows you’ll enjoy.
“I was bought out from my job with Epic Wines by a large corporation, and we had been looking for a location for a restaurant for a little over a year,” Squillari says. “We live close to the area and one day I happened to drive by and saw the sign ‘space available’ in the center… I figured that there wasn’t a lot of competition; it was a good neighborhood/community, and it was a location that provided the opportunity to get the liquor license I wanted to build a destination spot.”
“I have done a couple of virtual tastings, a taste and aroma education class and a bourbon dinner,” Squillari says. “We are doing a Chopin vodka, cocktail and cordial dinner on April 27.”
Committed to using seasonal ingredients, most of the dishes served at Harvest Thyme are made from scratch, using no artificial ingredients.
“We now have a covered, enclosed sidewalk area for dining,” Squillari says. “We’ve been able to create foods we’ve been thinking about for some time. The lemon herb-chicken over risotto and the pear and ricotta sacchetti have been excellent sellers.”
Harvest Thyme: 1251 West Central Ave., Davidsonville; 443-203-6846; www.harvestthymetavern.com
Hook and Vine Kitchen and Bar
Made-from-Scratch Favorites in North Beach
Kevin and Monica Phillips found the perfect location to open their dream restaurant in North Beach, the town they had called home for 10 years.
“We started planning about three or four years before we opened in 2018,” Monica says. “We had been in the restaurant industry for over 20 years. We love food and drinks and wanted to share our love with the neighborhood.”
In the kitchen, you’ll find Kevin and Monica at the helm.“Kevin and I are the chefs,” Monica says. “We work with our cooks and encourage creativity and suggestions from the team on menu items. The crab cake recipe has been Kevin’s personal recipe for more years than I know.”
The restaurant prides itself on its made-from-scratch dishes and specializes in Southern coastal cuisine. “We can list every ingredient in it because it was made here,” Monica says. “We offer fresh burgers, house-made sauces and daily deliveries of bread from a local bakery.”
Hook and Vine happily accommodates most dietary needs, such as gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and dairy free.
A few of Monica’s favorite offerings include Kickin’ Shrimp Tempura (also a Bay Weekly staff fave), crab dip with pretzel bread and the jambalaya.
Keep an eye out for the spring menu, which will soon make an appearance.
“Wine dinners are being planned and finalized for upcoming months,” Monica says. “We are also working on Easter packages for pick-up, expanding our outdoor dining plan, updating our happy hour menu and adding wine, bourbon and beer flights.”
Hook and Vine Kitchen and Bar: 4114 7th St., North Beach; 443-964-5488; www.hookandvine.com
JesseJays Latin Inspired Kitchen
A Latin Favorite Brings the Flavor
Jesse Jays Latin Inspired Kitchen serves up delicious, authentic Latin food in South Anne Arundel County, and patrons have been flocking there since it opened. “We fell in love with South County when we visited it,” says Jayleen Fonseca, who co-owns the restaurant in Churchton with husband Jesse Ramirez. “We also realized that there weren’t Latin food restaurants in the area and we thought we could fill that void.”
Once the site of Swamp Circle Saloon, the restaurant started over from scratch—almost. “We’ve kept some of that legacy in our building, like the wooden accent walls and the inside bar, both came from Swamp Circle Saloon,” Fonseca says. “We dubbed our outdoor patio and bar El Swampo and that has stuck with the locals.”
El Swampo won Best of the Bay for Outdoor Dining and JesseJays racked up the wins in nine other categories.
The menu features dishes with the flavors of Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba—many of which are old family recipes. To keep things fresh and your taste buds intrigued, Chef Jesse creates new items weekly. He recommends the Churrasco skirt steak grilled to your preference, topped with a vibrant chimichurri sauce and served with beans and rice.
The staff is ready to get back in the swing of things as the seasons shift. “We are hiring cooks and daytime servers and El Swampo is opening back up soon,” Fonseca says. “We’ve been working on improvements behind the bar to better serve our guests and our food trailer is moving all around Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties. We’ve been expanding our catering business. It’s an exciting place to be.”
JesseJays Latin Inspired Kitchen: 5471 Muddy Creek Rd., Churchton; 240-903-8100; www.jessejays.com
Trusted Source for Authentic Italian Recipes
In 1997, Sal and Maria Lubrano brought real Italian cuisine to Calvert County when they opened their first location in Dunkirk. In 2017 Chesapeake Beach welcomed the opening of Mamma Lucia by the Bay.
Maria grew up in her mother’s deli in Naples. She brought the recipes with her so that when you dine at Mamma Lucia, you are enjoying regional, local favorites from southern Italy. The restaurants feature Italian products whenever possible, including tomato sauce and mozzarella. Mamma Lucia has been a repeat winner of Best Italian Restaurant in CBM Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay.
The Chesapeake Beach location offers the additional lure of seasonal roof-top and patio dining and a tiki bar. All locations feature a menu of antipasti, delize dal mare, polo, vitelli and an extensive wine list.
