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April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterbacking: La Famiglia



It always interests me which new restaurants strike a chord with people and which don't.

La Famiglia near the Hopkins' Homewood Campus has been busy practically since the day it opened, while others are struggling and hoping to be discovered. ...

The food is good, as you'll see from the review that appeared in yesterday's Sun;  but that's not enough to carry a restaurant these days. Maybe it's the fact that so many people knew the staff, which came en masse from the now-closed Boccaccio in Little Italy.

Brasserie Tatin -- the restaurant that preceded La Famiglia -- was as busy when it first opened, but in the end closed. Something tells me that La Famiglia has legs, but you never know.

(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:04 AM | | Comments (18)


Were you there on a weekend or during the week?

To be fair, I almost always go during the week. EL

This is surprising (in a good way), mainly because there is barely any parking at all in that area. Must be "locals" who are keeping that place going.

I should have added that parking is free in the lot across the street (with validation). EL

There was (and, I assume, still is???) complimentary Valet Parking every night, all four times I have been to La Famiglia over the past several weeks. A welcome enhancement, even over the free parking lot across the street.... Harking back to my comments last year, which inspired much ire on the part of one other respondent, I just wish Salt had Valet Parking. It really does make a difference.

I'm glad you liked it, Elizabeth. That's where my rehearsal dinner will be.

We had dinner there with two friends three weekends ago. It was very busy-our server was plesant but it was a little slow. The owner (I believe) came around and talked to the customers, which was nice.

The food was good- the best recommendation I could make is to get the zabaglione with mixed fruit for desert. It was the hit of our table. It far exceeded the other dishes.

I had the seafood stew and my husband had a steak special. Our appetizer was just okay, escargot were tasteless, even in the pastry. To tell you the truth, I can't even remember what our friends had for dinner. The bread and olive oil were a nice touch but expected.

It was hopping the night we were in and they walked us to a table to sit down where two out of four chairs were missing. We had to stand, ackwardly, in the middle of the dining room while others were eating and they fetched other chairs which took a while.

That being said, we will be back. The food was good and I'm sure the service and seating situation will grow more consistent with time.

oh and one more thing, its funny you mention the reservation in your review... I had made reservations three weeks in advance. When I called the night before our reservation to confirm the time, because I couldn't recall if it was 7 or 730, they told us they didn't have us in the book at all.... I'm sure glad I called to confirm!

EL, if over the years, you'd have been asked, upon publishing your review, to have guessed aloud which ones would catch on, which not, how often do you think you would have been right?

Re the waiter : I, too, choose aloof competence over friendly ineptitude, too, but indifference feels different to me.......

and, WHY are there no Susan Boyle posts here?

I've gotten better over the years at guessing, but often it's still a mystery to me why one does so much better than another. I do know this: It doesn't hurt to be Italian. EL

Wait a minute...rehearsal dinner? You in a band, Sam?

He is engaged and Sam's Big Day must be closing in.

Is he marrying Becky Mettle?

That's where my rehearsal dinner will be.

So, Sam, you're marrying Dr. Amie?

I think the problem with Brasserie Tatin (which we loved) was closing in the summer months. They seemed to lose their crowds after that--it was as if people forgot they were there.

Chef Fabio Mura is the chef there..I don't believe he was mentioned in the article. He deserves praise for his creative Italian dishes.

Drift alert.... I'm not sure if this has been covered or not, just finished watching Bourdain's Chicago episode. EL - your mission, should you choose to accept it - the next time you visit Gailor you must go to Hot Doug's and report back on the Foie Gras dog and the duck fat fries.

Sam's getting married?? COOL! Best wishes to you both, Sam, you cute thing you!

I am glad to hear good reviews about La Familigia and wouldn't have thought anything else.I was a bartender at Boccaccio with bert and moved to Tampa in 2005.I am now trying to sell my house to join my old Family.Miss you all

I had lunch at La Famiglia with a friend this week. The service was friendly and attentive, but sometimes I want more information. (Example, when we asked about wines by the glass, we were told they had "red and white." We had to probe a bit to get the information we really wanted.) The food was good, but not off-scale good. I wasn't crazy about the small plate of spaghetti that came with my entree, but the salads that were included were a nice touch. Bottom line: we will be back, because we want this place to succeed.

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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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