Starry Nights makes effort to be different, succeeds

Rural location sets it apart

owner wants `good food, but casual'

Restaurant profile

June 08, 2000|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

You don't usually think of West Friendship as a place to find a nice restaurant, but maybe that's why Starry Nights landed where it is.

Starry Nights is different from the few other restaurants in the area.

"We were hoping that it would be the kind of place [that western Howard County residents] would appreciate," said owner and manager John Mitzosof Reisterstown. "We wanted to do things a little bit differently ... good food, but casual."

Hans Cooper was the restaurant's chef for most of the year and a half in West Friendship. But when Cooper decided to go back to his family in Germany last month, Mitzos hired David Crider.Crider comes from the CD Cafe on Solomons Island and specializes in contemporary California cuisine. Look for a new menu this month with many favorites and new dishes, too.

The restaurant is in the West Friendship shopping center between a doctor's office and a dentist's office, near a post office.

"There's not much out here, but we thought, because there are no restaurants here, it would be a good spot," Mitzos said.

He said the restaurant earned its name because the remote location is excellent for stargazing.

The menu offers a variety of contemporary American foods. Entrees include French-cut spiced pork chop with sauerkraut, meatloaf in hunter sauce and grilled tuna New Orleans-style topped with wine oyster sauce and red and green pepper sauce.

Choose from the three appetizers of smoked salmon with a potato pancake, mushroom tart or crispy shrimp. Two or three more appetizers will be added to the menu this month.

Soups are Hungarian goulash, crab and corn chowder, and soup of the day. The restaurant offers a mixed green salad with D'Anjoupear, Gorgonzolacheese and walnuts in raspberry vinaigrette, or a peasant salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, pepperonciniand calamataolives.

Pasta dishes include vegetables sauteed with garlic and olive oil over linguini in a basil cream sauce, and seafood fettuccini with scallops, shrimp, salmon and lobster topped with pecorinoromano.

Mitzos said filet of beef Madagascar, grilled salmon with herb butter, and surf and turf are popular entrees.

The children's offerings are a large, juicy cheeseburger, chicken fingers or a choice of pasta with marinara sauce. Children's meals range from $4.50 to $6.

Homemade desserts prepared include cheesecake, carrot cake and chocolate cake at $5 each.

The restaurant is divided into two rooms. Lovely star lights hang from the ceiling in the entry, which is the original restaurant area. It has a bar and several booths and small tables - which are dressed with crisp white linens along with a candle in the center.

When the neighboring space became available, Mitzos rented it and expanded to a capacity of about 90 seats. Decorating of the new space isn't complete, but its simple gray walls and floor provide a relaxing atmosphere.

In the dining room, the music of Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra was heard in the background during a recent visit. At the bar, a big-screen television was tuned to an Orioles game. The restaurant offers smoking and nonsmoking sections.

Starry nights

Where: West Friendship shopping center, West Friendship, 410-442-2140.

Hours: 4 9 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Prices: Appetizers, $6 to $8; entrees, $14 to $24.

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover.

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