Milan

Exterior of Milan in Little Italy, whose zoning regulations don't allow live entertainment. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / April 8, 2010)

The dancing days are over at Milan. The Little Italy establishment is now prohibited from allowing or providing live entertainment, including disc jockeys, on its premises.

The May 31 decision was made in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City in what amounted to a default hearing. No one representing Milan showed up.

Milan's opponents have long claimed that the establishment was a nightclub masquerading as a restaurant, and they have repeatedly pressed the Baltimore City Liquor License Board to take action. And while the liquor board has historically been the agency to discipline and sanction license-holding establishments, it was the city's Department of Housing and Community Development that scored the injunction against Milan. It came down to zoning

An affidavit entered by the plaintiffs for last week's hearing says thatMilan'sLittle Italy property isn't zoned for what Milan was using it for, namely live entertainment. The affidavit summarizes an undercover visit by a zoning inspector who had to pay a $40 "double cover charge" to enter Milan and observed dancing and disc jockeys playing live music on the first and second floors. "The music stopped only," the affidavit says, "when there was a fight on the first floor that necessitated the dispersal of the patrons in Milan."

Milan must now be a restaurant, the court says, which is the only thing its zoning status allows it to be.

Just months after its January 2010 opening, Milan survived an attempt by a neighborhood group to have its liquor license voided. But in February of this year, Milan was hit with $3,000 in fines for a slew of violations, including selling alcohol to a minor and failing to avoid disturbing the peace, not to mention a rodent infestation and unsanitary conditions. And on April 12, Milan had its license suspended by the board for one week, although it has remained open pending appeal.

Slings & Arrows Benjamin Lambert has left the executive chef position at Wit & Wisdom, Michael Mina's tavern in the Four Seasons Baltimore hotel. His departure was first made public, in all places, in a Washington Post dining review by Tom Sietsema.

Sietsema's 11/2 -star review wasn't a pan exactly, but it probably wasn't the review that the San Francisco-based Mina Group wanted.

Still, not many readers could have seen the surprise ending coming. "Shortly before this review went to press," Sietsema wrote, "Mina reached out to say he intended to name a new executive chef." There is no word yet on who Lambert's replacement will be.

The first of three concepts produced for the $200 million waterfront luxury hotel, Wit & Wisdom opened in November, followed by a European cafe named Lamill. The third concept, a Japanese small-plates restaurant named Pabu, opened just last month.

A second vintage Maryland Wine Week begins Friday and runs through June 17, and the Maryland Wineries Association is hoping Marylanders sip it up.

"We have 56 vineyards in Maryland now," said Regina McCarthy, the association's marketing director. "We want to shine a light on the restaurants, wine shops and wine bars that are pouring local."

The event lineup includes winemaker dinners, tastings and wine flights. The promotion's highlights include a June 12 Black Ankle Vineyards dinner at Ranazul in Maple Lawn (8171 Maple Lawn Blvd., 301-498-9666, ranazul.us) a Father's Day wine dinner at Red Red Wine (189B Main St., Annapolis, 410-990-1144, redredwinebar.com) and the Spring Jazz Festival on the grounds of Elk Run Vineyards this Saturday and Sunday (15113 Liberty Road, Mount Airy, 410-775-2513, elkrun.com).

For a complete list of events and promotions, go to marylandwineweek.com

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com


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