Is Michael Dalesio becoming the roving restaurateur?
In the last few years, the popular chef-host has hopscotched from Little Italy to downtown to Annapolis. Now we hear he's back in Baltimore with a neighborhood pub -- Ransome's Harbor Hill Cafe, 1032 Riverside Ave., in Federal Hill.
Many of the Italian dishes on the menu -- fettuccine with smoked salmon and clams with garlic butter -- may be familiar to Mr. Dalesio's fans. He created some memorable recipes while running Dalesio's in Little Italy and Michael's Riviera Grill in the Brookshire Hotel.
Ransome's -- with its mahogany bar, brass sconces and tin ceiling -- is more casual than his previous spots, with prices ranging from $8.75 (for spaghetti) to $16.75 (for a New York strip steak). The word is that the homemade desserts -- especially chef Shelly Levy's frozen chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce -- are worth every calorie.
There's also good news about parking, which is often difficult in the neighborhood. The restaurant owners -- Marie Ransome and Joe Friedman -- have the use of a lot just a block away.
Mr. Dalesio says he's uncertain where he may wander next. For now, he's simply focusing on Ransome's.
"But what I really like to do," he says, "is open these places up and then move on."
TAVERN II: There's more news on the casual dining front. Bootlegger's An American Tavern, 36 S. Calvert St., opened last week in the spot vacated by Schaefer's Pub downtown. This may turn out to be the new place for late-night dining, since the kitchen regularly stays open until 1 a.m.
In keeping with the thrifty '90s, the restaurant partners -- Bob Cockey and Ollie Wooten -- are keeping prices moderate. In fact, the most expensive item on the menu is a crab cake for $6.95.
"This is not a fancy-shmancy-type white-tablecloth restaurant. It's an old-time tavern," says Mr. Cockey, who previously owned Cockey'sin Westminster.
AFTER THE FIRE: Just two months after it was seriously damaged by fire, the Harryman House, 340 Main St. in Reisterstown, has reopened. During a "grand opening" party several weeks ago, more than 300 well-wishers turned out to say welcome back.
Although the rustic decor is the same, the restaurant, which is actually a 200-year-old log cabin, received extensive renovations. the walls, paint and light fixtures look new, owner John Worthington says there's good reason: They are.
CHEF DU JOUR: The Baltimore Brewing Company has a new man behind the stove these days.
Several weeks ago, Dan Manning took over the brewery-eatery at 104 Albemarle St.
His plans sound ambitious. In addition to baking bread himself, Mr. Manning, who got his start at King's Contrivance in Columbia, is adding lighter German dishes, more Maryland seafood and vegetarian meals.
"I'm trying to bring things into the '90s by cooking with fruit, using lighter sauces and adding vegetables," he says.
KITCHEN-HOPPING: Speaking of kitchen-hopping, we hear that James Feldbush, a chef at Dici Naz Velleggia's in Towson, is leaving to become one of the chefs at Captain Harvey's in Owings Mills.
AND MORE CHANGES: Churchill's will soon become Cochini, a Persian-Italian restaurant at 225 N. Liberty St. The new owner, Mark Abdshah, has made changes to the interior as well -- adding paintings, fountains and soft music for a more romantic ambience.
FROM THE OOPS FILE: In last month's column, we should have described Sharon Ashburn, the current chef at the Eager House, as the former assistant chef at Tabrizi's, 1026 S. Charles St. Michael Tabrizi has been and still is the executive chef and co-owner. His partner Susan Daniel tells us he's currently training a new assistant -- Jack Shehadeh, who owned a French restaurant in Philadelphia.
ENDNOTE: Local diners may want to check out this month's Bon Appetit, with its glossy six-page spread on Baltimore's harbor area dining. Hampton's, Windows, Phillips, Paolo's and the Chart House were among the restaurants to win over the hearts -- and stomachs -- of the writers. And our fair city, we must say, never looked better.
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