O'Leary moves into Mexican fare

TABLE TALK

November 25, 1999|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,Sun Restaurant Critic

Who would have thought that Tom O'Leary's new Annapolis project would be a Chevy's Fresh Mex, part of a 150-restaurant national chain?

O'Leary is one of the original owners of O'Learys, the chic little seafood restaurant in Eastport. Eleven years ago he sold out to a partner and opened a catering business in Annapolis.

"I told my wife if I ever went into the restaurant business again it would be a breakfast shop or a Mexican restaurant," O'Leary says.

Originally from San Diego, O'Leary has a fondness for authentic Mexican food. Chevy's food qualifies, he says. "Everything's fresh. The guacamole. The tamales. Everything's homemade. The only reason we have a freezer is for the ice cream."

When Chevy's opens at 2436 Solomons Island Road on Dec. 8, it will feature traditional Mexican fare, fresh fish and ribs. Look for seasonal items as well -- namely, a fresh cranberry margarita.

Chevy's will be open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The average check at the franchise restaurants is $10 per person, says O'Leary.

Design-it-yourself pasta

No mas. No Mas Jose, that is. It's a little complicated, but last spring when Federal Hill's No Way Jose moved to new quarters across the street from its old place, it opened Mas Jose (More Jose, in other words) in the space it vacated at 1041 Marshall St.

Unfortunately, says co-owner John Killian, "we were in competition with ourselves. We needed a completely different menu."

So earlier this month the owners opened the Pasta Company in Mas Jose's space. Killian calls it "interactive dining." You choose from nine different pastas, eight or nine homemade sauces and various toppings like shrimp, julienne vegetables and the like. Prices start at $8.99 for a pasta and a sauce. "You create your own dish down to the very last clam," he says.

Hours are 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 5 p.m. to midnight Sundays.

Dated view of Charm City

With restaurants like Atlantic, the Ruby Lounge, Sotto Sopra, the Helmand, the Brass Elephant and such thriving in Baltimore, we tend to think of ourselves as a pretty sophisticated city food-wise. That's not how we look to the rest of the world -- or at least not to Saveur magazine. Last month's issue featured a major article called "Charm City's Food Is Old-Time Funky Fun."

Not that we don't love the restaurants that were featured: Maison Marconi, Bo Brooks, Woman's Industrial Exchange and Haussner's. (Let's not tell them that Haussner's has closed.) But this view of Baltimore's food to the exclusion of anything else is a little dated, Hon.

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 410-783-2502; or e-mail to elizabeth.large@baltsun.com.

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