You walk up to the display case, where you examine all sorts of fresh fish and seafood. You make your pick. You choose how you'd like it cooked - broiled, fried or grilled - and, perhaps, what kind of sauce you'd like with it. You choose two side dishes. Ten minutes later, your meal is delivered to you.
Are you at one of Baltimore's finest seafood restaurants? You could be. But you could also be at Parkville's newest seafood place, Conrad's Crabs & Seafood Market. Obviously, not your usual seafood market.
Much of that has to do with the family history of Tony Conrad, who owns the place with Michael Dellis (who also owns Michael's Cafe in Timonium) and seafood wholesaler Frank Petillo.
The Parkville native says his great-great-great-grandmother steamed crabs for men who built the railroad line from Richmond, Va., to Washington, D.C. In 1947, a cousin opened a legendary seafood restaurant on the Potomac River in Southern Maryland, now known as Captain Billy's, which is still in the family.
Conrad himself couldn't break free of the genetic call to the sea. After years of working in the white-collar world, he says he decided to do what he really loved: be a waterman.
When the space that had been the Joppa Seafood Market went up for sale last year, Conrad, Dellis and Petillo decided to combine their knowledge and skills and make it a market with an edge. If you're curious about just how fresh the seafood is, there's a good chance you can ask the guy who caught it.
Conrad's offers a full menu. There are appetizers, like chicken tenders ($5.50); crab bruschetta ($9); Old Bay fries ($2); and hush puppies ($3.50). On the soup side, you'll find Maryland crab ($3 to $5); crab and corn chowder ($4 to $6.50); and a soup du jour (priced daily). Sandwiches include crab cake ($10.50) and New England lobster roll ($10.50).
You'll find entrees such as crab imperial ($13.50); sea scallops ($12.50); or any of those fresh fish selections (market priced). Steamed crabs and raw-bar items are based on availability and market priced.
Conrad's is just a carryout now. But Andrea Conrad - who runs the market with Tony, her husband - says the group hopes to expand the business to include a restaurant within the next couple of years.
Conrad's Crabs & Seafood Market, 410-882-1515, is at 1720 E. Joppa Road. It's open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
One of Pikesville's newest eateries has expanded its menu. Fusions Grill opened on Reisterstown Road about four months ago in the space formerly occupied by Strapazza. Co-owner Joe Ushinski says in that time, he and partners Johnny Vaughan and Behnam Sarfarazi have gotten a better idea of what their customers want.
"More fish. More vegetarian," he says. So folks will find items like a fresh mozzarella bruschetta ($6.95), caramelized-onion-and-parmesan-cheese toast ($5.95) and garlic shrimp ($7.95) on the appetizer menu.
New entrees also include a few meat choices - all of them antibiotic-free - such as rack of lamb ($29); fiery orange chicken stir-fry ($19); and salmon cakes ($17).
The sandwich list boasts new vegetarian options like Italian hot veggie ciabatta with marinara sauce, parmesan and provolone cheeses ($6.95); and green apple, alfalfa sprouts, carrot slices, onion and cheddar cheese on multigrain bread ($6.95).
Ushinski describes the decor as contemporary, to go with Fusions' organic/environmentally friendly food theme.
Fusions, 410-753-3001, is at 1330 Reisterstown Road. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
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