Organic Dishes With Pizzazz


At Pizzazz Tuscan Grille, Healthy Versions Of Pizza, Pasta Are On The Menu

July 29, 2009|By ELIZABETH LARGE

Who knew that Baltimore was hungry for a pizza and pasta place that was health-conscious, locally sourced and organic when possible?

Pizzazz Tuscan Grille (711 Eastern Ave., 410-528-7772), in the Pier V Hotel but independently operated, has been a hit since it opened last month. At breakfast free-range eggs, soy sausage, turkey bacon, green smoothies and a wheat grass shot are on the menu - but also bananas Foster crepes and eggs Benedict. Later in the day you can get an Italian cold cut sandwich but also a Get the Glow Raw Wrap or a black bean vegan burger.

If you don't feel like a thin-crust pizza with Italian sausage, try one of the signature dishes, spinach fettucini primavera, with fresh English peas (shelled in the kitchen), asparagus, baby carrots and cold-pressed olive oil. There's even a gluten-free pizza.

You get the idea.

"It's how I cook at home," says owner Deanna Cook, who is into nutrition and special diets. "I want people to be refreshed and delighted when they leave, not heavy and overstuffed."

Her partner, Pietro Priola, is a native of Sicily, and much of the menu reflects that. But not all. Their chef, Kiet Philavanh, is Thai, so the specials menu often has Asian dishes on it.

Organic and "biodynamic" wines are also featured.

Prices are excellent for food that's nutrient-dense and often organic. Each entree has a small or large option, so the pasta primavera, for instance, is priced at $7 and $10. The most expensive dish is the grilled shrimp, tuna and scallop kebab on summer couscous with mint for $20.

Events at the restaurant, like the "pure food dinners" (often with mostly raw food), have been very popular.

Pizzazz is open every day from 6 a.m. (7 a.m. on the weekend) till midnight.

New chef at Alizee : This seems to be the day for news about restaurants in hotels. Alizee Boutique Bistro & Wine Bar in the Inn at the Colonnade will have a new executive chef starting in mid-August.

Christian deLutis, a well-known figure around these parts who has worked in the kitchens of the now-closed Hampton's, Corks, the Wine Market and most recently Dogwood, will be changing things up a bit; and that's probably a good thing. Alizee, new this year, has gotten mixed reviews so far. Under deLutis, the food will be American with a French accent.

Good works : And speaking of Dogwood, the Hampden restaurant is known not only for its good food but also for its good works. The restaurant's owners, Galen and Bridget Sampson, have helped former drug users and convicts find jobs with their culinary training program since they opened their restaurant and deli three years ago.

Now their nonprofit culinary training program has found a home in what was once the Woman's Industrial Exchange dining room at 333 N. Charles St.

Dogwood took over the space and has been serving lunch there since last December, but the name has now been officially changed to Plates Cafe and Catering. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Next-gen diner : I wonder if it's some sort of trend that "green" and health-conscious restaurants are opening up in unexpected forms. First a pizza and pasta place, and now a diner.

The new Metro Silver Diner in the Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole has a menu using organic, local ingredients and zero-trans-fat oils with heart-healthy options. (Hard to imagine a good, greasy diner cheeseburger platter that would fit that bill.) The diner also uses biodegradable, compostable and sustainable packaging.

The diner is part of the Silver Diner chain, but this is only the second of what the chain calls "next generation" diners. The first opened last year in Fairfax, Va.

Free wi-fi and touch-screen ordering are also available.

The Deal of the Week

Where: Taverna Corvino, 1117 S. Charles St., Federal Hill

The Deal: Winesday, five wines for $15 wine tasting

When: Wednesdays, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Call: 410-727-1212

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