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Quietly, Verde has found a following in Canton

Dining and DrinkingRestaurantsBrunchJazz (Music Genre)

The husband-and-wife team behind Verde concede they were somewhat reticent about publicizing Verde, at least at first.

When they opened their approachable chic trattoria last September, in the old Birches space on Montford Street, Ed Bosco and Marianne Kresevich certainly were hoping that Verde would be a good fit for Canton.

Now, the Roland Park residents, who moved to Baltimore four years ago, said that the first year has exceeded their expectations. And they're moving forward, with a new brunch debuting this weekend and plans to expand seating to the second floor.

"The feedback is really great," said Bosco. "It's what we were hoping for when we worked on the type of pizza we wanted to make."

Verde's specialty is Neapolitan-style pizza made in wood-burning ovens, topped with quality ingredients like homemade mozzarella and ricotta, prosciutto di Parma and some seldom-seen imported cheeses. The offerings also include antipasti, salads and Neapolitan specialties like "montanarina," a fried dough puff topped with tomato sauce and pecorino Romano.

The brunch will feature a menu of newly created pizzas, some of which are variations on brunch fare typically presented on English muffins, like a Florentine pizza topped with wilted spinach, fontina, pancetta and hollandaise. Others, like the Uova Bianca, topped with mozzarella, prosciutto, eggs and basil, are inspired by Neapolitan cuisine.

Verde's brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is otherwise open for dinner daily.

Verde is at 641 S. Montford St. For information call 410-522-1000 or visit verdepizza.com.

News from High Street Changes continue in Little Italy. One more restaurant has closed, but another is transforming itself into something new.

Caesar's Den served its last meal to the public Sept. 29. The traditional Italian restaurant was owned by Tina and Guido DeFranco, who lived above their High Street restaurant.

"It feels great," said Guido DeFranco on the morning after the last dinner. "If feels like the first day of my new life."

The DeFrancos made public their intention to sell their restaurant back in 2011, but it remains unsold, according to Jerry Blumenthal, whose Lutherville-based Business & Commercial Ventures is handling the property.

DeFranco said they just got tired of waiting. "I can't spend the rest of my life waiting for something to happen," he said.

Caesar's Den is the third traditional Little Italy restaurant to close this year, following Rocco's Capriccio and Della Notte. But DeFranco said that the closings, including his, were coincidental and did not augur bad news for Little Italy's dining scene.

"We love this neighborhood," said DiFranco. "Tina is a passionate volunteer [for neighborhood causes]. I am passionate about walking. I love walking around the harbor."

One block away from Caesar's Den, another restaurant has made a big change.

Last weekend, Germano's Trattoria —which is owned by chef Germano Fabiani and his wife, Cyd Wolf — turned into Germano's Piattini. The changeover took place quietly, according to Donald Kennedy, the restaurant's general manager.

The new version of Germano's sees Fabiani collaborating with a new executive chef, Peter Perrone, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris. The menu focuses on small plates, or piattini, like butternut squash tortellini, prosecco-battered long-stem artichokes, porchetta and pan-seared fillet of branzini.

The ground-level dining room has been reimagined as a casual tavern, which will feature craft beers on rotation and wine by the glass, in both 3- and 6-ounce sizes.

Wolf said that the new dining space will operate as a "terzo" (translation: "third place"), the Italian phrase for a home away from home, or a place that bridges the worlds of home and work. The new space will invite more casual, after-work drop-ins than the more formal trattoria that preceded it, Wolf said.

Wolf said "Germano looked at Little Italy as the perfect place for a renaissance. It's so well located. It just needs a bit of a spark."

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com

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