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Willow now open in Fells Point

Ryan Perlberg's mark on Fells Point continues to grow at a rapid rate.

On July 13, after three months of preparation, the Stuggy's and Rye co-owner opened Willow, his third establishment in the popular Baltimore neighborhood.

Willow is a Latin-fusion lounge focusing on Rye mixologist Doug Atwell and Julia Momose's hand-crafted cocktails and Stuggy's chef Benjamin Poison's take on Mexican food.

If Perlberg's expansion resembles a corner of a "Monopoly" board — Stuggy's, Rye and Willow are all next to each other on South Broadway — it was not by design, he says.

"When we got here, no one wanted to do anything with this block," Perlberg said. "When Rye became available, it was a defensive move to protect our investments. We're very humble people without egos. We just wanted to bring good concepts to our neighborhood."

For Perlberg, "good concepts" means paying attention to details, such as using locally grown produce and pushing the drinks beyond banalities.

Shots ($7 and called "abbreviations") aren't typical — the Tightrope has pineapple tequila and cardamom syrup, while the Dirty Ginger is a mixture of strawberry tequila, rhubarb bitters and cranberry juice. The Blackberry Belle cocktail has blackberry bourbon, muddled orange, cardamom syrup and angostura bitters. For something lighter, the Eastside features green tea gin, mint syrup, lime juice and club soda. All cocktails (called "infusions") cost $10.

The kitchen (which pulls double duty making Rye's menu, too) serves familiar dishes such as tacos, quesadillas and nachos. There are also lobster empanadas ($15) and spicy crab guacamole with house-made chips ($15).

A late-night menu offers food from 10 p.m. until last call. Along with the lobster empanadas, the shortened menu offers smoked wings in a house-made adobe/chipotle sauce ($10) and crab and shrimp B.L.T. flatbread ($17).

Despite the three restaurants' close quarters, Perlberg says each place will have its own identity.

"[Willow] is not an extension of Rye," he said. "We want customers to know they can get high-quality stuff. But the truth is, it's quite a departure."

Willow is open 5 p.m.-2 a.m., seven days per week. For more information, check out willowbaltimore.com.

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