Maria D's lives up to first impression



September 08, 2004|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

You can't judge a sub shop at a glance, but somehow I got all the right vibes when I ventured into Maria D's for the first time recently.

Not only was it a clean, well-lighted space, it had the right greasy smell - baking pizza and cheese steaks on the grill.

The menu boasts that Maria D's has been churning out subs and pizzas since 1978, well before Federal Hill began its upward trajectory. These days, Maria D's is surrounded by trendy bars and restaurants turning out Thai cuisine and sushi.

But Maria D's is sticking to the basics and attracts a steady stream of neighborhood patrons. Open late, it no doubt does good business when the bars in the area start emptying out.

The restaurant is decorated with landscapes of Greece, including a large one of the Parthenon that dominates the main dining area. In a back room are three old video slot machines - for amusement only, of course.

Service was pleasant and extremely efficient.

As we tucked into the food, my positive first impression turned out to be right on the money. With one minor exception, everything we had provided exactly what we were looking for.

A small pepperoni pizza ($7.95) was made with good mozzarella and sauce over a thick crust, with salty slices of pepperoni.

A small cheese steak ($4.95) had an enormous amount of shredded beef, while a quarter-pound hamburger was an economical pleasure at $2.95.

We loved the chicken gyro ($5.45), which came with marinated pieces of meat mixed with lots of diced fresh tomato and onion, smothered in a delicious tzatziki sauce, all wrapped inside a warm pita. It was certainly one of the best I've had in many months of trying carry-outs.

A Greek salad ($5.45) had a pile of sliced veggies and lettuce, as well as a huge square slab of feta cheese. We weren't too thrilled by the fish in the fish and chips ($4.65), but the accompanying fries were cooked just right.

Cakes, rice pudding and baklava are on the dessert menu. Chocolate cake ($2.35), which was made in-house, was no award winner, but disappeared quickly nonetheless.

As for parking, it's Federal Hill, so be patient.

Maria D's Sub Shop

Food: ***

Service: *** 1/2

Waiting area: ***

Parking: * 1/2

Where: 1016 S. Light St., Federal Hill

Phone: 410-727-5430

Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Prices: Subs, salads, crab cakes, sandwiches and pizza, from $1.75 to $17.65; no credit cards

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