You don't have to be Italian to open an Italian restaurant that generates a lot of interest, as Dino Zeytinoglu has proven. His La Famiglia is now open for business in the location where Brasserie Tatin was, at 105 W. 39th St.
Zeytinoglu must have had quite a following from his years at the now-closed Boccaccio in Little Italy, where he worked in the front of the house. I heard from readers when his new restaurant's scheduled opening was delayed, and even more people who haven't been able to find a phone number now that it is open. Zeytinoglu tells me he finally got a permanent number (443-449-5555) last Friday.
Zeytinoglu is trying to make La Famiglia the fine northern Italian restaurant Boccaccio was, but without the high prices. Specialties like Dover sole, prepared tableside, osso buco, soft-shell crabs in season and veal are priced in the 20s rather than 30s, with the most expensive item on the menu the beef tenderloin at $28. Pastas are all under $20.
Zeytinoglu has brought much of his old staff with him, including chef Fabio Mora, whom he coaxed out of retirement.
Boccaccio regulars also will recognize "legendary" bar manager Bert Quinn, who had been at the Little Italy restaurant for 20 years, from the time it was Capriccio.
The new owner has redecorated the Tatin space in warm colors, updated the bar and cut a direct route to the private dining room past the kitchen. He's also spaced the tables farther apart.
Street parking can be tough in this area, but La Famiglia has complimentary valet parking, or there's free parking in the lot across the street.
La Famiglia is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday though Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Still waiting As of this writing, the Carlyle Club at 500 W. University Parkway is still not answering its phone. The handsome Lebanese restaurant in a Homewood apartment house closed for renovations at the beginning of the year when it suffered water damage from an apartment above. It was supposed to reopen at the end of January.
I asked Keir Singh, one of the owners, whether the Carlyle Club would reopen given the economy. He said yes, but when I asked him if it would still be a Lebanese restaurant, he said, "Probably not."
Too bad. This was one of those restaurants that should have caught on, with its flavorful cuisine and elegant setting, but never quite did. Maybe it was the lack of street parking.
Reopening news And now for some good news. It looks like Patrick's of Cockeysville in the Cranbrook Shopping Center, which suffered extensive fire damage and has been closed for months, is finally reopening. The scheduled date is March 9.
"Just in time for our annual St. Patty's Day celebration featuring the afternoon march of the Loch Raven Pipe[s] & Drum[s] band on March 15 and lots of homemade corned beef and cabbage and Irish beverages," the owner and chef, Carole Brosso, told me. (Would those Irish beverages include - er, just a guess here - beer?)
In the same shopping center, Fazzini's Italian Kitchen, a neighborhood favorite known for its homemade pasta, has reopened after a six-week hiatus. The original owner, Nick Schweitzer, is back. (His "retirement" from the business lasted 15 months.)
deal of the week
Where: Brasserie 10 South, 10 S. Calvert St.
The Deal: Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres with $4 martinis, $3 mixed cocktails, $3 Stella Artois bottles and $2 Miller Lite bottles.