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A tattoo-friendly wine bar

Former "Top Chef" contestant Jesse Sandlin and Rosina Gourmet owner Jim Lancaster are teaming up with a new restaurant on the edge of Harbor East and Little Italy.

Vino Rosina will be upscale sandwich place by day, wine bar by night. Lancaster will be owner. Sandlin, executive chef.

The restaurant will seat 70. It is expected to open in mid-May in the Bagby Furniture Building at Fleet and South Exeter streets, across from Whole Foods. 

At lunchtime, the restaurant will offer Rosina Gourmet sandwiches as well as flatbreads, salads and a small bar menu, Sandlin told me. The flatbreads and bar menu also will be available in the evening, along with a selection of raw plates -- carpaccio, ceviche, that sort of thing. There will be a lot of small plates designed to be paired with a glass of wine, like olives or charcuterie, plus a "killer cheese selection."

Sandlin hopes to source much of her food locally. She has already hooked up with Gunpowder Bison, is looking into buying beef from a farm near Monkton, and plans to use Maryland-farmed Marvesta Shrimp. She'll be shopping at the Baltimore Farmers' Market.

But Sandlin said the food will not be strictly local. That cheese selection, for instance, will come from American, Italian, French and Spanish cheese makers.

"We're definitely not Woodberry Kitchen," she said.

Sandlin also said the restaurant will not be a coat-and-tie kind of place.

"A person like myself, who has all these ridiculous tattoos, I should be able to come eat at the restaurant where I work at and not feel uncomfortable," she said. "It will be focused on the quality of food, quality of wine, quality of service, but in a fun, casual atmosphere."

Before this venture, Sandlin had worked most recently as a line cook at Cinghiale. Her last day there was Saturday. Joining her at the new restaurant are two other former Charleston Restaurant Group employees. Olivia Boru, a former sommelier at Charleston, will be beverage manager. Tiffany Haleamau, an assistant manager at Cinghiale, will be general manager.

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