What deli does, it does well


May 15, 2002|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Trattoria Annamaria, a charming Federal Hill deli and grocery, doesn't attempt too much - thick Italian sandwiches, a handful of pasta dishes, soup and a special or two. But what it does, it does well.

The small restaurant includes a few tables and a counter section that looks out on busy Light Street. Murals featuring David and Venus grace the walls, and that familiar smell of Italian cheese and cold cuts lets you know what awaits you.

The special the day I ventured in was, fortunately, a chicken parmigiana sandwich on a fresh sub roll ($5.95). Inside was a thick slab of chicken breast bathed in a hearty tomato sauce and covered in melted mozzarella.

A prosciutto sandwich ($7.25) on a garlic-laced focaccia roll was tasty. The extra $1 that it cost to include fresh mozzarella was worth it, and the "hots" were delicious - finely chopped peppers with lots of zip.

The chicken soup on special ($2.95 for about a pint) was a winner: chunks of meat in a creamy broth studded with wild rice, shredded carrots, oregano and other herbs. It needed no extra seasoning and was, in a word, heartwarming.

A turkey and Genoa salami sandwich, which also came on a fresh focaccia roll, coated with olive oil, garlic, herbs and more of those hots, was also above average. We washed it all down with delightfully tangy San Pellegrino Limonata sodas.

The deli sells cookies and other sweets flown in from Italy. I tried the Milano dama, little checkerboard-style chocolate cookies that provided an appealing mix of sweet and salt. The cookies were a bit dry - not surprising, given their origin. Still, I managed to wolf down a small bag full.

The service was pleasant and careful, if not particularly speedy. Annamaria features a decent selection of Italian groceries - including polenta in a tube - as well as homemade sauces, meatballs and sausages. It offers catering, but does not deliver. Because it's Federal Hill, on-street parking can be elusive, but if you're in the area, it's worth a try.

Trattoria Annamaria

Food: ***

Service: ***

Waiting room: ***

Parking: *

Where: 1035 Light St., Baltimore

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Prices: $4.75 to $6.25 for sandwiches Credit cards accepted

Phone: 410-244-5999

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor:*

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