baltimoresun.com

« Amaretti cookies save the day | Main | World's tiniest competitive eater? »

October 18, 2009

Gino Troia speaks his mind

GinoTroia.jpgIf you haven't checked out the current issue of Style magazine, you should. It's the food issue, with some very interesting stuff in it. Thanks to Dahlink for pointing out the story about the Troias, who have been one of Baltimore's important food families for many years.

I'm so used to people tiptoeing around the subject of Little Italy that I was quite startled at this comment from the patriarch of the family, Gino Troia: ...

"In speaking about Little Italy, (or, for that matter, about most of the Italian restaurants in Maryland) Gino can barely contain his disgust.

“'If I can express my true opinion, I have to say without reservation that most Italian restaurants in Maryland suck. I think you did not expect me to say this, but you get tired of being surrounded by culinary mediocrity.'”

Wow. Tell us what you really think.

(2005 photo of Gino Troia, left, at Bruschetta by Lloyd Fox/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:13 PM | | Comments (41)
        

Comments

The article was very interesting. I would like to try Grano, Cafe Troia, and the new Cuban restaurant.

How many stars does "suck" get?

Wow. I'm really shocked that anyone associated with Grano would take such a strong stance on the state of Italian food in our region. They aren't exactly reaching for the stars there.

Jacques Pepin, Julia Child--they'd never have even conceived of such a thought. It's the difference between class and no class.

I've been saying this since I moved here from Philly in 2003. Mediocre at best. Ate at Amicci's the other night. It's the land of low expectations.

Cleatus, Jacque and Julia could certainly concieve of such thoughts. They might not say so in public, but I'm sure they could think such thoughts.

I don't know if I'd go as far as saying most Italian restaurants in Maryland are mediocre, but I'd certainly say that a lot of them are.

To be charitable, perhaps something got lost in translation. But I admit my eyebrows rose reading Gino's remarks.

I said most Italian restaurants,I did not specify them,I am sorry if I offended those who are not on my list.

I'm inclined to agree with him. The few times I've eaten at various restaurants in Little Italy, I have been amazingly underwhelmed. Apparently, to them, anything over-salted can be proclaimed "Italian."

Good Italian food is hard to come by, everyplace, not only in Baltimore, and Maryland.

There are so may Italian restaurants, every Italian thinks he/she can cook, sadly many of them can't. But then again how many really good Mexican, or Chinese, or German restaurants are around?

Little Italy is a great place for out of towners who won't return anytime soon. It is a shame... Compared to New York and Boston's Little Italy.Where's your Italian pride? I want to know how these restaurants can get away with serving such poor quality food... Cafe Gia's is the only place I like to go, it's fresh, the atmosphere is so quaint, and the food is simple and consistent. It's about time an Italian took a stand on the mess downtown...

It's OK, Gino. We forgive you. Just don't do it again.

Perhaps Troia doesn't produce what Marcella Hazan would produce, but does that discredit his stance that much of Baltimore's Italian restaurants are producing "crap"?

I went to Sabatino's over the summer and my gf had a completely inedible lasagna. I tasted it and nearly spat it out. It was utterly disgusting.

What we need more of in this city are people willing to voice their dissatisfaction with the quality of food in our beloved hometown. Enough of whimpering quietly at home. I only wish our food critic of record held a standard remotely close to that of Gino Troia - perhaps then things would improve in our fair city.

Jay C., your credibility is not helped when you use over the top statements like "completely inedible" and "utterly disgusting" without describing what the actual problem is. It makes it sound like you've got an ax to grind.

Your constant harping about "the food critic of record" is annoying as well.

Jay C.:
Did you pay for the lasagna at Sabatino's?

If so, please tell us why--if quietly whimpering is not in your repertoire?

If not-- how'd you justify not paying? Did you righteously storm out of the joint cursing or did you patiently explain why you weren't going to pay for swill?

I'm just curious about the drama in that whole scene.

Did you stiff the server? Touch the server, lightly? Just curious.

Alas, Jay C. won't be able to answer your questions. :-) EL

EL Smackdown!

"I am Elizabeth Large and I will destroy you!"

Yes! EL

Love it!!

A quality improvement in Little Italy is inevitable when Maggiano's does Italian-American food better than some of the old guard restaurants in LI.

Btw: Despite the local cliche about LI being a "touristy" destination, I think most people would be surprised by how many locals come through.

The institution of a LI is a great thing. If you visit a LI restaurant and are disappointed, why not kindly write the management to ask why they've not updated? Better yet, why not order what you'd like? Most LI restaurants have an owner in/near the kitchen every night. I'm not suggesting it's your responsibilty to "fix" these places, but an enlightened owner would want to know these things.

I know Gino & the Troia's. Great people. Daniela has even converted me to raw food. Gino is right. If you saw the amount of sugar and MSG the old schoolers used to use, you'd be disgusted (think salad dressings, meatballs, sauce, cheesesteaks, etc). I don't know if they still do...

