When I think back on the Greek restaurants that have opened and closed north of the city (and there haven't been many of them), I think the new Grapevine Cafe (20 Church Lane, 410-667-0010) in Cockeysville may be on the right track. It's offering something for everyone.
There are the usual suspects on the menu: stuffed grape leaves, spanakopita, pastitsio and roast leg of lamb, Greek style. But there are just as many American dishes, from a crab cake to a New York strip. Entree prices run from $13 to $28. Grapevine has a neat little wine list, a children's menu, sandwiches and salads, and, of course, baklava for dessert.
When I asked co-owner Jim Wolle if the decor is contemporary, he said, "That's what I tried to stay away from completely." He went for warm earth tones rather than the traditional blue and white.
"I leave that for Greektown."
Tabrizi's redux --In the mid '90s, Michael Tabrizi left Tabrizi's, his Mediterranean restaurant in Federal Hill. (It eventually became Corks.) He vacationed for a year in Europe, then returned to the Baltimore area to work as a private chef for the next three years. Eventually, he left the business and started his own dot.com company. Now he's back.
"I was born with a gift for cooking," he told me over the phone. "I got that from my mom. There wasn't enough creativity for me in [the Internet business]."
He looked for a new location for two years, finally deciding on the space at 500 Harborview Drive where many restaurants have come and gone. If anyone can make that location work, it should be Tabrizi. His first restaurant was very successful, and the new one will have a similar combination of southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Look for the new, improved Tabrizi's to open in early August. (With the usual disclaimer that restaurants rarely open on schedule.)
Shuffleboard, anyone? --Della Rose's Tavern in White Marsh now has a second location in Canton (1501 S. Clinton St., 410-522-7104). Manager Luke Tiernan says he thinks it looks like a Chicago steakhouse, and he describes it as "a good Baltimore bar."
Keep an eye out for its daily specials like wings night on Tuesdays, the pasta bar on Thursday nights and steak nights on Saturday. And, yes, you can play shuffleboard there.
Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.