Bits & Bites: The Tillery aims to ‘put Owings Mills on the map,’ Vegan Restaurant Month begins, O.C. boardwalk gets cheesy

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Soon after moving to Owings Mills, John Creger noticed: “There’s nowhere to eat around here.”

That will soon change, says Creger, head chef at The Tillery, a new bar and restaurant inside the Marriott Owings Mills Metro Centre. “We’re about to put Owings Mills on the map.”

The bar area at The Tillery, which opened this year in Owings Mills and features chef John Creger, formerly of Fuisine.

Baltimore foodies may know Creger’s cooking from Fuisine, a corner restaurant he opened in Canton just before the pandemic.

Fuisine’s customers might drive from as far as Pennsylvania, said Creger, a Baltimore native who previously worked at famed New York restaurants like Le Cirque. For a while there, Fuisine seemed to be been blowing up Instagram with offerings like crab dip arancini and a decadent lobster pasta dish.


But it wasn’t just Instagram that noticed Creger’s cooking. Some Fuisine regulars liked Creger’s food so much they asked him to help launch The Tillery, which opened this year at the Metro Centre development.

With Creger in the kitchen, look for items like pappardelle Bolognese with a pancetta and beef ragu, with some more adventurous bar snacks like cauliflower bringing back memories of Fuisine.

The bar menu also offers Fuisine’s salty signature “smashburger,” which I’d imagine is popular with the many Ravens’ rookies who practice at the team’s facility nearby.

“They eat a lot of burgers and meat,” Creger says of the athletes who order frequently from the restaurant.

Though Creger shut down Fuisine in December, he’s firm that it will reopen at some point at a different location. “Fuisine was very close to me. That passion is not dead,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Fuisine will be back.”

On the bar menu at The Tillery in Owings Mills is crispy cauliflower served with saffron aioli, a throwback to chef John Creger's previous restaurant, Fuisine.

Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month

If you missed Baltimore’s restaurant week, never fear. Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month starts Friday and runs through Aug. 28, bringing a parade of plant-based dishes to restaurants across the Baltimore and Washington region.

Organizers Samantha Claassen of Golden West Café and Naijha Wright-Brown of The Land of Kush launched the first Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week in 2017; since then, the idea has spread to Philadelphia, Colorado Springs and beyond. The event not only highlights vegan restaurants but challenges omnivorous eateries to expand their plant-based offerings.

Participants offering a range of plant-based dishes include Miss Shirley’s Cafe, Gangster Vegan, Cafe Fili, Treehouse Café and Juice Bar, Harmony Bakery, Roland Park Bagels, WOW Vegan Treats, Underground Pizza, The Verandah, Liora, Double Zero and Johnny Rads.


What I’m eating right now

Owner Ida Koci mixes up the signature dish at Cheese Wheel Pasta, a new arrival to Ocean City's Boardwalk.

While researching places to eat in Ocean City, I stopped by Cheese Wheel Pasta. The newcomer to theboardwalk offers plain pasta sautéed inside a huge wheel of Parmesan cheese.

Owners Ervis and Ida Koci, originally from Albania, learned about the technique while living abroad in Italy. Grandmothers there have swirled pasta in cheese wheels for generations, ensuring as little as possible goes to waste.

If a trip to the beach doesn’t typically have you craving cheesy, creamy bowls of pasta, you may change your tune after a visit to this tiny trattoria. The spot is already seeing repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations.


A food writer closes her tab

Writing about John Creger’s move to Owings Mills brings me to another announcement.

After more than six terrific years at The Baltimore Sun, I’m packing up my forks for the next adventure.

My editors have sent me to try multicourse menus in Frederick and turkey wings in Cambridge. I’ve assessed the area’s top snowballs, chicken wings, pizza, barbecue and crab cakes. We’ve told you about $25 meals and $200 caviar.

I’ve been part of a newsroom made up of reporters, photographers and editors whose knowledge, skill and professionalism is matched only by their commitment to this city.

I am so grateful for The Sun’s readers, and particularly all of you who emailed me with tips, compliments and recommendations. You have made this job as delightful as dinner out with friends.

Look for a new byline on Bits & Bites, and email tips and restaurant news to