Just about every Italian wine, unless you are gouged for a "super" Tuscan, is in the same category. There, somebody said it.

"bawlmer", where the heck did that comment come from? Did I miss something?

In the eternal hereafter, we have levels of Hell for the Italian cooks who “suck” as well as those arrogant enough to point this out to them.

The cooks who “suck” spend their days on a level full of crowded, brightly light converted row house eateries, drinking Chianti out of small juice glasses and feeding each other antipasto and brioche discussing the latest bocce tournament results. All they have to watch are re-runs of “The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr” and “The Frugal Gourmet” with Jeff Smith. All they have to listen to are badly mastered Al Martino albums.

The arrogant sits on a level in semi-darkness and silence, although he can hear the “suckers,” distantly. He has nothing to watch except his own linguini slowly drying out. He dines alone.

bawlmer, you're just wrong. There, somebody said it.

Time for positive vibes:

Thumbs-up for Cafe Gia {haven't been for a little while, but when Bruno was there, the eggplant parm was to live for!, also BYOB back then}
and for Grano {great pesto, great sauce in general, still BYOB}......

I am a peasant at heart, but peasant food is some of the simplest pleasures on earth.
There, I mumbled it.

I'm with you, dave the suave. Vongole Alla Marinara at Rocco's Cappriccio.

Well said, Dante. My mom uses to always tell me that it's easy to see your own faults in others.

Not for nothing. But if this guy thinks Italian restaurants in Little Italy suck, I would love to hear his honest, unbiased opinion on his own family's Grano. I've had the misfortune of giving this restaurant 2 chances and both times wondered I didn't just boil spaghetti, heat up some sauce out of a can and save $10.

The last time I went to LI in NY, I had trouble finding it... it is really shrinking in the shadow of Chinatown. But you can get great grub in Chinatown. I think it was Gandhi who once said, "Things change."

Heather is right about Manhattan's Little Italy. There isn't much of it left. I accidentally had a really great meal in an Italian restaurant in Chinatown a few years ago. I suspect the restaurant in question used to be in Little Italy.

Heather, Heraclitus said it first: "Nothing endures but change."

As one place in the city that I feel I can comment on somewhat, I think our LI isn't bad at all. Yes, there are some over priced mediocre meals to be had by the uninitiated. But, if you come to know the highlights of every kitchen you can have a decent meal at any restaurant in LI.

There are some quite excellent places as well but just about every restaurant has their couple of shining moments, even it is just salad and garlic bread. Or a delicious scooped out hunk-o bread with shrimp in garlic sauce. Or calamari. It is the prize we get for being locals in scoping them out and finding these gems!

Joyce, please share.

Little Italy chefs are atwitter talking about Gino now.

What I've heard so far, includes:

How he's closed more restaurants than Wolfgang Puck has ever opened. Some gossipy tidbits about his personal life. Other gossipy tidbits about who actually cooks in his kitchens. And the notion that if anyone is qualified to make official pronouncements on "culinary mediocrity," it's certainly Gino Troia.

Looks like them were fightin' words...

Forget about the older guy on the left in the pic...Who is that ruggedly handsome guy on the right?

As for Grano, I've been there twice and had a great time and good food.
Last time I went, stopped at 13.5 and had a great cheese plate and a great glass of merlot. La Scala is my one and only destination in Little Italy for dinner. Isabella's for pizza!


As for the other guy, I used to work at in Hunt Valley. I can't remember his name, but he ran Sapori D'Italia, I think. They had the best espresso! He always took good care of me...

As for Grano, I've been there twice and had a great time and good food.
Last time I went, stopped at 13.5 and had a great cheese plate and a great glass of merlot. La Scala is my one and only destination in Little Italy for dinner. Isabella's for pizza!


As for the other guy, I used to work at in Hunt Valley. I can't remember his name, but he ran Sapori D'Italia, I think. They had the best espresso! He always took good care of me...

As for Grano, I've been there twice and had a great time and good food.
Last time I went, stopped at 13.5 and had a great cheese plate and a great glass of merlot. La Scala is my one and only destination in Little Italy for dinner. Isabella's for pizza!


As for the other guy, I used to work at in Hunt Valley. I can't remember his name, but he ran Sapori D'Italia, I think. They had the best espresso! He always took good care of me...

Forget about the older guy on the left in the pic...Who is that ruggedly handsome guy on the right?

Leah,
His name is Will. I believe he worked at Isabella's at one time and later on was at the Sotto Cafe (cafe in the 100 E. Pratt St. bulding). Not sure where he landed after that.

His name is Will and he runs the food end of 13.5 wine bar in hampden. The plates are ok but the panninis are out of this world

The scooch sandwich rocks.

I'm a little afraid to ask what a "scooch sandwich" is.

the scooch is the best thing on the menu
it has italian salami and ham grilled with primadonna cheese and topped with balsamic olive oil and hots ...all put on the pannini press
read about it on Baltimore Magazine blog and have eaten two per week since

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

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.
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine? Baltimoresun.com's Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected