Robbin Haas, one of Food & Wine's 10 Best New Chefs in 1994, is planning to open a craft beer/artisan pizza restaurant in the Hampden-Woodberry area by the end of September.
So why is the chef, pictured, who became renowned in Miami for his New World Cuisine and now runs a French bistro in Antigua, Guatemala, coming to Baltimore?
"The food scene here is phenomenal," he said on the phone this afternoon. "It's growing. It's fun. It's exciting."
There's another reason, too. He and his wife, who has MS, wanted to be near excellent medical facilities like Hopkins, he said.
They're setting up residence here, along with three dogs and three cats, though Robbin will continue to oversee his Antigua restaurant, Bistrot Cinq, too.
The Baltimore restaurant will be called Birroteca (a beer version of an Italian enoteca) and will feature a number of craft brews, wine, small plates, charcuterie, artisan cheeses, and desserts in addition to organic artisan pizzas. "It's the way people like to eat," Robbin said.
It's located in the space formerly occupied by Mill Steakhouse Tavern, 1520 Clipper Rd., not far from Woodberry Kitchen. "It had all the bones," Robbin said. He's redecorating and was checking out the reclaimed goods at Second Chance when I talked to him.
During his career, the chef, who grew up in Buffalo and is described as "celebrated" in restaurant stories, has also consulted on several restaurants around the country, including the Raku "Asian diners" in D.C. and Bethesda.
He hopes Baltimoreans will give him a chance as the "new kid on the block."
How can we not when he says things like, "We had an opportunity to go anywhere. We picked Baltimore. It is really a cool town."
Photo courtesy of Long Island Restaurant News