301 S. Water St., 410-244-1885. Open 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m Mondays-Fridays, closed weekends
Rosina Gourmet is a bright spot in a corner of old, dark Baltimore. The official address is 300 E. Lombard St., but the most visible entrance is just off the corner of Water and South streets. Apparently it is possible to wend your way to Rosina Gourmet from the Lombard Street entrance, but only denizens of the building know the route. In the quirks of this ancient part of the city, South Street starts off as Guilford and changes names once it crosses Baltimore Street.
This place is worth finding. An offshoot of the Rosina Gourmet in Canton, this operation offers high-quality sandwiches, salads and soups with an Italian accent. There are a few tables, chairs and stools. I loved the bright red, futuristic plastic stools that looked like they came from Star Trek. Much of the business is takeout.
The soups and other items, I was told, are made at the Canton locationand then spirited to Water Street. The cup of chicken dumpling soup ($3.99 for 12 ounces) I sampled was loaded with chunks of moist chicken meat, plus carrots, peas and more than a few dumplings.
The sandwich offerings are extensive, but I chose a relatively straightforward one, fresh mozzarella, tomato and olive oil on ciabatta bread, for $6.99. Since it had so few ingredients, each component of the sandwich had to be fresh and flavorful. They were. The mozzarella, made with cow's milk, was moist and delicate. The olive oil was a smooth extra virgin. The tomatoes were not bad for winter. The bread, a ciabatta square, was brought in, I was told, from a New York bakery. It was perfectly crusty.
The small Caesar salad, $4.99, had pieces of hand-torn romaine lettuce, homemade croutons and a tangy dressing. This salad came in components in separate compartments. Thanks to all those gifts I assembled over the holidays, I was easily able to put this salad together.
The peanut butter cookie, $2.50, was large and chewy.
It was easy to drop close to $20 on lunch, as I did, at the Rosina Gourmet. Once you find it, you are likely to return.
Best bite: Fresh mozzarella sandwich