Mamma Lucia added family sized carryout dinners — feeding four or five — during the pandemic. The budget-friendly option has been so popular that Maria plans on keeping them on the carryout menu. Another popular item created over the year has been the pizza kits — a ready-to-make package of all the ingredients you need to make an authentic pizza at home.
The restaurant is poised to introduce another new addition: brunch at the beach will soon be offered Saturdays and Sundays at the Chesapeake Beach location.
Mamma Lucia: 10136 Southern Maryland Blvd., Dunkirk; 301-812-1240;
8323 Bayside Rd., Chesapeake Beach: 410-257-7700;
Pirates Cove Restaurant
Dining on the West River
Pirates Cove in Galesville has been around since 1975, but few know the story of how it came to be the popular spot it is today. “There are not a lot of waterfront restaurants on the Chesapeake with even fewer opportunities to create new ones,” says Anthony Clarke, co-owner of Pirates Cove.
As Clarke and business partner Michael Galway, of the Irish Restaurant Company, were purchasing what is now Killarney House in Davidsonville, they heard that the owner of Pirates Cove was planning to retire. “Michael and I struck a deal to purchase the Pirates Cove Restaurant and Hotel business and took it over without closing the restaurant operation on April 15, 2015,” says Clarke. “We have continually made improvements since then to the building and the menu offerings to what it is today.”
The restaurant has proven itself as a repeat winner in numerous categories in Best of the Bay awards from both CBM Bay Weekly and Chesapeake Bay Magazine and continues to be recognized as a gem along the Bay.
“All waterfront dining spots sit in a high demand category during the summer months,” Clarke says. “Our aim is to grow the reputation of Pirates Cove into a place not just for the summer months but for 12 months of the year.”
The team at Pirates Cove is committed to the community — and the community is committed to Pirates Cove. From coat drives to feeding healthcare workers during the pandemic, the restaurant is well-known for its fundraising activities. “We’ve created fundraising opportunities within the local community, which has firmly established us within the Galesville community,” Clarke says.
During the pandemic, Pirates Cove began offering mixed cocktails, beers and specialty drinks along with a carryout menu for curbside pickup. The restaurant plans on keeping those elements to go and is supporting legislation that would allow restaurants to do so.
Pirates Cove is also considered one of the best spots in town for live music.
“Our music line up is going great,” Clarke says. “Plenty of local acts have persevered through it with us in many different formats.” Clarke says that the entertainment calendar will grow as the seasons change.
The changing seasons means a new menu, too. Chef Steve Hardison is currently working on the spring/summer menu. “It will feature some old favorites returning and new creations,” Clarke says. “We are excited to open up outside areas and the dock bar as soon as weather permits.”
In the meantime, patrons can enjoy oyster night every Thursday, with shucking by local fisherman Adam Keller.
Pirates Cove Restaurant: 4817 Riverside Dr., Galesville; 410-867-2300; www.piratescovemd.com
Severna Park Taphouse
Come for the Beer, Stay for the Food
In 2010, Mark Tinordi and Jeff Kogok purchased former neighborhood watering hole Snyder’s and created the Severna Park Taphouse, a family friendly restaurant with an eye on the burgeoning craft beer industry.
The restaurant is known for its constantly rotating menu of special release and hard-to-find craft beers, with 41 beers on tap, two nitro taps, and a custom hand cranked cask. The restaurant offers outdoor seating — including a covered outdoor pavilion — and boasts great food, live music, plenty of televisions for sports and a wide selection of wine and spirits, too.
“They had a vision to create a comfortable restaurant where friends can gather to enjoy exceptional food and great craft beer,” says General Manager Jessica Tinordi, wife of owner Mark, a retired Washington Capitals hockey player. Their daughter Natalie also works at the restaurant as a manager.
In the kitchen, chef Edwin Santos specializes in American coastal cuisine. “Edwin’s love for scratch cooking and creativity can be seen across our menu, from hand-rolled shrimp egg rolls, fresh pico de gallo, and hand-made stuffed jalapenos, to a local favorite, hand-battered flash fried spicy shrimp.” says Tinordi.
The menu is an eclectic mix of American fare, incorporating Chesapeake Bay dishes like Maryland crab dip, jumbo lump crab cakes, rockfish tacos, a signature Certified Angus Beef “Taphouse Burger” and smoked meat specials. On the horizon is a newly added brunch offering and a Spring menu. ‘The new menu will feature some patron favorites, possibly the smoked Wagyu brisket,” says Tinordi.
Taphouse also offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-reduced options including the Beyond Burger, Chick-Un Buffalo Wrap and Quinoa Veggie Bowl.
Severna Park Taphouse: 58 W. Earleigh Heights Rd., Severna Park; 410-793-5759; www.severnaparktaphouse.com
New Kitchen and Wine Bar is a Hit in Annapolis
New to Annapolis in 2020, Smashing Grapes Kitchen and Wine Bar brought the West Coast food scene to the Mid-Atlantic region. Complete with its Cali-coastal designed interior, the restaurant fuses Mediterranean and California coastal cuisines paired with more than 350 world-class wines and hand-crafted cocktails.
