Phat Pug serves up coal-oven pizza


October 17, 2007|By ELIZABETH LARGE

Michael DePasquale Jr. has three pugs, and pugs like to eat, so naturally -- he says -- he named his new coal-fired pizzeria in Perry Hall Phat Pug (8841A Bel Air Road).

As far as I know, it's the area's first and only pizza cooked in a coal oven, which produces a hotter fire and a crispier crust. People seem to love it. DePasquale, flush with the success of his new venture, says he's going to expand "from here to Miami." He's already started, with plans to open Phat Pugs in Federal Hill on Fort Avenue and Fells Point, either on Thames Street or off Broadway, in the next couple of months.

Phat Pug specializes in thin Neapolitan-style pizzas made with DePasquale's "secret" dough and sauce recipes. Besides the usual varieties of pizza, he has a three-cheese (Asiago, mozzarella and ricotta); a meat eater's pizza with pepperoni, ground beef, sausage and steak; and the popular "Healthy Pug Pie" with peppers, portobellos, tomatoes, onions and grilled chicken. Pizzas run from $10.95 to $18.95. Phat Pug's hours are 11 a.m.-4 a.m. daily.

Soup's on --It took a long time for Angela and William Thompson to open their Bouillabaisse Cafe at 316 Park Ave. They didn't have the money to pay for contractors, so they did the renovation of the building, which had been vacant for 15 years, themselves.

Angela makes the soups (sample menu: chicken-dumpling soup, chili, 16-bean soup) while her husband, she says, is in charge of sandwiches, of which there aren't many. By the way, in spite of the name, bouillabaisse isn't regularly available.

Inside, the cafe has a trendy look, with recessed lighting, hardwood floors, black tables and chairs, and mustard-colored walls decorated with the works of local artists. Don't be surprised by the Asian facade. The couple got a city grant to redo the exterior, and it's meant to look as if it's part of Baltimore's "Chinatown."

The Bouillabaisse Cafe is open daily 10 a.m.-8 p.m., but Angela is trying to persuade her husband to close Mondays. "We do have two children," she says, laughing.

Opening soon ... maybe --I called to get an update on Meli, the third restaurant in the Kali's Court group that was supposed to open this summer at 1640 Thames St. It didn't, but apparently the owners then were planning on an end-of-October opening. It turns out they still are waiting for restaurant equipment. They promise to call as soon as there's a definite date, so stay tuned.

I haven't been able to track down the latest on the space that was Vespa (1117 S. Charles St.) and is supposed to reopen as a wine bar with an undisclosed name; but I do know that Mike Russell, who will be the chef, has given notice where he now works, Donna's in Cross Keys, so that's a hopeful sign.

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 21278.

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