Baltimore: Charm City Food Tour of Little Italy

Sandwich

In Baltimore, Charm City Food Tours facilitates a little history, a little walking and a good amount of tasting when you sign up to take one of their tours. I chose to take the Little Italy tour and found that this was not your canned variety food tour. The itinerary brought some unexpected stops, good conversation pieces, and most of all, a real personality to a place that might be seen as an enigma to those looking from the outside into an area rich with history and culture.Sandwich rye

On the day of my tour, there was an intimate group of four, which included our tour guide, Gordon. The small group was a result of the hurricane-like weather that hit Maryland and took out power to so many. I had no power in my home either, but I decided that rather than sweating it out at home, I would sweat it out on the tour where I anticipated I could get pockets of air conditioning and good Italian food. So imagine my surprise when I found out that our first stop on the Little Italy tour was not in Little Italy, and the food was not Italian but Jewish. Intriguing.

Just a few paces away from Little Italy, the food tour started in the Jonestown area, which was settled by David Jones in the 1700’s. People may be more familiar with David Jones in conjunction with the area now known as the Jones Falls. Although Jonestown was home to a lot of influential and wealthy people, the tides changed as more immigrants made their way into the area. Some of those immigrants were-you guessed it- Italians. However, they weren’t the only ones. Jonestown also became home to Irish and Jewish immigrants as well. In 1915, one of those Jewish families established a Baltimore landmark, which is located on Corned Beef Row, a New York delicatessen called Attman’s .

Attmans Delicatessen is renowned, and the pictures on the walls tell the story of its journey throughout the years. Foodies from near and far have been coming to Attmans for generation upon generation for its legendary comfort food. So was I bummed when I found out we were going to Attman’s? Heck no! I knew that there was a pastrami sandwich with my name on it somewhere in the vicinity. Our group, sat down at a reserved table where we were given potato knishes, coddies and a New York pastrami sandwich on rye. The pastrami was piled high, and with or without the mustard, you couldn’t go wrong. Not to be Debbie Downer, but I wasn’t that impressed with the potato knishes-they were a little bland and not especially warm. Nonetheless, two out of three is not bad. The coddies were definitely a score.

flag_houseMoving along on the tour, we took in a bit of American history as we passed the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum. What makes this museum so special is the fact that this was the home of seamstress Mary Pickersgill. This is where she made the flag that inspired the poem which is now our national anthem. Although, the actual flag is not located on the premises a full-scale replica can be seen on the back of the building.

As we moseyed across the threshold of Little Italy, it was pasta time. So what restaurant would we go to for this amazing pasta? The place is called Frank Vellagia’s Casa di Pasta, and it is not a restaurant but a supplier. This is where many a restaurant and local goes to

We made our way into a cozy little area right outside the bar. I don’t do bars, and I don’t drink so clearly I was out of my element. So on the beverage side, the most I can do is tell you about my killer cranberry juice and let you know that the couple on my tour seemed to really enjoy their wine selections. On the side of a non-drinker, I would say that Amedeo‘s does have a chill factor which lends to a nice relaxed time to converse with friends, drink cranberry juice and eat a delightful proscuitto and mozzarella panini. That’s what I did.

Finally, we made it to the end of the tour-and thank you Charm City Food Tours-you saved the best for last. Dessert! Now I do have to admit to a bit of assumption because in the beginning of the tour I just assumed I was going to have an end-of-tour cannoli (which I love)from Vaccaro’s. Thank the Lord, Jesus Christ, they were more original than that.

I feel like I’m indebted to Charm City Food Tours because I had the best tiramasu I have ever tasted at Piedigrotta Italian Bakery and Pastry Shop. Gordon gave us teasers throughout the tour, letting us know about Piedigrotta owner Carminantonio Iannaccone claims of being the inventor of tiramisu. All in our group dismissed it right away, thinking surely this dessert has been around longer than this man has been alive and why would the inventor of tiramisu live in Baltimore? (Not knocking Baltimore but, it just didn‘t seem likely). Nonetheless, our tour guide was nothing if not resourceful and investigative. It seems Gordon did some research and

it appears that Mr.Iannaccone may not be just whistling Dixie.

