Hamilton-Lauraville is becoming one of Baltimore’s great food destinations, home to an increasing number of unique cafes and restaurants. In that collection, the neighborhood’s culinary-minded boosters often mention Char’d City, a new pizza place that opened this year in the former Clementine space from Tunisian chef Yassine Rmadhnia and his wife, Sindee Gibson.

The owners’ meet cute is worth telling. Rmadhnia was a breakdancer from Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, where his family owns a deli. When he wasn’t at home, he was traveling the world with his moves. One stop: Creative Alliance, where Gibson was working. They met, married, and this year opened Char’d City.


It turns out that in addition to dancing, Rmadhnia can cook. The chef, who became obsessed with wood-fired ovens while living in the U.S., offers a mix of wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas and a few Tunisian treats. Though Rmadhnia is proud of the cuisine of his home country, influenced by centuries of French, Ottoman and Byzantine rule, he didn’t want Tunisian food to dominate the menu, because: “I don’t think a lot of people would be very interested."

Instead, Char’d City is a celebration of Mediterranean food and the alchemical power of the wood-fired oven.

First impressions: Blink and you’ll miss the dimly lit exterior of Char’d City on Harford Road. The interior, which Rmadhnia largely built with his own hands, is designed to look burnt, as if a fire has just been put out, with blackened paint and charred wood on the walls. In the back, Rmadhnia keeps close eye on the imposing wood-fired oven.

Must-tries: Charring is a thing of beauty at the restaurant, whether on pizza or a blowfish-size bubble of bread, that releases steam when pierced and is the perfect canvas for an assortment of Tunisian-style dips, including grilled salad topped with tuna. When it comes to pizza, Rmadhnia cooks up a fantastic Napoletana with anchovies and a Tunisian tuna pizza inspired by his home country. Just 90 seconds in the 900-degree heat is all the dough needs to get that perfect leopard-spotted crust. (Gluten-free versions are available for an additional $3).

Even desserts get the char treatment, with apples blackened on the edges, and a Middle Eastern-tasting crumble of almond and rose water beneath it. We also enjoyed a Nutella-filled horn, sprinkled with pistachios, sent compliments of the chef.

It’s obligatory for Baltimore restaurants to offer at least one crab option, but Char’d City’s crab stromboli, salty and decadent with a blackened center, is more delight than duty.

Special touches: A piano sits near the entrance, and owners have plans to host live music and other events.

Pro tip: The restaurant is BYOB, with a $5 corkage fee per bottle of wine or 6-pack of beer. Beverage service is nearly non existent — they don’t even have coffee — though there are plans to serve complimentary mimosas with brunch, which will soon be offered on weekends. We’d love to see cardamom-infused Turkish coffee on the menu to accompany dessert, or sparkling water offered with entrees.

Bottom line: Char’d City doesn’t check off all the boxes that you might want at a thriving neighborhood establishment: It’s a bit hard to find, there’s no liquor license, no coffee and the menu is limited at lunchtime. But it succeeds where it counts: With plates of delicious food that you’ll still be thinking about for days, if not weeks later. I’m looking at you, crab stromboli.

Serves lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, with brunch on weekends. 5402 Harford Road, Hamilton. facebook.com/Chardcity. 443-760-1501.