Best Restaurants 2012: Our Rising Stars

Economy be damned. This past year, Baltimore became a haven for new restaurants, many with impressive chefs in the kitchens. We expect these upstarts to have a big impact on next year’s “Best Restaurants” list. Old-timers would do well not to rest on their laurels. Here are the 10 new kids to watch.

Bond Street Social 901 S. Bond St., 443-449-6234. What we like: This contemporary, wood-encased, fireplace-loaded space encourages sharing with its “social” drinks and small plates, convivial staff, and friendly bars.

Chazz: A Bronx Original 1415 Aliceanna St., 410-522-5511. What we like: Actor Chazz Palminteri and chef Sergio Vitale formed an awesome partnership to present Italian-American cuisine, featuring coal-fired-oven pizza, complemented by a chic décor that reflects New York locales.

Corner BYOB 850 W. 36th St., 443-869-5075. What we like: Brussels-born chef Bernard Dehaene caters to exotic tastes with specialty meats like kangaroo, bear, and yak, while still appealing to less adventurous palates with classical dishes boasting New American flavors and Belgian influences.

Demi 510 E. Belvedere Avenue, 443-278-9001. What we like: Executive chef Tae Strain has fashioned an exclusive gem of a place (32 seats) with equally gem-like offerings, little plates where every ingredient is carefully thought out and beautifully presented.

The Olive Room at the Inn at The Black Olive 803 S. Caroline St., 443-681-6316. What we like: The owners of The Black Olive branched out to open an environmentally green, industrial-chic dining room—on a rooftop with a terrace, no less—concentrating on grilled meats and seafood and organic ingredients.

Phillips Seafood 601 E. Pratt St., 410-685-6600. What we like: A change of venue has instilled new life in this Maryland mainstay that has returned to its roots with a greater reliance on regional seafood in a swank piano-bar lounge and dining room personalized with photos of the Phillips family and the Eastern Shore.

TEN TEN 1010 Fleet St., 410-244-6867. What we like: This two-level brick oasis in the historic Bagby Building showcases American cuisine by executive chef Mark Davis in a cozy, 65-seat space that has the comfort of a favorite neighborhood hangout and the panache of a sophisticated bistro.

Thames Street Oyster House 1728 Thames St., 443-449-7726. What we like: Plopped into the midst of rollicking Fells Point, this plucky newcomer delivers the culinary goods with New England cuisine and oysters prepared in just about every manner possible in a bright-white charmingly refurbished row house.

Waterfront Kitchen 1417 Thames St., 443-681-5310. What we like: Consulting chef Jerry Pellegrino and chef de cuisine Levi Briggs wasted no time in presenting creative, classically prepared dishes focusing on local, seasonal products in a luxurious setting that delivers a stunning waterfront view as a bonus.

Wit & Wisdom: A Tavern by Michael Mina Four Seasons Hotel, 200 International Dr., 410-576-5800. What we like: San Francisco chef Michael Mina brought his vision for an open kitchen with a live-fire grill and hearth oven to a gorgeous banquette-filled room with a ringside seat at the harbor.

Issue date: March, 2012
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