The "True Blue" program lets diners and shoppers know what's in their crab cake?
The "True Blue" program lets diners and shoppers know what's in their crab cake? (Baltimore Sun photo/Algerina Perna)

More than 50 restaurants have signed onto the Maryland's 'True Blue' certification program and marketing campaign. Launched this spring by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the 'True Blue' certification program allows restaurants serving DNR-verified Maryland blue crab products to use a special logo in marketing or advertising the product.

'True Blue' wasn't so much designed to convert restaurant owners and diners to Maryland crab meat as it was to help diners who want Maryland crab meat find restaurants that serve it. "We're not saying that imported crab meat can't be delicious," said DNR Fisheries Marketing Director Steve Vilnit when the program was announced. "We just happen to believe that fresh Maryland crabs are better."


Justin Moore, the executive chef at Vin 909 in Annapolis, says it's been hard to tell what the impact of the 'True Blue' campaign has been so far because his customers have come to expect him to use local ingredients, including Maryland crab meat. "The reaction seems to be more that customers can't believe other restaurants would not use Maryland crab," Moore said. "The certification solidifies their decision to eat with us."

The idea for 'True Blue' originated, partly, at a crabmeat taste-comparison conducted at Woodberry Kitchen for a Baltimore Sun story about the widespread use of imported crabmeat on Maryland menus. Spike Gjerde, Woodberry's chef and owner: "I told Steve (Vilnit) that there should be a labeling program."

The participating restaurants are located in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The program also includes retailers and caterers. More information about the 'True Blue' program can be found on the 'True Blue' website.

Who's true blue?

13.5% Wine Bar  
A Cook's Cafe, Annapolis
Angelina's of Maryland, Brooklandville
b, a Bolton Hill Bistro  
Bistro Bis, Washington, D.C
Blue Crab Cafe, Crisfield
Brooks Tavern, Chestertown
Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis
Cozy Restaurant, Thurmont
Crab Galley, Odenton
Crab Galley of Bowie,  Bowie
Crabbe Depot, Port Deposit
Cure Bar & Bistro, Washington
Davis' Pub, Annapolis
Dino, Washington
DuClaw Brewing Company, Bel Air
Equinox Restaurant, Washington
Fagers Island Restaurant, Ocean City
Garden and Garnish, Trappe
Goucher College    Towson
Grist Mill - Hilton Garden Inn, Washington, D.C.
Hooked Seafood & Sushi, Sterling
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina, Cambridge
J Paul's, Baltimore
Jimmie & Sook's, Cambridge
Kettle Hill, Baltimore
Lindy's Seafood, Woolford
Loco Hombre, Baltimore
Nick's Riverside Grill, Washington, D.C.
Ocean Odyssey, Cambridge
Olney Grille, Olney
Passionfish, Reston
Price's Seafood, Havre de Grace
Riccuti's Restaurant, Olney
Ryleigh's Oyster   
Sam's on the Waterfront, Annapolis
Seafood Supreme    Wilmington Del.
Snappers Waterfront Cafe, Cambridge
The Manor Tavern, Monkton
The Point Crab House & Grill, Arnold
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Lovettsville
The Shark on the Harbor, Ocean City
Today's Catch Seafood, Columbia
Tommy's Downtown Tavern   
Tony & Joe's Seafood, Washington, D.C>
Tyler's Crabhouse, Chesapeake Beach
Unum Restaurant, Washington, D.C.
Vidalia Restaurant, Washington, D.C.
Vin 909 Restaurant, Annapolis
Wit & Wisdom   
Woodberry Kitchen

In addition, these retailers, wholesalers and caterers have signed up for the True Blue program: Atwater's, Whole Foods Markets, Gourmet Again, Franks Seafood (Jessup), Tuckahoe Seafood Cordova), Coveside Crabs (Dundalk), Conrad's Crabs & Seafood Market (Parkville), Go Fish (Washington, D.C.), Gourmet Again (Pikesville), How Sweet It Is (Eden), Laughing Crab Catering (Havre de Grace), Rehoboth Seafood Market (Rehoboth Beach, Del.), Naturally Leavened Bread (Catonsville), Seafood Supreme (Wilmington, Del.), Root & Stem Catering (Falls Church, Va.), York Fish and Oyster Co. (York, Pa.), Zeffert and Gold Catering.