From restauratuer to wine wholesaler

TABLE TALK

October 07, 1999|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,Sun Restaurant Critic

When Gino Troia opened Troia the Bistro at the Walters three years ago, he essentially left the original Cafe Troia (28 W. Allegheny Ave., Towson) in the hands of his family. (The bistro has since closed.) So customers probably won't notice much difference now that he's completely out of the restaurant business and operating Mondo Vino, a Maryland wine wholesaler.

His wife, Carol, runs the restaurant with daughter Daniela in the kitchen. Gino's brother, Ernie Troia, is also involved.

"Gino has gone on to do his own thing," says Carol Troia.

What's new at Cafe Troia is an expanded kitchen and a party room. Otherwise, things are much the same. Exceptional food is still served in a neighborhood-restaurant atmosphere.

Return to Cantonese

When two of the owners of the Hunan Manor in Columbia decided to open a second restaurant, they wanted to do something different. So the new Congee House (Oakland Mills Shopping Center in Columbia) specializes in Cantonese and Hong Kong cuisine. It's ironic because 25 years ago, before Hunan and Sichuan food became all the rage, Chinese restaurants around here served only Cantonese dishes.

Specialties of the house include rice soup (congee), roast pig and roast duck. Dim sum is offered every day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you just can't bear to give up your favorite spicy dishes, the Congee House's comprehensive menu includes lots of Hunan and Sichuan selections.

We're all in this together

Hampden's newest cafe, Common Ground (819 W. 36th St.), is tiny but packs a lot of punch with its Oriental carpets, chandeliers, globe collection and local artwork. Open from 8:30 a.m. to "5-ish" Tuesday through Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, the cafe specializes in bagels, sandwiches made with Stone Mill bread, pastries and specialty coffee drinks.

So is it called Common Ground because of the coffee? Not at all, says owner Jeff Nelson. "It's a 'we share the planet' kind of thing."

Mama mia

The names Jim and John Lancaster don't sound Italian, but the food at their Canton deli and carryout, Rosina Gourmet (2819 O'Donnell St.), is about as authentically Italian as you can get. Rosina, whose parents were Italian, is their mom; and she's the inspiration for the homemade sausage and handmade pastas and sauces available to take home.

Rosina's overstuffed sandwiches range from basil-pesto chicken salad with watercress on baguette to Parma ham and fresh mozzarella. Look for homemade soups and daily specials for lunch as well.

Mucho sushi

If you're in Ellicott City and feel like sushi -- a lot of sushi -- check out Mirocjo (10194 Baltimore National Pike). The Japanese-Korean restaurant, whose name means roughly "taste-fun-place," has all-you-can-eat sushi at lunchtime for $6.95, at dinner for $15.95.

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.

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