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July 16, 2008

Signs of the times: Velleggia's

Our Little Italy correspondent has sent us this very fine photo of Velleggia's, with this subject line in his e-mail: "Maybe if we had a few more signs."


"It's a bird, it's a plane's a bistro?
1) a small or unpretentious restaurant
2) a: a small bar or tavern b: nightclub"
Will someone please go and eat there and tell us about it? 
(Photo courtesy of Owl Meat Correspondent)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:37 AM | | Comments (23)


I think I saw Jan Michael Vincent smoking a Newport menthol outside there on Sunday.

Just what Little Italy needs: an intimate 500 seat Italian seafood pasta bistro (Isn't that French?) pizzaria gelatoria wine bar that "can accomodate groups of up to 200". You can almost taste the gelazzavinasagna - mmmm..... Do you think they use "mmmm..." in Fratalia? Their menu also has "wheat free sourdough cheese pizza". I'm confused in so many ways. If only they had tapas!

So is it a new place? I don't understand.

Just newly reinvented. EL

Chicklet, you can call yourself whatever you like, as far as I'm concerned, as long as it isn't Ms. Old Fart.

I ate there in January and thought it was pretty good. The tiramisu (I'm sure I botched the spelling) was by far the best that I have ever had. We were told that it was made in-house on a daily basis. The waitress was too busy to pay us much attention, so the tiramisu was on the house to apologize for her lack of attention (one time in my life that I was glad I was ignored!). The only downside to the food was that portions were quite small for the price you paid.

Which reminds me, can someone please explain what Trattoria really means? EL

New owners?

This Vellegia's crap is getting old. The food is the worst, the service even worse than that and the owners are morons. I can't believe they keep sinking money into the outside of this place and the esthetics, but don't even so much as look at the backbone of the restaurant...the kitchen! They need to invest all this bull into the back of the house and get the reoutation for food back on target, rather than this ridiculous show of unnecessary bullcrap!

But what if all you have is a squirrel up your sleeve?

It's the only facade on Pratt St in Little Italy. I guess they sucker in tourists with their razzmatazzaria.

You might as well have an Olive Garden there instead.

EL: Grazie.
I'm still not sure, but I feel better educated.

Vellegia's reminds me of Mama Leone's in NYC. Not the best Italian food to had, in a city with an enviable Little Italy, but jammed with tourists looking to eat large quantities of not too bad Italian food for a fixed bargain price. I was shocked when I learned that they actually closed, so packed was it every time I was (unfortunately) there. Another Hot 10 - places that have un-earned reputations with the Tourists!

I've never eaten at Mama Leone's, but I've made the lasagna recipe from their cookbook numerous times. It's really, really good, but a heck of a lot of work (among other things, it requires making a bunch of small meatballs). So much work that we only make it once a year or so.

Unnecessary Bullcrap-

As a resident of Little Italy, I must go on record against having an Olive Garden in the neighborhood, although it might honestly be an improvement. DH and I went to Velliggia's tonight to finally check it out, and he just finished puking.

So..on to the more complete review: Velliggia's is cleary trying to be all things Italian to all people. The website displays three menus: the regular menu, the organic menu, and the delivery menu. I certainly applaud both concepts.

However, as for actually going there..DON'T. The place is under-air conditioned and badly decorated. The service was very slow- our water glasses were empty for most of our meal. The Sinatraesque recordings were played too loudly.

While we were waiting for DH's salad (VERY long time), we witnessed another couple give up in disgust and leave. We should have followed.

We thought we had hit a bright spot with the yummy warm sourdough bread served with olive oil, but there was not enough oil, and the waiter didn't think to ask about bringing more until DH's salad had finally arrived.

Oh..and they are a "wine bar" now? Sure. A "wine bar" that was out of the first 2 bottles we ordered (coincedentaly, the least expensive good wines on the menu).

DH's House salad was just a few tomato wedges and black olives tossed into wilted soggy lettuce with a nearly unnoticeable stock Italian dressing. When our entrees arrived, they both looked as if they had been sitting under heat lamps for far too long. My alfredo sauce was completely congeled. The edges of the pasta were dried out, as though the meal had been actually taken out of the fridge and re-heated!!

Everything tasted like a frozen dinner. DH mentioned that he preferred Ragu sauce to the supposedly homemade meat sauce on his plate. My alfredo sauce was heavy, but with no specific flavor.

As we left, we passed a woman reading the menu. We suggested she go to Amicci's instead. It was our good deed for the day.

Wow, talk about taking one for the team FLIRV! Eating somewhere to see just how bad it is. Brave bordering on crazy. You should get a medal. I can only assume that Unnecessary Bcrap is in a shallow grave somewhere for even bringing up the dreaded OG. What's DH? Designated hitter, husband or someone's initials?

Falling on a grenade to save us AND saving strangers from attack. Dining Medal of Valor for you my friends and a Purple Heart for DH. Was there anything other than the signs outside that actually make it a wine bar or gelatoria? Bistro sounds meaningless.

No gelato FLIRV? I thought i saw a sign there that said free gelato with any entree. Is that just a fancy Italian word for ice cream?

The ironic part of the crappy food is that the kitchen is HUGE! There is so much space and good size coolers and freezers that anyone w/ an inkling of how to cook would be in heaven w/ those resources.

I think the stove has around 16 eyes. The sauces are kept warm over it's own heating station. Enough cooler space to prep the majority of cold apps for a busy night.

There is enough space in that kitchen that you could make most dishes fresh in a reasonable amount of time.
Not that I ever worked there or anything like that. :-0

I think OMG is famililar w/ it's set up

I am familiar with its old setup Sparky. I suppose the kitchen hasn't changed but who knows, there could be bears on roller skates for all I know. Actually I haven't seen their kitchen in years. The new owners put yellow plywood over the windows where you could watch the activity in the kitchen from the lounge (bar).

Thanks, Rev"ed

No, Unnecessary Bullcrap is alive and kicking. I'm too new to LI to have any real "connections". But I do have to agree that ANY Italian chain in the neighborhood would really cheapen the neighborhood feel.

DH is "dear husband" or "damn husband" as needed.

They do have a case of about a dozen flavors of gelato, but I just couldn't care enough to try any of them.

DH - better than "dead husband", who would make a weird dining companion even for Veleggia's. I hope. Hmmm .. a restaurant for zombies ... get right on that Shirley.

Spaerky, 16 eyes? That sounds frightening.

Methinks Sparky knows his kitchen-speak. I'd guess 16 "eyes" is the number of cooktop burners.

Bingo Dottie

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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