Trendy cafe closer to home

Menu: Cheese, vegetables and seafood star in Donna's light-fare dishes.

Restaurant profile

May 02, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Donna's has come to Howard County.

A Donna's Cafe Coffee Bar opened April 12 in Clarksville, and another is slated to open in July on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia. Finally, Howard County diners can enjoy the popular cafe in their own back yard.

The Donna's chain was founded more than 10 years ago by Donna Crivello, a former Sun journalist. It now has 11 locations, including one in Annapolis and one in Washington.

The menu is the same at every location, said Brian Todd, general manager of the Annapolis, Snowden River and Clarksville locations, who has been with Donna's about six years. Coffee drinks and baked goods are offered all day. The baked goods, including cookies, scones and muffins, are baked by Donna's Baltimore bakery for all locations, Todd said.

Lunch is mostly salads, sandwiches and pizzas, but with imaginative twists.

Vegetables, seafood and cheese take center stage on the menu, with such signature lunch dishes as a salad of Gorgonzola cheese and tart green apples, or a sandwich of smoked salmon, vegetables and Gorgonzola vinaigrette. Pizza choices include a roasted vegetable, smoked salmon and smoked chicken.

Though most of the fare is light, hamburgers are on the menu, as well as a roast beef sandwich. Donna's pan bagna is a baguette filled with cheese, hot and sweet peppers, and Italian meats.

Dinner features such items as seafood risotto with sun-dried tomatoes and capers, and grilled Tuscan chicken served with sauteed vegetables and cannelloni beans.

The most popular dishes, Todd said, are the seafood risotto and the walnut encrusted chicken breast, served in a Gorgonzola cream sauce with roasted red peppers and spinach.

Other dinner choices are the orzo paella with sausage, shrimp and chicken; and cheese ravioli with roasted portabello mushrooms. Specials are also available each night.

Dessert choices include an enormous fudge brownie served with ice cream and chocolate sauce, and bread pudding.

The simple color scheme - basically gray, tan and black - brings a touch of urban chic to the Clarksville shopping center.

Pastel prints decorate the walls, and Todd noted that the decor is a little brighter than at some other Donna's locations.

The large windows let in lots of light, but also, unfortunately, a view of the parking lot. Outdoor tables sit on a deck, but also overlook the parking lot. The restaurant seats about 70, with outdoor seating available for about another 30.

A window to the kitchen allows diners to see the chefs inside but not what those chefs are doing.

The Clarksville location does not have a liquor license, but patrons are invited to bring beer or wine.

Donna's Cafe Coffee Bar

Where: 5809 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville; 443-535-9943.

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: Appetizers, $2.95 to $8.95; entrees, $8.95 to $14.95

Credit cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Card

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