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October 12, 2010

Review: Amedeo's in Little Italy

After a long, self-imposed hiatus, Midnight Sun contributor Owl Meat is back with Tipsy Tuesdays.

Psst ... I found an oasis among the dining hubbub of Little Italy. Don't tell anyone.

Osteria da Amedeo popped up on my radar a few months ago. It's referred to as a wine bar, but it isn't really. it's an osteria, an Italian tavern that serves simple food and wine.

So much of Amedeo's charm is about what it is not. Not an oenophile snobfest. No oo'ing, cooing, or gurgling over Chateau Loutre Songeuse. If you wanna get your Jäger on with your brahs, go someplace else.

Wanna troll the skankosphere? Not here. Wanna slip into an appletini-induced coma? Nope. It's a normal bar that feels complementary to the LI scene, one where there are no gimmicks, forced vibe, or cliché decorations.

When fellow Little Italians recommended it, I asked, "that place where Pepino's was?" That was the last osteria in the neighborhood. I put it off because I couldn't see how they could do much with that dive bar.

But I dropped by and was blown away by the transformation. Then I did something selfish - I kept it to myself. For a while.

Owner Ahmad Ebrahimpour has stripped the nicotine-colored walls painted with nicotine and the grim sooty ceiling. Instead, he has restored a handsome white tin ceiling. There is much exposed brick and dark wood. And there is even a charming little backroom suitable for conspiracies, trysts, and hullabaloos.

On my first visit Ebrahimpour was bartending. He was friendly, unpretentious, and laid back. The three regular bartenders have a similar demeanor. The crowd, never throbbing, skews younger than the hip-impaired bocce ballers you might imagine.

Conversation can happen here. People pop in for a drink and move on home or to another destination in the neighborhood. It's not a tourist joint. The scene at Amedeo's is whatever people bring to it on a given night.

I've watched Roy Halladay throw a no-hitter, listened to a woman talk about her baby's enormous head, kept up with Michigan (or was it Minnesota?) football, and ran into some old friends, all while on a grappa safari.

Grappa is a brandy made from pomace - what's left after grapes are pressed for wine. Bad grappa is often justly compared to kerosene. But these grappas are good to excellent. Banfi is smooth and reminiscent of many Balkan brandies like rakia. It even resembles Slivovitz in aroma.

Nonino is a real treat, with a pleasant seductive aroma of exotic fruits, like passion fruit and watermelon Starburst.

 I also tried their liqueurs. The Sicilian limoncello at Amedeo's had an uncommon creamy taste and texture. Among the best I have ever tasted. Cynar is an Italian bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants, with artichoke as the dominant flavor.  Fernet-Branca is unforgettable, like a mule kick of bitter pleasure.

The wine selection is respectable, focusing on affordable Italian wines. They plan to keep the food selection basic. Panini are $7 (there are seven combinations in all), a plate of olives and cheese is $4, and bruschetta is also $4.

Ebrahimpour said that he is planning to increase his stock of eccentric liquors. I hope he does. Other suggestions: a printed list of wines by the bottle and glass. (Currently they are going through a process of natural selection, listening to customers before making a set list.) Wi-Fi, while not essential, would be nice.

And some better beers. I know it's not a beer bar, but how about an IPA at least? Until then, Moretti la Rossa will have to do.

Amedeo's is part of a gentle metamorphosis in Little Italy. The addition of Isabella's, Max's Empanadas, and now Amedeo's adds variety for residents.

 And tourists seem to love it too, if only because they feel it's the total Little Italy experience - rubbing elbows with locals and getting that East Coast ethnic experience that you don't get at the Olive Garden in Omaha. As one said to me, "I always wanted to hang with some pie-zones."

Amedeo's is at 301 S. Exeter Street. It's open from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays, and from 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 410-727-8191.

Photo: Maza

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Posted by Erik Maza at 7:58 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


So what you're saying is, Amedeo's rocked you?

Zoink! I couldn't find a way to work that in. Yes, but it rocked me gently.

I went way long on this, so it was heavily edited. If you are interested in the exotic liquors referenced here you can read the full text on the Owl Meat Apocrypha. Plus a nifty photo collage.

Clarification - the grappa safari was a one time deal, not my usual M.O.

What? Isn't anybody going to "wine" about how this particular address isn't really in Little Italy?

It's dead center in Litly, Choppy, or as it is more properly known Harbor East by Northeast

So much depends on a red wheel barrow.

This place sounds like a nice place to take an out-of-towner, or for a date. Not a nice place for a date: The Get Down, in Fells, which I went to recently, and from where I wanted to leave. Also, Amanda C dropped a modernist poetry reference but I don't know why.

