Trattoria Alberto, 1660 Crain Highway, Glen Burnie, (410) 761-0922. A strip shopping center in Glen Burnie hardly seems like the place to go for excellent Italian food in attractive surroundings. But, once inside Trattoria Alberto, you'll start to change your mind. And you won't have to go much past the first course to begin believing that this is a fine restaurant. The handsome menu features 10 veal dishes, more than I've seen anywhere. But there is also a fine selection of seafood, as well as pasta and poultry. The service is nicely formal and the atmosphere reserved and not traditionally Italian. There isn't a red-checkered tablecloth to be seen. $$$ -- expensive. (Last visited 1/92).
China Taste, Perry Hall Crossing Shopping Center, 8750 Bel Air Road, (410) 529-9300. This month, a New Year's party refers not to silly hats and champagne, but hot tea and Sichuan. We celebrated the Year of the Monkey at China Taste, an exceptionally pretty Perry Hall restaurant with a rich, comfortable air and a distinctive way with sauces. The look and the cuisine are uptown, but the prices are pleasingly neighborhood. $ to $$ -- inexpensive to moderate. (Last visited 2/92.)
LYNN WILLIAMS Spike & Charlie's Restaurant & Wine Bar, 1225 Cathedral St., (410) 752-8144. Spike & Charlie's feels like a place where owners David "Spike" and Charlie Gjerde can work to music they like, pour wines that interest them, cook up good food and joke around all at the same time. Sure, they're working, but their efforts appear lighthearted. We liked so much the beautiful oysters, lasagnas, an oven-seared salmon filet, roasted rack of lamb with endive and mashed potatoes, and a hot, gorgeous apple crostada with homemade ice cream. $$$ -- expensive. (Last visited 1/92.)