Kim's Acton's new venture

TABLE TALK

January 14, 1999|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,Sun Restaurant Critic

Kim Acton, owner and chef of the new Pazza Luna (1401 E. Clement St.), is known to a lot of restaurant-goers. She's the former owner of Tutti Gusti in Ocean City, was restaurant manager at the old Pimlico and later Lennys Chop House and was manager of the now-closed Green Earth on 39th Street. No wonder her new place has been packed in its first week of operation.

Last summer Acton bought Dinelli's Cafe in Locust Point and renovated it. The new restaurant has a bar downstairs and two dining rooms upstairs. The first floor features midnight-blue walls, a polished granite bar and lots of celestial motifs. (The name means "crazy moon" in Italian.) The upstairs is cozy and comfortable, with cream-colored walls sporting gold and silver stars.

Pazza Luna's menu changes daily, but there are usually three or four pastas, several northern Italian entrees and a southern Italian dish or two. Prices range from $8.95 for pasta to $23.95 for osso buco. Desserts and breads are made on the premises.

Acton's new venture is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner only right now; by the end of the month it may be open for lunch.

What's hot

This month's issue of Bon Appetit magazine features what its staff considers the Top-10 current food trends. We haven't seen all of them at local restaurants, but a lot of them hold true.

Here we go:

Fresh greens. Local restaurants still don't do as much with vegetables as I'd like to see, but their salads have definitely improved. A variety of interesting greens is no longer a novelty or exclusive to the upscale places.

Fat is back. Absolutely. Just think about the popularity of Morton's and Shula's and all the other steakhouses.

Homey desserts. They often have contemporary twists, like Ze Mean Bean's pumpkin bread pudding with homemade cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce.

The new Greek cooking. The traditional cuisine is getting a modern makeover. Baltimore's Black Olive comes to mind.

The dessert of the year: flourless chocolate cake. It seems as if there's one on every other restaurant's menu. Lennys Chop House has a particularly deadly one.

Artisan breads. Crusty, chewy and delicious breads have become the norm in restaurant bread baskets. I love the sunflower rolls at Morgan Millard, the raisin fennel baguette at Appetite, the fine peasant breads and focaccia that many local Italian restaurants offer.

Nuevo Latino cuisine. This modernization of classic Hispanic fare may be coming here with the soon-to-be-open Latin Palace in Fells Point.

Classy fast food. Prime example: the Dallas-based La Madeleine chain that opened in Columbia. Zi Pani, which opened in eight locations locally, is another.

One-dish meals. Only in the sense that local restaurants tend to focus on the main event to the exclusion of whatever accompanies it.

Soy gets sexy. Never.

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278; fax to 410-752-6049; or e-mail to elizabeth.large@baltsun.com.

Pub Date: 01/14/99

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