Go to town on seafood in the crab cake capital NCAA TOURNAMENT

March 16, 1995|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Restaurant Critic

You may have come to Baltimore for great basketball, but you don't want to leave without sampling our seafood.

The first thing you need to know about eating out in Baltimore is that we're the crab cake capital of America, perhaps the universe. Don't leave town without trying one of these delicacies.

Second, all our best restaurants have wonderful seafood -- even places with names such as the Prime Rib. Here are some nearby places to eat that capture the essence of Baltimore or, at the very least, offer a fine crab cake. Dollar signs are a rough guide to cost: $ = inexpensive, $$ = moderate, $$$ = expensive, $$$$ = very expensive.

Crab cakes and beyond

Berry & Elliot's, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Light St., (410) 528-1234. $$$ New American cuisine. The view is great and the lump crab cakes even better.

Chart House, 601 E. Pratt St., Pier 4, (410) 539-6616. $$$ Seafood and beef. A large, noisy, handsome restaurant on the water. You'll love the crab cakes, and the lobster is excellent.

Fishery, 1717 Eastern Ave., (410) 327-9340. $$ Seafood, Spanish cuisine. Specialties like sole with bananas and red snapper in a spicy butter sauce.

Piccolo's at Fells Point, 1629 Thames St., (410) 522-6600. $$$ Italian and seafood. Local seafood, including crab cakes, with a Tuscan twist. Get there by water taxi.

Pier 500, HarborView Marina, 500 HarborView Dr., (410) 625-0500. $$$ Seafood. Sophisticated atmosphere, local specialties like crab imperial, plus dishes such as bouillabaisse.

Little Italy

Baltimore's Little Italy is just a few blocks from the Inner Harbor. You won't go far wrong with any of its over 20 restaurants; but here are a few that offer more than just traditional Italian fare.

Amicci's, 231 S. High St., (410) 528-1096. $$ Casual, almost funky atmosphere, fresh and delicious food.

Boccaccio, 925 Eastern Ave., (410) 234-1322. $$$$ Big-ticket prices, but worth it. The grilled veal chop is out of this world.

Caesar's Den, 223 S. High St., (410) 547-0820. $$$ A lively hand with classic Italian dishes, good grilled foods.

Germano's Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515. $$ Regional food from Tuscany. Great osso bucco.

Raphael's, 411 S. High St., (410) 727-4235. $$ Italian dishes with a sophisticated twist, like black ravioli with lobster sauce.

Great bars, great food

Bohager's, 515 S. Eden St., (410) 563-7220. $$ Bar and grill with new Southwestern dining room called the Cactus Rose Grill. Tex-Mex and more.

Fat Lulu's, 1818 Maryland Ave., (410) 685-4665. $$ Wonderful Cajun food: jambalaya, crawfish, shrimp Creole, peach corn bread. Live jazz.

Henninger's Tavern, 1812 Bank St., (410) 342-2172. $$ If your idea of bar food is a burger and fries, think again. Think fried oysters on spinach, lamb chops with a dark, minty sauce, red snapper with pineapple salsa.

John Steven Ltd., 1800 Thames St. (410) 327-5561. $$ Everything from sushi to world-class crab cakes to roast duck. Funky colonial dining rooms.

Owl Bar, 1 E. Chase St., (410) 347-0888. $$ Italian-influenced casual fare. Wood-burning oven pizzas. Fine raw bar.

Sisson's, 36 E. Cross St., (410) 539-2093. $$ Great beer memorabilia. Interesting dishes with beer as an ingredient, Cajun specialties, home-brewed beer.

Weber's on Boston, 845 South Montford Ave., (410) 276-0800. $$ Pub menu plus choices like mussels in white wine, salmon en papilotte. Lots of atmosphere. Good Southern-style Sunday brunch.

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