We Did It!

YAY FOR US! I’m starting this column off with a lil pat on the back. In 2000, the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) established the Hospitality Hall of Honor to recognize those industry leaders who have exhibited hard work, dedication, courage and creativity while representing the hospitality and foodservice industry in Maryland. This year, Foodservice Monthly (FSM) will be inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor! So I’m gonna take a sec here to give props to our editor Michael Birchenall. I started writing for Michael when FSM was but a glint in his eye—thanks to mah gurl Linda Roth. Here’s what I’ve learned. Hospitality folks are THE most generous group of people. Always hosting events for charities, donating gift certs, providing food and they are particularly community minded. And I’ve made so many great friends, many of them FSM contributors. (Dara, Linda, Juliet …) So, congratulations and thank you Michael, for bringing me into your world. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

Tark’s Grill just celebrated their 7th anniversary and introduced a Wednesday 1/2 price wine night and a new Happy Hour menu. “We are proud of the success of our restaurant and have worked hard to make this a comfortable, approachable place for everyone to gather, whether for a special occasion, a business lunch or a drink at the bar with friends and family. Our guests, regulars and new comers alike, are the people who have made our establishment so lively and warm over the years and we wanted to thank them in a special way,” said Bill Shriver, Operating Partner for Tark’s Grill at the Station. The new Happy Hour menu will include popular favorites such as Crispy Calamari, Spicy Chicken Wings, Popcorn Shrimp and Parmesan Fries and drink specials. The Wednesday 1/2 price wine night will include any bottle of wine under $100. “We know that many of our guests come into the restaurant for lunch and dinner but we also want to encourage people to enjoy our full service bar with its great atmosphere, friendly bartenders and classic cocktails. We’re hoping the new Happy Hour menu in addition to the 1/2 price wine night will bring in new people who want something more casual, fun and light,” said Chris Golder, General Manager and Executive Chef. Located in the center of Greenspring Station in Baltimore County, Tark’s Grill is a casual upscale, full service restaurant and bar serving lunch and dinner seven days a week as well as brunch on Saturday and Sundays.


Federal Hill goes green! To celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, B-towners are invited to take part in the city’s biggest Irish celebration, the Federal Hill Irish Stroll. Jolly lads and lasses will get their Irish on with tasty sips and bites, Irish tunes, giveaways, bagpipers and general merriment. On Saturday, March 14th, from 12 – 9 p.m., the Stroll will feature lots ‘o specials at 17 neighborhood watering holes, including: Mother’s Federal Hill Grille, Rowhouse Grille, Banditos, Blue Agave, Illusions, Mad River, MaGerk’s and Pub Dog, to name a few.

Walk-up tickets can be purchased in the parking lot of Mother’s Grille (1113 S. Charles Street) between 12 – 5 p.m. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Federal Hill Hospitality Association. For more info:

The 4th Annual Taste of Pikesville is slated for Thursday, April 30, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Baltimore North-Pikesville. Highlighting “new and old” Pikesville, 40 local restaurants will serve signature dishes, beer, wine and cocktails. Participating restaurants include: Mari Luna, Gourmet Again, Simply Elegant Catering, North Oaks, Fountainside Restaurant, Saval Foodservice, Noodles and Co. and Island Quizine. Tickets are $35/person in advance and $40/person at the door.


A taste of Tuscany in Reisterstown! Ristorante FIRENZE opened at 2 Hanover Rd. in the historic Main Street corridor. The 3,000-square-foot authentic Italian bistro is the vision of brothers, Brian and Larry Leonardi, whose grandparents immigrated to Baltimore and settled in Little Italy. Growing up, the Leonardi brothers worked as bus boys, servers and cooks in their uncle’s restaurant, Velleggia’s. They later opened their own Casa di Pasta eateries in Belvedere Square and Columbia. “FIRENZE’s food and drink experience will respect and reflect what generations of Baltimoreans enjoyed at Veleggia’s,” said Brian Leonardi. “This means the use of fresh ingredients, creative recipes, passionate chefs and servers with an ‘aim to please’ attitude.  And, of course, great wine!” “Our vision for FIRENZE is also to fill a void in the northwest Baltimore County-Carroll County restaurant community by introducing a neighborhood-style eatery where everyone will know your name, as well as your favorite drink, appetizer and entree item,” he added. Approximately $750,000 has been invested in a makeover of the FIRENZE space. Noticeable from the outside are the remodeled exteriors along Main Street and a new main entrance – with custom bevel wood doors greeting guests – off the 88-space rear parking lot. Designed by Rita St. Clair Associates, FIRENZE’s upscale casual interiors feature a warm, rich color scheme accented by contemporary design elements and natural materials.

The main dining room seats 66 and the private dining/meeting space for 25 people, features a custom Murano glass chandelier as its centerpiece. A glassed in wine cellar that holds 550 bottles separates the dining room from the bar/lounge area. The bar area features glass shelving and wide-screen TVs over a Carrara marble bar top. Guests can charge their phones and computers at docking ports and hang their jackets or purses (THANK YOU!) on hooks under the bar. FIRENZE’s Tuscan dining experience includes homemade pasta, meatballs, lasagna, breads, pizzas, sauces, salad dressings and desserts prepared under the direction of head chef, Zach Leonardi.

About the Author

RANDI ROM is a Baltimore special events planner, marketing and public relations maven, freelance writer and head of R.J. Rom & Associates. Have a hot scoop? Contact Randi via e-mail at or by phone at 443-691-9671.

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