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Recent reviews

Capsules of recent reviews in the LIVE! section. Rankings are out of four stars.

Amicci's

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231 S. High St., Little Italy, 410-528-1096

Lunch and dinner daily

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Appetizers, $3-$9; entrees, $10.50-$15.50 (all major credit cards)

It is obvious why Amicci's has been a Little Italy favorite for so long: It serves good Italian food in heaping portions and at rock-bottom prices. Fat, flavorful shrimp, a sprightly homemade marinara sauce, beautifully cooked mushrooms and meltingly tender chicken are just a few of the pleasures that keep customers coming back again and again. An antipasto appetizer for two, a bargain at $9, is a gorgeous mess of textures and flavors that could easily serve three.

Food: ***

Service: ** 1/2

Atmosphere: ***

Ding How

631 S. Broadway, Fells Point, 410-327-8888

Lunch and dinner daily

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Appetizers, $1.50-$5.25; entrees, $5.95-$22.95 (all major credit cards)

Ding How may not be as cool or trendy as its Fells Point neighbors, but it offers good basic Chinese comfort food at very reasonable prices. The food is prepared with care, especially the beautiful, crisp-tender vegetables that appear in many dishes, including the tasty Hunan chicken and the whimsical seafood and vegetable "sculpture."

Food: ***

Service: ***

Atmosphere: * 1/2

Hull Street Blues Cafe

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1222 Hull Street, Locust Point, 410-727-7476

Appetizers, $5-$8.95; entrees, $12-$22 (all major credit cards)

Though it doesn't have blues music and isn't really a cafe, Hull Street is a delightful neighborhood restaurant and tavern, rich with history and charm. The menu is simple but good, with a focus on seafood, meat and pasta. Crab cakes burst with fat, sweet chunks of seafood and are elevated beyond the norm by the addition of a mustard-butter sauce. Filet mignon is hearty and satisfying. Desserts tend toward the homey.

Food: ***

Service: ***

Atmosphere: *** 1/2

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Costas Inn

4100 North Point Blvd., Dundalk, 410-477-1975

Lunch and dinner daily

Appetizers, $2.50-$11.95; entrees, $6.95-$26.95 (all major credit cards)

The Costas Inn has been an unpretentious Dundalk landmark since 1971, and the crowds still show up, ordering piles of crabs and pounding them to bits on tables covered with brown paper. Though everyone loves the crabs, the menu has plenty of other items, ranging from appetizers of oysters Rockefeller to main courses of barbecued ribs, crab imperial, steaks and lasagna. Standout dishes include a crab cake bursting with lumps of crab, barbecued ribs that are fall-off-the-bone tender and scallops that are exceptionally sweet.

Food: ** 1/2

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Service: * 1/2

Atmosphere: * 1/2

The Grille and Pub in Mountain Branch

1827 Mountain Branch Road, Joppa, 877-588-1492

Open for lunch and dinner daily, Sunday brunch

Appetizers, $3.95-$9.95; entrees, $6.50-$23.95 (all major credit cards)

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The view at Mountain Branch is stunning, with tables overlooking the first tee of the golf course and the rolling hills beyond, and the menu is a nice mix of seafood, steaks, burgers and salads. But this is still a golf-course restaurant, and though most of the dishes are up to par, only a few can be said to hit a hole in one.

Food: ** 1/2

Service: ***

Atmosphere: ***

blu

834 S. Luzerne Ave., Canton, 410-276-7100

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Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, dinner on Sunday, with Sunday brunch in the future

Appetizers, $4.99 to $7.99; entrees, $12.99 to $21.99 (all major credit cards)

Some may come to blu for the oxygen bar, but it is really the food that is a breath of fresh air. The bold Caribbean and Creole dishes taste like sunshine on a plate. Favorites include a boursin-stuffed filet mignon cooked to perfection, a spicy tomato-based seafood stew called court bouillon and a rasta island chicken with a cooling fruit salsa.

Food: *** 1/2

Service: *** 1/2

Atmosphere: *** 1/2

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Nam Kang

2126 Maryland Ave., 410-685-6237

Open: Lunch served Monday through Friday, dinner daily

Appetizers, $4.95-$8.95; entrees, $8.95-$18.95 (AE,MC,V)

Shortly after you arrive, bowl upon bowl of Korean-style appetizers will appear on your table free of charge, ranging from fiery slices of bok choy to cooling rectangles of tofu. The Korean, Japanese and Chinese dishes in this basement restaurant also range from fiery to soothing, and they include spicy hot pots and mild homemade noodles.

Food: ** 1/2

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Service: ***

Atmosphere: ** 1/2

Yin Yankee Cafe

105 Main St., Annapolis, 410-268-8703

Lunch and dinner daily

Appetizers, $2-$15.95; entrees, $17.95-$24.95 (all major credit cards)

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Yin Yankee takes beautifully fresh seafood and dishes it up with Asian flavors, creativity and a sense of humor. The bouillabaisse, with a tomato coconut broth, generous chunks of seafood and Chinese longevity noodles, can't be beat, and specials take advantage of what is freshest that day.

Food: *** 1/2

Service: **

Atmosphere: ***

Crackpot Seafood Restaurant

8102 Loch Raven Blvd., Towson, 410-828-1095

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Open for lunch and dinner daily

Appetizers, $3.95-$8.95, entrees, $8.95-$25.95 (all major credit cards)

The crab's the thing at the Crackpot, a Towson institution since 1979. Reserve your crustaceans in advance and get ready for a messy, marvelous meal. The menu is Maryland-tinged surf and turf, with lots of crabs, prime ribs and lobster. Rich and uncomplicated desserts are a fitting end to a satisfying meal.

Food: ***

Service: *** 1/2

Atmosphere: ** 1/2


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