Owners all set to give new life to Pazza Luna

TABLE TALK

February 28, 2007|By SLOANE BROWN

Maybe three times proves a charm. You've got to think that must be what Riccardo Bosio is hoping for his new restaurant, Pazza Luna. He and partners chef Gianfranco Fracassetti and manager Joe NoCon are the third set of owners for the Italian spot in Locust Point.

Longtime Pazza Luna owner Kim Acton sold the place in 2005. Then the new owners shut the doors last summer.

You may recognize Bosio's name. He also owns the upscale Italian eatery Sotto Sopra in Mount Vernon. But don't assume Pazza Luna will be another version of the same. "It's more trattoria-style food and cheaper than Sotta Sopra," Bosio says.

Think hearty Italian peasant food. Not American Italian like before, he says. With chef Fracassetti at the helm - only seven years out of Italy himself - they've assembled what Bosio calls a small menu of some traditional Italian dishes and some a little more "unexpected."

There are eight pasta choices, such as vegetarian lasagna made with porcini mushrooms, squash, spinach and ricotta ($14); linguine tossed with clams in a fresh tomato-and-white-wine sauce ($19); and house-made black pepper-and-rosemary-infused fettuccine, tossed with sausage, red grapes, arugula and goat cheese in a white-wine sauce ($16).

The entree list has about five choices, including marinated and grilled New York strip ($24); oven-roasted lamb shank over risotto with berries ($20); roast chicken with mushrooms, red peppers, potatoes and onion ($17); and pan-seared fresh rainbow trout in a white wine, fresh tomato and caper sauce ($18). Bosio says the menu is small because the kitchen is small, but there will be plenty of daily specials, too.

As far as the interior goes, you'll notice some major changes when you walk in the front door. Bosio says they've renovated the first floor. There are now stucco walls, hardwood floors and modern halogen lighting in red and apricot.

The large chef's table is gone. The bar is the same, but the bar back has been modernized. There's seating downstairs for about 18 at tables, and 10 at the bar. Bosio says the entire restaurant is now nonsmoking. Folks who have fond memories of Pazza Luna need not worry. Just head upstairs. Bosio et al. have left the main dining room as it was - "romantic and homey."

Pazza Luna, 410-962-1212, is at 1401 E. Clement St. It should be open by this weekend. Its hours - like the menu - will depend on its customers. But Bosio says the restaurant will start out opening from 11:30 a.m. to "whenever" Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to "whenever" Saturday and 4:30 p.m. to "whenever" Sunday.

Those "whenevers" will change to more definite hours when Bosio and his partners get an idea of what the flow is like. He says they also will start out offering valet parking ($5) seven nights a week.

Abacrombie sold

Many of Baltimore's gourmands consider Abacrombie restaurant one of the city's hidden treasures. Now comes word that the chef/owner, Sonny Sweetman, has sold the place. Sweetman says he's going to work for his old boss, Horst Schultze, who has started a new upscale hotel chain, Capella Hotels. Sweetman is going to be chef de cuisine for the first one, the Schloss Velden, a lakeside hotel in the Austrian Alps.

Abacrombie fans need not worry. Sweetman says Larry Porter, the new owner, plans to keep the name Abacrombie, as well as the current menu. Sweetman's sous-chef, Michael Putnam, is the new executive chef.

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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