By Kit Waskom Pollard, For The Baltimore Sun
8:47 AM EST, November 14, 2012
As its name suggests, S'ghetti Eddie's is a casual place.
The Keswick restaurant, located on West Cold Spring Lane in a block that includes sister spots Miss Shirley's, Loco Hombre, Roland Park Bagel and Alonso's, is well-known among young families and Loyola University Maryland students, who flock there for its capable takes on pizza, wings and pasta.
S'ghetti Eddie's opened in 2007, taking over the space vacated when Miss Shirley's moved to bigger digs across the street. Last summer, the restaurant received a face-lift — new paint, new tables, new art and new additions to the menu.
The new space, with its sage green walls, clean booths and high-top, bar-style tables, felt warm and inviting on a recent Friday night. The restaurant wasn't packed, though about half the tables were filled with families and college kids waiting for meals while watching sports on S'ghetti Eddie's many TVs.
At its core, S'ghetti Eddie's is a pizza-and-pasta joint. The menu covers the basics: salads, wings, pizza, pasta. Drinks include sodas, water and juices. BYOB is an option, but we didn't spy anyone taking advantage.
The service is brisk and friendly, but low-key. Diners order and pay at the counter. Someone delivers the food to the table, but with minimal theatrics — the whole order comes at once.
During our visit, which was our first to the restaurant, ordering was a little confusing. We placed our order easily enough and retreated to a booth in the back. When the table next to us filled with a family carrying a numbered sign, given to them by the cashier, we started to worry that we'd done something wrong.
After a brief tete-a-tete with the nice woman behind the counter, we stopped worrying. Some tables get numbers, some don't. We're not sure there's any rhyme or reason as to which customers get a number, but our food made its way to our table without a problem.
We started with an order of Old Bay wings ($9.99 for 10). With the exception of one overcooked drumstick, the wings were meaty and tender and coated with just enough Old Bay. The skin was crispy, salty and spicy — but not too spicy.
The wings arrived with the requisite celery sticks and blue cheese dressing — both standard, but welcome.
S'ghetti Eddie's pasta entrees come with a small Caesar salad and a hunk of buttery garlic bread. The bread was decent but forgettable, but the salad was a nice example of the genre.
Romaine lettuce was crunchy and fresh, and oversize croutons were crispy, with just the right amount of crumble. The dressing, thick as molasses, was creamy and savory. A generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese added texture and salt.
The pasta dish that came with the salad — chicken and broccoli over spaghetti tossed with a sauce of basil and olive oil ($12.99) — is one of the menu's new additions. The individual components were each cooked nicely — the chicken was tender, the broccoli retained just a little crunch, and the pasta was al dente.
The simple sauce of very finely chopped basil and olive oil was like a thin pesto. It was fresh and well-seasoned, but it lacked the oomph that pesto's other ingredients — nuts and cheese — lend the sauce. But paired with the chicken and broccoli, the sauce worked, giving the whole dish a light, healthy feel.
Pizza con tutto ($13.99 for 12-inch, $16.99 for 16-inch) was a mixed bag. It was billed as Italian ham, ground beef, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions on top of mozzarella and S'ghetti Eddie's house-made marinara sauce.
We spotted most of those toppings, but the ground beef was hard to find. The other meats were pleasing, but the mushrooms, green peppers and onions were not cooked before they were scattered on the pizza. Some diners like toppings that way — crunchy, with just a few dark edges from the pizza oven — but we prefer veggies that are sauteed before landing on top of a pizza.
The sauce, with its sweet, fresh flavor, impressed us. But though the thin crust stood up to the toppings, it lacked flavor.
The pizza was somewhat disappointing, but the evening looked up when we ordered dessert. S'ghetti Eddie's procures its cannoli cream from Vacarro's, so we knew we were in good hands.
Standing at the counter, we watched one of the cooks fill a flaky pastry with the tart-sweet cream and then add a liberal sprinkling of chocolate chips. The pastry is made in-house. In all, the cannoli ($3.99) was just as good as the classic version available at Vaccaro's in Little Italy.
We took dessert to go — S'ghetti Eddie's is as much a takeout joint as an eat-in restaurant. The cannoli made it home intact, and made us wish we'd ordered a few more.
Back story: Opened in 2007, S'ghetti Eddie's underwent a renovation to freshen up the interior — and the menu — this past summer. The restaurant is a pizza-and-Italian go-to for North Baltimore families and college students.
Parking: Lot in front
Signature dish: One of the new items on S'ghetti Eddie's menu, the chicken and broccoli pasta is a nicely cooked and easy-to-eat take on the simple combination, with pasta lightly dressed with basil and olive oil.
Where: 410 W. Cold Spring Lane
Contact: 410-235-5999; http://www.sghettieddies.com
Open: Daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Credit cards: All major
Reservations: Not accepted
[Key: Superlative: ✭✭✭✭✭; Excellent: ✭✭✭✭; Very Good: ✭✭✭; Good: ✭✭; Promising: ✭]
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