At the Improv, dining is no joke

January 10, 2002|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

Comedy clubs aren't usually known for their food. But Baltimore's Improv (in Power Plant Live!) is one of a new breed. Three years ago, Al Copeland Investments, which owns the Copeland's of New Orleans group of upscale casual restaurants, bought the Improv chain. The clubs that have opened since then, like Baltimore's, have a full-fledged restaurant.

"The advantage of dining at Improv is not only good food but a really nice seat for the show," says Tony Baldino, president of Comedy Club Inc., a division of the company. Full meals are available only before the first show; those with dinner reservations, who must arrive 90 minutes early, get priority seating.

Note that Baldino said dining, not eating. The menu backs him up: It includes entrees like sauteed chicken with artichokes, prime rib and seafood specials. Prices are moderate - under $20. For later shows, appetizers, sandwiches and salads are available.

Pick a pasta

You have to give Arundel Mills credit. It offers some of the most interesting mall food around. The latest example is Fuzio, which opened Dec. 31.

Most cultures eat pasta in some form or other, and Fuzio - which promises "universal pasta" - has all the varieties on its menu. OK, that's an exaggeration, but the range of pastas offered is impressive. To name a few: firecracker pork fusilli, udon bowl with vegetables, pad Thai and linguini and meatballs.

Everything, including the desserts, is made fresh daily in Fuzio's open kitchen. Prices are under $10 for most of the pasta dishes, with specials slightly higher.

This is the California-based chain's second venture on the East Coast (the first is in Washington). And, yes, the restaurant does have a liquor license.

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 410-783-2519; or e-mail to elizabeth.large@baltsun.com.

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