“We wanted to bring an idyllic West Coast-styled experience to the region and offer our guests a wine list and menu that is thoughtful and provides a tailored and memorable experience,” says James King, restaurateur and CEO of Titan Hospitality. “When guests visit Smashing Grapes, they will get a first-class experience with a sommelier-crafted wine list, innovative craft cocktails and a menu that brings new flavors to the Annapolis food scene.”
Chef Matt Newland started cooking in college and decided to make a career of it. He then moved to Charleston, South Carolina to attend culinary school and worked there for ten years before moving to Maryland.
Newland crafts a menu highlighting Coastal California-inspired dishes with sustainably sourced, unique ingredients. Menu options include grilled avocado tacos made with corn tortillas and topped with Fresno chili dressing, and the California burger featuring a vegan patty, smashed avocado, lettuce, tomato, and grilled corn salsa.
Smashing Grapes Annapolis also offers a VIP wine tasting experience. Smashing Grapes wine experts will take you on an immersive journey through five select wines for a wine country experience without leaving Annapolis.
Smashing Grapes Kitchen and Wine Bar: 177 Jennifer Rd., Annapolis; 410-266-7474; www.smashinggrapes.com
Cuisine inspired by the Deep South
Southern cuisine meets local hospitality at Soul in Annapolis, where the menu is updated seasonally and inspired by the food of the Carolinas and Louisiana.
Classic dishes include ribs, fried chicken, red beans and rice, gumbo and jambalaya. They also offer salads, flat breads and vegetable side dishes. If you’re not sure which mouth-watering option to pick, the chef suggests the shrimp and grits featuring andouille sausage and creole sauce. Soul offers all-day breakfast options. Try the Huevos Rancheros or Eggs de la Soul, which features scrambled eggs, chunky bacon, grits and grilled toast.
Soul has also upped its cocktail game, offering barrel-aged libations. They mix classics like Sazeracs and Manhattans in an oak casket for 30 days to produce a smoother taste. Combining its unique menu and extensive bar offerings, the restaurant has also begun hosting tasting dinners, pairing a special menu with wine or spirits. The bourbon dinner has become a guest favorite.
Soul: 509 S. Cherry Grove, Annapolis; 410-267-6191; www.soulannapolis.com
South County Cafe
Serving Up Local Favorites Daily
Known for its daily specials, holiday pie runs and fresh local catch, South County Cafe in Deale is a favorite for locals. Located in a picturesque blue house surrounded by oyster shells, the interior features a Bay nautical décor and the menu reflects the hearty appetites of this waterfront community.
In the kitchen, Chef Kyle Wood is in charge of consistently delivering delicious meals. This local farmer’s son has been dedicated to the restaurant industry since the age of 15. Chef Wood prides himself on using fresh, quality ingredients. Diners will enjoy the home-cooked, freshly made favorites, such as seafood dishes and homemade deli goods and sandwiches. A slice of one of their fresh baked pies is the perfect ending to any meal.
Local favorites are the Three Little Pigs sandwich—crispy pork belly, bacon and Black Forest ham with lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese and garlic mayo served on a baguette—and the crab cakes. Stop by for breakfast and lunch specials or pick up an espresso or latte and a baked treat from Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry.
South County Cafe: 5960 Deale Churchton Rd., Deale; 410-867-6450; www.southcountycafe.com
South County’s Favorite Sushi Spot
Owner Chang Park and Chef Paul—both natives of Korea—first worked together in a Washington, D.C., restaurant. After ten years working side by side, Park decided to bring their sushi expertise to southern Anne Arundel County and opened Umai Sushi in Deale.
Park greets customers like friends, offering suggestions and ensuring you enjoy every aspect of your meal. Chef Paul—a sushi chef for more than 28 years—expertly prepares everything to your specifications. One of his specialties is deep-fried sushi.
If sushi isn’t your thing, try one of Umai’s many traditional Korean dishes, such as bulgogi made with thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue. Another popular dish is Japchae, a sweet and savory stir fry dish made with glass noodles and vegetables.
You’ll also find Japanese dishes on the menu. Park makes the avocado dressing and Yum Yum sauce herself. Park also serves up her secret recipe lemon-and-cherry flavored dipping sauce to be enjoyed with specific dishes.
The outdoor patio dining area has been expanded in response to the pandemic and it looks like the extra seating is here to stay. Discover for yourself why this restaurant is a repeat winner of CBM Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay.
Umai Sushi: 657 Deale Rd., Deale; 410-867-4433
Upscale Pub Grub in Edgewater
A family owned and operated tavern offering pub food and a wide selection of beers, Waterman’s Tavern in Edgewater is a popular spot to catch a game.
Waterman’s offers daily specials and a world-famous happy hour.
Buy One Get One chips offered Monday to Friday from 3-6pm. When you buy a beer, mixed drink or a glass of wine you get a Waterman’s chip — just like the tokens you get at a casino. You can “cash in” your chip for a free drink.
Diners receive 20 percent off when they mention CBM Bay Weekly between 11am- 3pm.
Waterman’s Tavern: 145 Mayo Rd., Edgewater; 410-956-5113; www.watermans-eats.com