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Entertainment Food & Dining

Table Talk: The Mallet stakes a claim to Fallston's hearts and appetites

How many cars do you reckon pass each day through the intersection of Mountain Road and Belair Road in Fallston?

Tony Ashe says about 85,000 cars, give or take a Buick, are swinging near the Mallet Restaurant and Crabhouse, his new multilevel, multipurpose establishment on this well-traveled stretch of Harford County. This crossroads has been home to a long succession of restaurants and roadhouses, most notably Pecora's, a nightclub that hosted acts like the Four Tops, Vic Damone and Frank Sinatra Jr.

Its prime location is just one reason why Ashe, the head of an ownership consortium, is bullish on the Mallet's prospects. "We came out of the gate pretty strong," Ashe says. And residents of this rapidly growing section of Harford County have been hungry for an alternative to the chain restaurants that dominate this area, he added. "People are grateful to [have] an independently owned place to go to."

In renovating the 13,000-square-foot space, the owners have created a variety of spaces and environments to suit all comers. The upper level includes a martini and tapas bar, a dining deck, private meeting rooms and a white-tablecloth dining room. The lower level houses the Tiki Bar, a multifunctional space that can accommodate over 300 guests for live entertainment.

Year-round steamed crabs will always be a major Mallet draw, but Ashe is confident that the regular seafood, pasta and beef menu will attract a loyal crowd. For good reason, many would say. Ashe turned to Christa and Davide Rossi, formerly of Pazza Luna, to help get the Mallet swinging. It is not Pazza Luna revisited, though. Fans of Rossi may recognize a few dishes, like the Frutti di Mare, but the Mallet's menu bears little resemblance to Pazza Luna's.

Ashe credits Rossi, though, with lending his expertise to the Mallet's menu development. "Davide has been so instrumental in helping us with recipe creation," Ashe says. Christa Rossi has worked with Ashe to set standards for the Mallet's front-of-house operations.

The Mallet is at 2403 Bel Air Road. For information call 410-877-2722 or go to malletrestaurant.com

It's melting! Grilled Cheese & Co. opened in Federal Hill on Nov. 18. The new restaurant takes over the Dangerously Delicious Pies space on the block of Light Street just north of Cross Street Market. This makes three, including the original in Catonsville and a second store in Sykesville.

The new Grilled Cheese & Co. is open Sunday through Wednesday, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 2:30 a.m.

Grilled Cheese and Co. is at 1036 Light St. Call 410-244-6333 or go to ilovegrilledcheese.com

A brand-new Lunchbox Within the next week or two, Bryan Voltaggio will open a new lunch-only eatery in Frederick, five blocks from Volt, his flagship restaurant. Its name is Lunchbox.

Located on Frederick's Carroll Creek Promenade at 50 Carroll Creek Way, adjacent to the Frederick County Library, Lunchbox is intended as a "stop for parents to grab a nutritious lunch for the kids" and a place for Frederick's professionals to grab something on the go.

Just last week, Volt announced the elimination of its lunch service along with the expansion of its dinner service. In a statement to the press about Lunchbox, Voltaggio said, "I had been thinking about cutting back our lunch hours at Volt when this opportunity presented itself. A former coffee shop in need of a coat of paint was the perfect place to open the doors for lunch."

Moving lunch operations to Lunchbox will let Voltaggio focus on dinner at Volt, he says. "By separating our lunch and dinner service into two separate restaurants, each can fully concentrate on delivering the best meal possible."

Lunchbox will feature gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. Patrons will be able to dine in the 30-seat restaurant or take their meals to go. Offerings will include items such as Cuban jerk pork shoulder hoagie, blue crab rolls, roasted butternut squash with caramelized apple soup, and chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches.

For information go to voltlunchbox.com

Two guys and a cafe Jack and Zach Food has opened in the lower-level Woman's Industrial Exchange where Sofi's Crepes was until recently.

Jack is Jack Neill, 22, and Zach is Zachary Schoettler, 21. Baltimore natives, Neill and Schoettler met while attending the Baltimore School for the Arts, where they were in the visual arts program.

Jack and Zach Food doubles as a cafe and a commissary/sales outlet for the team's pickled vegetables, sausages and vegetable patties, which they've been selling at area farmers' markets.

For now, Jack and Zach Food is open on weekdays for breakfast (homemade granola) and lunch (hummus sandwiches, sausage sandwiches).

Jack and Zach Food is at 333 N. Charles St. For information go to jackandzachfood.com.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com

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