Dinner at a B&B;
I've been hearing good things about the Vandiver Inn lately, and it turns out that the Havre de Grace bed and breakfast has a new chef (as of this fall), 26-year-old Robert Scardina. He describes his food as "modern American with a Southern flair," with Thai and Italian thrown in for good measure. The menu, with dishes like grilled shrimp in a lattice pastry basket and beef medallions with a merlot sauce, changes weekly. The inn's dining room serves dinner Friday and Saturday nights, by reservation only, (410) 939-5200. The address is 301 S. Union Ave.
Tully's gets new owner
Tully's, one of those family restaurants that doesn't get the press but does get the customers, has changed hands. The Fullerton eatery's new owner, Mike Hyle, is keeping the beef and seafood menu much the same but expanding it to include new dishes like stuffed pork chops, "super salads" (with meat) and "small eater" portions. Kids will enjoy the magician Friday and Saturday nights. Tully's is at 7934 Bel Air Road.
The owners of Il Porto, Little Italy's newest restaurant at 1012 Eastern Ave., describe their "Southern Italian nouvelle cuisine" as the newest style of contemporary cooking. By that they mean dishes like the house specialty, lobster Rafael, involving lobster, crab and shrimp in a "pink cream sauce." Look for fresh game on the specials menu as well as the more usual seafood and pastas.
Contemporary means really contemporary: The restaurant requires its chef to travel to Naples every six months to get the newest recipes and techniques.
Fine dining guide
Distinguished Restaurants of North America, a nonprofit group promoting fine dining, has a new pocket directory out that lists its DiRoNA Award winners. (Restaurants are judged by anonymous inspection every three years.)
Maryland recipients are Northwoods, Brass Elephant, Hamptons, Prime Rib, Tragara in Bethesda and Rudys' 2900. All those are worthy, but you can see that plenty of fine restaurants have been left out. Still, the guide could be useful if you're traveling to an area you're not familiar with. To get a copy for $9.95, call (408) 649-6542.