Thanks for the review. I work close by in Harbor East. It will be nice to swing by for a glass before the trek home.

Oops. Should be "depends upon a red wheel barrow."

Why? I'm not sure. This just made me think of it and then it kept rattling around in my head like a bad TV theme song. Something about OM's tone here, especially on the blog version.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Good point. It would be an excellent place for a date. It's a great soft entry before a meal in Little Italy, Harbor East and whatever is across Central Ave (Little Harbor Noreast?)

What was wrong with The Get Down? (Assuming you mean the club and not some activity in the back on a guy's van)

Thank you so much

Stopped by the Bistro Rx post to see what the commotion was about. Street names and neighborhood names again? For 69 comments? I guess I should do more of that next time.

Amanda C, I think I get what you mean. I like how each of the stanzas is shaped like a wheelbarrow.

Amedeo's sounds as fresh and spare as that poem.

Oh, poor Owlie, they butchered your piece. Why would an editor change individual words to kill your style? And I see that they introduced some bad grammar and punctuation. Isn't that the opposite of editing?

and yes, I had to google an old post to find my fancy logo

Huh, the original lede is back. Post-publication editing? Weird.

Speaking of editing, what are you guys smoking on Calvert Street? I just compared this to the unedited blog version.

Sun: "Osteria da Amedeo popped up on my radar a few months ago."
Blog: "Osteria da Amedeo glided in under the radar a few months ago."

That's not editing, that's a rewrite that makes no sense. Why rewrite a perfectly good sentence? Worse than that, you changed the meaning to something entirely different AND opposite. How do you not get that under the radar means almost unnoticed by all is different than popped up on someone's personal radar.

OM has a distinctive voice and you generally ruined it. I hope to see more Tipsy Tuesday's but not if you mangle them.

things don't glide into a radar; they show up, or pop up.

Sorry, but Jen is right. Gliding in under the radar is a common English expression meaning that you do not appear on radar and are therefore invisible or unnoticed.

Aviation radar (as far as I know) misses any aircraft below a certain relative altitude. Certain crazy pilots like to fly under the Bay Bridge, which is very illegal. The way that air traffic controllers know that you are doing this is because you drop off the radar briefly at that location.

Gliding under the radar is even stealthier, implying that you cut your engines before landing. I used this very technique when I smuggled ring-tailed lemurs into Del Boca Vista.

So yeah, the rewrite changed the meaning to something different and false. Let's move on. I'm calling this the first pancake for Tipsy Tuesday Phase 2 - The Reckoning

i wish i could call on john mcintyre every time i need grammatical backup, sort of like woody allen called on Marshall McLuhan in annie hall to shut up some street-side reviewer. unfortunately, we've all got jobs.

Just like a plane can't glide into a radar, a restaurant can't either. A plane may glide, but it'll only show up on a radar, or pop up.

The sentence, as it reads, doesn't suggest that the restaurant was under the radar, or well-known. It simply says that it showed up on the writer's personal radar.

This is silly. I wrote "under the radar" never "into radar". Gliding in under the radar is an actual thing that I have done in a plane and a metaphor meaning that the bar arrived on the scene withOUT attracting notice. As always, I would accede to the judgment of The McIntyre or frankly anyone else at this point.

I didn't mean my personal radar, that's why I wrote "the radar" meaning the public.

"under the radar, or well-known"? What? Under the radar means the opposite of well-known. I've also never seen the construction "a radar" before.

As is always possible, I may be completely wrong and boorish on the matter. Or maybe this idiom means something different in Miami. Unlikely but possible.

This was the copy I got: "Osteria da Amedeo glided in under the radar a few months ago."


There is some really weird disconnect here that I'm not getting. Calling Dr. Bombay ...

Yes, glided in under the radar, quietly, not attracting attention, on little cat feet as it were. Erik, what part of this are you not getting?

Interpretations of radar metaphors aside, I in no way meant to imply that there are factual mistakes in the article. There are not. I apologize if it seemed that I was implying that.

I stopped by Amedeo's last night and they had copies of the Sun article on the bar. They were very happy with it.

So much depends upon a crimson wheelbarrow ...

Radar Love.

Brilliant RayRay

UPDATE - They are now open for lunch every day, except Sunday when they are closed.

Get the Italiano panino. It's a party in your mouth.

I once saw the Southeastern District grammar police haul away this woman who was standing in front of Amedeo's, calling out: "Beneath?" "Behind." "Beyond!". Charged her with Prepositioning An Officer.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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