In short, I don’t know, but you can read all about his claim on the Piedigrotta website. Here’s an even better idea, just drop by and ask him yourself. He’s sure to have a story to tell and you can listen to it while you are drinking a darn good cup of cappuccino with possibly the best tiramisu you will taste in your life.

Charm City Food Tours operate other Baltimore tours Fells Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon. For more information about the tours in Baltimore and in sister cities, click here.

 

This article can also be found on the Baltimore Ethnic Restaurants Examiner page.

get their fresh handmade pasta. We had a sampling of the tortellini with Bolognese sauce and you could instantly taste the difference in the quality as compared to other products that come from your grocer’s freezer. The consistency of the tortellini, the freshness of the pasta, the delicious lumps of beef in the Bolognese and the sharpness of the tomatoes in the sauce were all formidable. You can pick up your choice of sauces and pasta at their location.

Though we were not quite done chowing down, we reached the midway point at Ciao Bella! More than anything, the best part about our visit meatballto Ciao Bella was the friendly outgoing staff. Executive Chef Gary Hawkins came out to introduce himself and served us a hearty hand-rolled meatball on toasted bread. The meatball was made with beef, pork, fresh garlic and basil. It was not at all overbearing, but enough to satisfy.

On our way to the next location we spotted the tree-lined bocce ball court at D’Allesandro Park. Gordon, our Charm City Food tour guide, told us that the reason why the trees were planted was to provide a little shade for the elder Italian residents who refuse to get air-conditioning. Well, this way they can catch a bit of shade and when the sun goes down they will have the perfect spot to catch a bocce ball game or two.

Our next stop is perfect for those of you who are “too cool for school.” It’s a corner wine bar called Osteria Da Amedeo’s. Laidback is a good way to describe it, but it also has that feel that if too many people find out about its existence the cool points will go down

We made our way into a cozy little area right outside the bar. I don’t do bars, and I don’t drink so clearly I was out of my element. So on the beverage side, the most I can do is tell you about my killer cranberry juice and let you know that the couple on my tour seemed to really enjoypanini their wine selections. On the side of a non-drinker, I would say that Amedeo‘s does have a chill factor which lends to a nice relaxed time to converse with friends, drink cranberry juice and eat a delightful proscuitto and mozzarella panini. That’s what I did.

Finally, we made it to the end of the tour-and thank you Charm City Food Tours-you saved the best for last. Dessert! Now I do have to admit to a bit of assumption because in the beginning of the tour I just assumed I was going to have an end-of-tour cannoli (which I love)from Vaccaro’s. Thank the Lord, Jesus Christ, they were more original than that.

I feel like I’m indebted to Charm City Food Tours because I had the best tiramasu I have ever tasted at Piedigrotta Italian Bakery and Pastry Shop. Gordon gave us teasers throughout the tour, letting us know about Piedigrotta owner Carminantonio Iannaccone claims of being the inventor of tiramisu. All in our group dismissed it right away, thinking surely this dessert has been around longer than this man has been alive and why would the inventor of tiramisu live in Baltimore? (Not knocking Baltimore but, it just didn‘t seem likely). Nonetheless, our tour guide was nothing if not resourceful and investigative. It seems Gordon did some research and

it appears that Mr.Iannaccone may not be just whistling Dixie.

In short, I don’t know, but you can read all about his claim on the Piedigrotta website. Here’s an even better idea, just drop by and ask him yourself. He’s sure to have a story to tell and you can listen to it while you are drinking a darn good cup of cappuccino with possibly the best tiramisu you will taste in your life.

Charm City Food Tours operate other Baltimore tours Fells Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon. For more information about the tours in Baltimore and in sister cities, click here.

 

This article can also be found on the Baltimore Ethnic Restaurants Examiner page by Monica Johnson, MCCN writer.

As of 6/5/15 read  2622 times.  Article originally posted at Multiculturalcookingnetwork.com on 7/6/12

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