Table Talk: Grilled Cheese & Co. opens in Catonsville

The simple idea behind this new fast, casual restaurant is that grilled cheese makes people happy

  • The Veggie Delight sandwich at Grilled Cheese & Co. features Havarti cheese with roasted vegetables, sauteed wild mushrooms and olive spread.
The Veggie Delight sandwich at Grilled Cheese & Co. features… (Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore…)
April 07, 2010|By Richard Gorelick | Special to The Baltimore Sun

When some kids grow up, they don't play school or play house — instead, they play fast-casual restaurant franchise concept.

It's a fun game, and you can play it while you're driving in traffic or out on the golf course, which is where Matthew Lancelotta and Victor Corbi worked out the concept that developed into Grilled Cheese & Co. (500 Edmonson Ave., 410-747-2610, ilovegrilledcheese.com), which opened Monday in Catonsville. Their simple driving idea (no pun intended) is that grilled cheese makes people happy.

Lancelotta and Corbi brought in Matthew's brother, James Lancelotta, a chef who has worked in Baltimore at Della Notte, at Mango's in Bethany Beach, Del., and, more recently at a dude ranch in Colorado. The opening menu features, naturally, a signature grilled cheese sandwich, but according to James Lancelotta, the other eight or so panini-press sandwiches will feature much more hot, melted cheese than other places put on them.

The emphasis here, as at successful fast-casual places like Panera and Chipotle, is on freshness and quality. But I think it would be a mistake to come expecting a gourmet or "foodie" experience. The primary audience for Grilled Cheese and Co. is families.

Last week, James Lancelotta was less interested in talking about the expansion plans for Grilled Cheese and Co. than in just getting the first one open. Sandwich prices range from $4.50 to $7.50, and the menu's sandwiches and soups are similarly priced. (Yes, there is a tomato soup.)

Grilled Cheese and Co. is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

Mother's Day Taking your mother out to a crowded restaurant brunch, I think, is not entirely free of malice — "I sure hope this is making you happy, Mom, because it's making us miserable." I like the idea, though, of making brunch for your mother. Donna Crivello is devoting the May 5 edition of her Wednesday night demonstration class to Mother's Day Brunch. Cooking with Donna Mediterranean Style is held most every Wednesday night at the Donna's Columbia location (5850 Waterloo Road, 410-465-2399,donnas.com). The $45 sessions include wine and tastings of prepared food. For class information, call 410-659-5248 or follow links on the Web site.

I love even better the idea of actually taking a Mother's Day cooking class with mom herself. Pierpoint's Nancy Longo has been giving small Sunday afternoon cooking classes in her Fells Point restaurant since 2007, and the May 2 edition is a Mother's Day class, which will include hands-on demonstrations in boullabaisse, summer appetizers and creative salads. The classes tend to fill quickly, so advance planning is recommended, which is why we're bringing it up now. Nothing says "I Love You" like advance planning. If that class is booked, then a gift certificate to any of the hands-on Sunday classes would work just as well. Longo's Thai cooking classes are in particular high demand, and the next one of those is May 30. The Sunday afternoon classes are $75 and go from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 pm. Pierpoint is at 1822 Aliceanna St. Call 410-675-2080 or go to pierpointrestaurant.com.

The Pig arrives Honey Pig 2 (10045 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City), really did open April 1. Really. With its corrugated steel design and youthful staff, the 24-hour Korean barbecue joint is poised to shake up a somewhat conservative Howard County dining scene. The dogged blogger known as HowChow stayed right on top of Honey Pig's progress until the opening day, which saw half-hour waits for tables. "I'm excited because it's supposed to have great barbecue and a young, hip vibe," HowChow said," and the suburbs can use all of the young, hip vibe it can get." The phone number is still elusive, though.

Got ‘Reservations'? Those $250 VIP tickets for the May 22 No Reservations Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert at the Hippodrome? They were just about gone at press time. And the $89 tickets for admission to the show and the post-show Foodie Experience event featuring food and wine from area restaurants? The Hippodrome released an additional 200 of them last weekend, a sign of brisk sales. The basic tickets, which range from $29 to $49, are still in good supply. Call 410-837-7400.

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