Good Italian dishes, more


Aida has fast, efficient service


October 30, 2002|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Aida, which sits in an office park on the eastern fringes of Columbia, has a split personality.

On the one hand, it is a slightly upscale and very good Italian restaurant with a top-notch wine list.

On the other, it is a reasonably priced, and also very good, Italian deli/carryout.

Located ominously next to a Weight Watchers outlet, Aida's carryout has an industrial-chic appearance -- bare concrete floor, exposed ducts and wiring, and groovy small, purple lamps hanging down over a few tables. Van Gogh posters (why not Michelangelo?) soften the ambience a bit.

Aida features a good number of Italian dishes (some with cute names) and salads, as well as some old standards such as fish and chips and Philly cheese steaks.

The service couldn't have been nicer or more efficient, and our large order was ready in a few minutes.

Giuseppe's gorgonzola salad ($5.95) included a good portion of crumbled cheese over mixed greens, accompanied by tart apple slices and spiced almonds. With a surprisingly tasty low-fat raspberry vinaigrette, it was a strong effort.

The Maryland crab soup ($4.95) was delicious -- a tangy tomato base loaded with shredded crab, corn, peas and cabbage, with none of the grease that many beef-based crab soups are saddled with.

The "Roma Loves Mozza" sandwich ($5.50) featured, naturally, mozzarella cheese, sliced Roma tomatoes, basil and spices on focaccia -- all fresh ingredients that worked well together. A chicken Caesar wrap ($5.25) was perfectly fine, if not special -- combining chicken salad and Parmigiano cheese in a rolled tortilla.

More interesting was the chicken sandwich supreme ($5.95). This curious creation combined sliced grilled chicken breast and pancetta, with melted mozzarella, drenched in a tasty barbecue sauce, all on focaccia. Somehow it all worked.

The Aida deli dessert menu changes often. We had tiramisu ($6.95), which was a bit pricey but a nice concoction with a hint of liquor.

Aida is a bit off the beaten path in the Gateway Plaza, but once you find it, there's plenty of parking.

Aida Deli

Food: * * *

Service: * * * *

Waiting area: * * *

Parking: * * *

Where: 7185 A Gateway Drive, Columbia

Phone: 410-953-0500

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday

Prices: Salads, sandwiches and wraps from $4.95 to $6.95; credit cards accepted

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