From casual to elegant, dining options abound

Restaurants: Area choices range from Italian elegance to down-home diners.

October 27, 2002|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ahh ... the pleasures of dining out - someone to wait on you instead of you doing the honors. Great food to please your palate. And best of all, no dishes to wash.

If you live in Harford County, there is a vast array of restaurants offering delicious delicacies.

From Northern Italian cuisine to Maryland crab cakes to big, beefy hamburgers, restaurants throughout the county have something to satisfy the most discriminating taste.

In historic Havre de Grace, along the beautiful, serene Susquehanna River, sits the Tidewater Grille. Patrons can relish the water view while enjoying delicious seafood, veal and chicken.

Lunch runs between $6.95 and $12.95 and dinner, $14.50 to $26.95.

The grill's decor matches the environment, with pictures of birds and long blades of grass blanketing the walls. The menu includes a steamed shrimp appetizer and fish dishes. The restaurant is most famous for its crab cakes, delicately seasoned.

Perhaps best of all is the view.

"It's our biggest attribute," said Donna Walker, assistant manager.

If you like Northern Italian cuisine and want a fine dining experience, check out Scotto's Cafe in Bel Air.

Owned by the Illiano family for the past 12 years, the restaurant's menu features pasta, chicken, veal and seafood, among other entrees.

"Everything is authentic Italian," said Michelle Wier, head server at the cafe. Lunch is priced up to $12, while dinner ranges from $19 to $28.

Known for its romantic booths, Scotto's also serves large groups, including those celebrating anniversaries and weddings.

Popular dishes include shrimp and crab Positano and fish and steak specials. Desserts run between $4 and $7 and feature cakes, cannoli, tiramisu and sorbet.

Also in Bel Air is the Georgetown North Restaurant, where seafood dishes abound. Steak and pasta are also plentiful. Lunch costs between $3.95 and $10.95; dinner, $14.95 to $22.95; and desserts, $3.50. The downtown restaurant boasts that customers enjoy "fine dining in a casual atmosphere."

Opened three months ago, the Main Street Tower in Bel Air has become a hit with customers.

Serving American fare with an Italian twist, the restaurant offers tower chicken, prepared with chicken breast, lump crab meat and shrimp in a white cream sauce. It also serves steak and pasta, along with other dishes.

Customers are also given the choice of rooftop dining and live music Tuesdays and Fridays. A light lunch costs about $7 while entrees can run into the mid-$20 range.

The Tower's main dining room is under construction and will open this month.

If you like casual dining, the Silver Spring Mining Company may have what you're looking for, says Chris Isaac, the restaurant's regional manager.

The menu includes burgers, sandwiches and salads. The most-requested entrees are sour beef and potato dumplings (a recipe dating back about 50 years to the Silver Spring Inn in Baltimore County, which later became the Silver Spring Mining Company), the Maryland crab pretzel and baby back ribs.

For those who eat on-the-go, the restaurant offers a "priority lunch," featuring four different daily express meals ranging from $4.99 to $8.95. Dinner entrees cost between $8.99 and $17.99.

Silver Spring Mining Company caters large group events and promotes a sport bar with four large-screen televisions on which customers can watch the Ravens during football season.

Also in Bel Air is Uncle George's, on Bond Street.

For the past 23 years, the family-owned restaurant has offered its patrons a variety of food and a friendly atmosphere.

"We're one of the few family-run restaurants out here [in Harford County], and our business is all word-of-mouth. We don't advertise," says Tony Sfikas, who owns the restaurant along with his uncle George, for whom it is named.

The food at Uncle George's is good and affordable. Lunch runs about $5 while dinner entrees cost between $12 and $13. Seafood, including fried shrimp and crab legs and chicken Chesapeake - chicken breast with crab imperial - are among the restaurant's many menu items.

The restaurant includes a ballroom that seats up to 200 people. The restaurant seats about 175 people.

"Our food is excellent," said Sfikas.

Northwest of Bel Air is the Madonna House Restaurant, a country, laid-back place to dine. And no, the Material Girl hasn't been seen at the place, says Donna Hellman, president of the restaurant.

"This is horse country," she said. "It has nothing to do with her."

Patrons can enjoy a breakfast for $3.95 to $7.95. Lunch can run from $3.25 for a garden salad to $10.95 for the homemade shrimp salad. Hellman says the establishment doesn't serve liquor, but patrons can bring their own.

A quick drive north on Interstate 95 puts you in Aberdeen, home of baseball great Cal Ripken. The New Ideal Diner, a comfortable place to grab a bite to eat, also calls the community home.

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