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Entertainment Food & Dining

Hampden gets its own old-fashioned ice cream parlor

Laura and David Alima opened their Hampden ice cream shop, The Charmery, on Saturday.

The Charmery serves the Alimas' hand-crafted, made-on-premises ice cream in fresh scoops and in sundaes, sodas and milkshakes. The ice-cream menu includes traditional flavors as well as "distinctly Baltimore" flavors like Old Bay Caramel, lemon-stick sorbet and Zeke's Coffee.

The Alimas describe The Charmery as their dream project. They met in summer camp, when they were counselors at Bel Air's Habonim Dror Camp Moshava, familiarly known as "Camp Mosh." Laura was headed that fall to Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. David ended up transferring from the University of Maryland to nearby Ithaca College.

Laura has the background in the hospitality business. She graduated with a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Cornell and now serves as marketing director at Chef's Expressions, a Lutherville-based catering company.

David is the emperor of ice cream. His first experiments were on a home ice-cream maker that Laura received as a graduation present and quickly abandoned. He has since immersed himself in the world of ice cream, including training at Penn State's Ice Cream Short Course and the Frozen Dessert Institute in St. Louis.

The Alimas are serious about their sourcing. They're buying their cream from the highly regarded Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, Pa., and they are insisting on putting fresh fruit only, and not canned pulp, into their strawberry and mango ice creams.

The Charmery occupies a Hampden corner building that was once the Chestnut Pharmacy, which, for the Alimas, was a bit of destiny. Both have grandfathers who were pharmacists. David and Laura learned, after they had started dating, that their grandfathers were in the same year of pharmacy school in New Haven, Conn.

"And then we walk into this place, and it's a pharmacy," David said. "And we're like, 'This is it.' "

The Charmery is at 801 W. 36th St. It opens seven days a week at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

New in Little Italy Ozra, a Persian-Mediterranean restaurant, has opened, quietly, in Little Italy.

Ozra's formal opening, according to co-owner Reza Holland, is this Friday. Until then, Holland said, the restaurant will be asking in friends and family, but curious passers-by are being welcomed in to dine as well.

Ozra occupies a long-shuttered Stiles Street location that longtime Little Italy residents will remember as the Impallaria/Gramigna Bakery. Holland and his partner, Mahrdad "Max" Tabasi, purchased the building in 2009 and have spent the last 21/2 years completely renovating the property.

"We tried to work hard on the ambience," Holland said. "It's got a modern feel to it." Ozra will seat about 100 diners on its two floors.

The focus of Mediterranean menu, according to Holland, is on grilled items and skewered meats and seafood.

Ozra is at 806 Stiles St. For more information, call 410-528-2710 or go to ozrarestaurant.com.

Restaurant Week Baltimore Restaurant Week starts Friday. Some 100 restaurants are participating this year, offering specially created three-course menus for either $30 or $20, but not both.

The lower price was introduced a few years ago as an option for casual restaurants where a $30 menu would end up costing more than it typically would otherwise. So a $20 menu at one restaurant is not necessarily a better value than a $30 menu at another restaurant.

Among the restaurants offering the $20 dinner menu are Alexander's Tavern (710 S. Broadway.410-522-0000, alexanderstavern.com) in Fells Point, Amiccis (231 S. High St., 410-528-109, amiccis.com) in Little Italy, Mother's Federal Hill Grille (1113 S. Charles St., 410-244-8686, mothersgrille.com) and SoBo Cafe (6 W. Cross Street, 410-752-1518, sobocafe.net) in Federal Hill, and Verde ((641 S. Montford Ave., 410-522-1000, verdepizza.com).

For more information about Baltimore Restaurant Week and participating restaurants go to baltimorerestaurantweek.com.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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