Vespa, a Spike & Charlie's offshoot

Table Talk

September 24, 1998|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

First there was Spike & Charlie's, then jr., and sometime in November the Atlantic in the American Can Co. building in Canton will open. Now add Vespa, if somewhat peripherally, to the Gjerde restaurant empire.

The story is convoluted: Stephen Ward, general manager of Spike and Charlie Gjerde's three restaurants, is opening his own place where Pimella's Market Cafe used to be at 1117-21 S. Charles St. in Federal Hill. Spike Gjerde is helping design the kitchen and is the inspiration for the food. His wife, Amy Gjerde, will be Vespa's manager. (The new restaurant's name, by the way, is "fairly certain" but could change, says Ward.)

Look for the "fun cafe" with an Italian-influenced menu to open sometime next month. Specializing in pastas and pizzas, Vespa will have moderately priced entrees in the $7-$15 range. The wine list will be a priority, with lots of wines by the glass and perhaps a wine bar.

"There are terrific Italian red wines out there now," says Ward, "And some awesome values."

Ze new chef

Ze Mean Bean Cafe (1739 Fleet St.) has a new chef and, for the first time, separate lunch and dinner menus. The chef is Kevin Miller, who last worked at the respected Blue Moon in Rehoboth. The Fells Point cafe is known for its Slavic specialties; they will remain on the menu, but dinner selections now include such dishes as grilled duck breast with dried cranberry-orange sauce, and a pan-seared smoked pork chop with spiced pear chutney and sweet potato hash.

Two tastings

People who love to eat out should mark Oct. 4 and Nov. 1 on their calendars.

On the 4th, 18 of Howard County's restaurants will participate in A Taste and Auction of Howard County, including King's Contrivance, Bombay Peacock Grill, Piccolo's, the Tomato Palace, Clyde's and Crab Shanty. The food tasting, a benefit for the Hospice of Howard County, takes place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center. Call 410-730-5072.

On Nov. 1, 36 Anne Arundel County restaurants will be represented at the 18th Annual Concert of Tastes, sponsored by the Friends of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. A concert and food tasting, the event takes place from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Wyndham Garden Hotel in Annapolis. Participating restaurants include the Corinthian, the Treaty of Paris, Kent Manor Inn, O'Leary's, Michaelangelo and Carrol's Creek Cafe. Call 410-974-1219.

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278; fax: 410-783-2519 or e-mail

Pub Date: 9/24/98

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