Good points keep stacking up at the Hudson Street Stackhouse


July 31, 2008|By SAM SESSA

The DeSantis family has another hit bar on its hands.

The new Hudson Street Stackhouse, owned by son Dominic DeSantis, brings together the industrial feel of a warehouse and the warm, welcoming atmosphere of your favorite corner bar. The Stackhouse, which sits right across the street from the old Can Co., is ruggedly beautiful. Toss in a quality beer selection and keen bartenders, and you've got one of the city's best new bars.

But that shouldn't come as a surprise. Owning top-notch neighborhood bars is in DeSantis' blood. His brother Damion owns Dego Dames in Little Italy, his father Richard runs DeSantis Pizza and his grandfather and great-grandfather owned the Venice Tavern in Highlandtown - before Dominic bought it.

The Stackhouse is a tasteful marriage of old and new Baltimore. The acid-washed concrete floor, pressed-tin ceiling tiles and stained concrete bar top echo the area's working-class past. Pieces of Baltimore's history are scattered throughout the inside of the Stackhouse.

Look for the old wood table which reads "American Can Co." A long time ago, it was used as a back bar at the Venice Tavern.

Local sculptor David Hess helped design the steel island with the beer taps behind the bar, and welded shelves for the back bar from real cannery equipment. But there's also six flat-screen TVs on the walls, and a sleek steel sign hanging outside.

One suggestion for DeSantis: Put some lights outside to better mark the bar. The sign suits the place, but since the Stackhouse is in the middle of the block, it's easy to mistake it for someone's home.

Patrons can pick from 12 good draft beers (standards like Guinness and Pabst and lesser-known ones, such as Leffe) and about 40 bottles from the menu. There are about 10 wines on the list, and also the hard-to-find Lindemans Framboise lambic, a raspberry beer. The beers go from $2.25 for the cheapest to $20 for Kwak Belgian Ale, the most expensive bottle, which was out of my price range.

DeSantis drew inspiration for the beer list from his sister Dyana, who worked at the old Sean Bolan's in Federal Hill. Before Bolan's moved out to Bel Air, it was known as one of the best beer bars in town.

While the Stackhouse doesn't have quite the same beer-drinking culture or atmosphere, it could give the nearby Mahaffey's Pub a run for its money.

I started with a lip-smacking Scottish ale called SkullSplitter (8.5 percent alcohol and cost $5). Great beer, but too heavy for the first one of the night. A bottle of BaltoMarzHon, up next, was more my speed.

The service might be the Stackhouse's most stunning aspect. The bartenders kept our glasses full, and, when we needed it, gave us some advice on what to try. This would be par for the course in Washington or Philadelphia, but it's a novelty here. Either way, I enjoyed it while I was there.

In the next few months, DeSantis plans to get the kitchen up and running and expand the hours some. It's hoped he'll have a home at the Stackhouse for years to come.

The Hudson Street Stackhouse is at 2624 Hudson St. Hours are 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays and 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Call 410-342-0592.

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