Donna's ready to make a night of it

TABLE TALK

June 14, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

Donna's Charles Village has just gotten gussied up. A liquor license, new chef, new dinner menu and a new look, and this girl is ready to take on the night. That's the aim of owners Donna Crivello and Alan Hirsch.

"People's tastes are changing. Alan and I wanted to bring up the quality of the food at night, make it fun, more interesting. More than just a coffee bar. More a cafe or restaurant," says Crivello.

"In Charles Village, it seemed to be the right spot to do that."

Crivello gives a lot of credit to new chef Andy Thomas. While she and Hirsch wanted to keep some of the core items Donna's is known for -- like its roasted vegetables -- Crivello says Thomas ramped up the dinner menu and came up with more bistro-style food, like a mac and cheese small plate made with three cheeses, cavatappi pasta and truffle oil ($5.95). Other small plates include lamb kebabs with minted yogurt sauce ($7.95) and sauteed shrimp on crostini with a tomato cilantro sauce ($6.95). There are entree items like goat cheese ravioli with garlic brown butter, topped with arugula salad ($16.95); crispy roast chicken with asparagus and roasted potatoes in a lemon-thyme sauce ($15.95); and grilled salmon with zucchini "spaghetti," grape tomatoes and basil beurre blanc ($16.95). And Crivello says the menu will change seasonally. Not to worry. You'll still find Donna's classic casual fare, including several types of burgers, salads and sandwiches. And, of course, her famed coffee drinks.

The interior also has been redesigned. Crivello says they wanted to warm up the old exposed brick and metal look, and add some sleekness. Now you'll see touches of a "warm Dijon mustard color and papaya" about the place, she says. There's also the addition of a black granite bar that seats about five. All the tables are black granite as well, accompanied by black chairs. Even the servers were ramped up a bit, with their old Donna's shirts replaced by long bistro aprons.

"You can still get carryout and come in for your morning coffee," Crivello says. "But now you can get a nice dinner, too."

You'll find Donna's Charles Village, 410-889-3410, at 3101 St. Paul St. Hours are 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Moving west

Meanwhile, another popular local restaurant team is moving to greener pastures, in a manner of speaking. Like Oregon. Husband/chef Barry Rumsey and wife Deborah Mazzoleni sold their popular Bicycle restaurant in February with talk of looking to open a new place somewhere closer to their Stoneleigh home. But they've decided to really follow their dream and move to Hood River, Ore.

"It's a complete lifestyle change for us. It's where we've been looking for a while," explains Mazzoleni.

Why Hood River? It's a small town of 5,000, about an hour from Portland. Rumsey and Mazzoleni say that will be great for their children, 5 and 11. And ...

"It's known for its windsurfing, kayaking, bicycling, sailing and skiing. It's at the base of Mount Hood. A big focus of our lives has always been being outdoors and doing outdoor sports," Mazzoleni says.

Which is exactly how their popular Federal Hill bistro got its name.

Not that the two are leaving the restaurant biz behind. Mazzoleni says they've bought an existing restaurant there, right on the Columbia River. They're putting in a "very casual venue" and naming it Wild Ginger.

"We're going to miss everybody in Baltimore. Life just unfolded this way," she says.

If you have information regarding a local restaurant's opening, closing or major changes, please e-mail that information to sloane@sloanebrown.com or fax it to 410-675-3451.

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