Seeing change: They come, they go



Change happens, even in Little Italy. A neighborhood whose restaurants used to be solidly southern Italian now boasts India Rasoi, a crab house (Mo's) and a seafood restaurant (yet another Mo's).

The latest example of Little Italy's diversity comes with the recent opening of Petalo's (1002 Eastern Ave., 410-685-0055), where Luigi Petti used to be.

The owners are Rebecca and Sam Hassan, who also run the Afghan Kabob Cafe downtown. You can get traditional Italian food (Petalo's has two Italian chefs, Sam Hassan tells me), but there are also Mediterranean dishes like kebabs and American entrees like crab cakes, rack of lamb, lobster and rib-eye steak.

The interior has been renovated, and the restaurant still has one of the best outdoor eating areas in Little Italy.

STILL MORE CHANGE --Brasserie Tatin (105 W. 39th St., Homewood, 443-278-9110) has a new executive chef, Stephan Blaser, who's Swiss, not French. His new menu reflects the change: It includes both traditional French dishes and a broader contemporary European cuisine.

"Roddy [Domacasse, the former chef] had issues with his health. We were all ready for a change," said Gayle Brier, one of Tatin's partners, who added that she's gained 10 pounds sampling Blaser's new menu.

Blaser is using Tatin's wood-fired oven for more than just pizza. He cooks whole joints of meat in it and cures his own salmon.

I asked Brier to name a signature dish from the spring menu, and she chose the hazelnut-encrusted rockfish with a red-wine reduction/sweet-onion marmalade.

GOURMET TO GO IS GONE --Noah's on the Side, a fine-dining-to-take-home and catering company in Ellicott City, has closed. The business, just a little more than a year old, was very successful, says owner Russell Braitsch, but two things made the decision easier. He and his wife, Sharon, were working "20-hour days," and they couldn't get the financing they needed to grow.

Braitsch is going to work for Jason Ambrose at Salt, the popular little bistro near Patterson Park. Ambrose was Braitsch's sous-chef at Gardel's, the supper club north of Little Italy, when it first opened.

"It'll be nice to be working together again," Braitsch said.

LONGO'S CLOSED ... BUT NOT FOR LONG --Owner/chef Nancy Longo of Longo's (2360 Joppa Road, Lutherville, 410-339-7717) told me over the phone that she's in the process of taking over the whole restaurant from her business partner, Andrew Silverman.

With the liquor-license transfer came a new health inspection. A plumbing problem has to be fixed (and a floor ripped up) before the restaurant can reopen, probably next week.

Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore, MD 21278.

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