Sfuzzi, 100 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-8500....


Sfuzzi, 100 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-8500. The food is cucina rustica gone high-style. The format is yet another upscale

restaurant chain. The result is one of Baltimore's hottest new eateries. If we'd had nothing but first courses and desserts, I'd have nothing but good to say about Sfuzzi. My recommendations: warm portabella mushrooms with asparagus tips, Tuscan white bean soup, baked eggplant, pizzas and dessert. Try the creme brulee, the cappuccino pie or the tiramisu. What didn't we like? Seafood in marinara was too spicy to eat, even for my asbestos-tongued friend, and the salmon wasn't as fresh as it could have been.

-- moderate. (Last reviewed 2/93.)

Vanguard Cafe, 405 N. Charles St., (410) 837-6621. Rarely does the design of a restaurant so completely overshadow the food, which in this case is pleasant but hardly memorable. The funkiness of the dining room is belied by the menu's hot crab dip, chicken salad and quiche of the day. The good news is that this kitchen understands soups (broccoli with Cheddar was outstanding); I can also recommend the shrimp salad on a croissant. The Vanguard Cafe isn't primarily a coffee bar, but it does offer the currently popular cappuccinos and caffe lattes. It's open until 3 a.m. on the weekends, which should make Baltimore's night owls happy.

$ -- inexpensive. (Last reviewed 2/93.)


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