Costiera: You might remember Brian Lavin and Sam White, the hospitality veterans whose culinary adventures in Spain and Europe provided the inspiration for the much-lauded Gnocco in Highlandtown—which closed in 2019. The duo resurfaced this past summer with a new concept, Costiera, holding recurring pop-ups at Southpaw in Fells Point. Now, the Coastal Mediterranean-inspired operation has a brick-and-mortar home of its own.
Up and running in the former Clark Burger building near Little Italy, Costiera serves up fresh pastas, seafood dishes, and an amaro-driven cocktail menu.
“We wanted to do a more coastal seafood, vegetable-oriented Italian restaurant,” chef Lavin says. “A lot of the others in the area are more chophouse- and steak-forward. We’re going for more seafood, and something a bit lighter.”
Menu highlights include whole wheat tagliatelle, squid-ink gnocchi (a staple from Gnocco), and two seafood crudos (tuna or Long Island scallops.) The menu leans toward small plates and pastas meant for sharing, but also lists entrees like a whole fish and pork chop. Lavin says to expect more large plates in the form of specials.
With a tavern liquor license, Costiera is open Monday through Saturday—meaning brunch plans aren’t in the works. But with its location near many offices and two hotels, Lavin hopes to launch lunch service soon.
The space features big glass windows, a 12-seat bar, and a mural near the entryway by local artist Chelsea Henery—who is also behind the famous exterior murals at Bmore Licks. Lavin says he and White originally looked at the hallowed space once home to Grand Central in Mt. Vernon, but the buildout would’ve exceeded their budget. Then a friend called about the closure of Clark Burger in November.
“I feel like we fell into a great spot, because as soon as we looked at this space, Central Avenue finally cleared up,” Lavin says, referencing longtime construction work. “It was such a mess for so long. We really lucked out with our timing.”
Prim & Proper: This new restaurant in the former home of Chez Hugo Bistro and LōCal downtown unites two powerhouse hospitality groups—plus a chef who is very familiar with the space. Chris and Janeen Simon of Outkrowd Restaurant Group (which operates BLK Swan in Harbor East) and Berry and Janell Clark of Clark Hospitality (which operates Papi Cuisine in South Baltimore) will officially debut Prim & Proper at 206 E. Redwood St. tonight at 5 p.m. The four restaurateurs have known each other behind the scenes, and have long discussed joining forces.
“That was always our goal,” Janell Clark says. “Papi Cuisine is Papi Cuisine in its own right, and BLK Swan is BLK Swan in its own right. How about we do something together and bring the city something that they haven’t seen before, something with a bigger impact?”
At Prim & Proper, expect French-American cuisine from an open kitchen helmed by chef Calvin Riley, who previously ran LōCal in this exact space. “We saw and recognized his talent,” adds Chris Simon. “We wanted to make sure he was included in this project where he’d have the support team around him.”
To pair with Riley’s dishes—including pan-seared foie gras, lobster ravioli, and fried chicken with caviar—Prim & Proper offers a formal atmosphere (think: white tablecloths and staff in blazers made by local clothier DIFFERENTREGARD) with glamorous design details like yellow banquettes, a black-tile fireplace, and a combined piano-DJ booth.
Diners can also expect a curated wine list from Janell Clark, who is also a sommelier. “I wanted to introduce Baltimore to varieties that you don’t see often on wine lists, like a Beaujolais and a Vouvray,” Janell Clark says. The cocktail list includes a Hennessy espresso martini and a hibiscus tea margarita. “It comes out in a tea set with special music—it’s really a showstopper,” Chris Simon says of the latter.
Later this spring, Prim & Proper will debut a social club upstairs.
“We’re excited about the concept,” Janell Clark says, “and excited to show Baltimore something that they haven’t seen before.”
Nana: On the heels of receiving a James Beard Award nomination with the team at his popular Remington mezcaleria, Clavel, chef Carlos Raba opened his highly anticipated new concept, Nana, in South Towson this week. The all-day spot has been in the works for more than two years now, and offers simple, flavor-packed dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—much like the Mexican diners and taquerias Raba remembers from his childhood in Sinaloa. Arrive hungry for tacos, quesadillas, tortas, bacon-wrapped hotdogs, and whole rotisserie chickens. Thinking about stopping by this weekend? We suggest getting there early, as yesterday’s strong debut led to a sellout.
Catalog Coffee: It seems a grand opening is imminent for Catalog Coffee, a new concept from Dave Sherman of the former Ground & Griddled at R. House and Cafe Cito in Hampden. The coffeehouse and cafe will be located on the Avenue in Hampden, offering java drinks and teas including matcha, housemade cold brews, and hydrogenated teas. Food items will include Sherman’s famous biscuit sammies during both breakfast and lunch. So, why Hampden? Last year, Sherman told us he noticed that there was “a real void in breakfast hours” on the Avenue, citing Spro’s closure and Common Ground’s move around the corner to Chestnut Avenue. “We felt like there was a real need for a morning and afternoon gathering spot with a lot of intention and thoughtfulness,” he said. “We’re excited to be back.”
2/3: Ice Cream for Breakfast at The Charmery
Who says you can’t have ice cream for breakfast? Certainly not The Charmery. In celebration of National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (yes, it’s a thing!) on Saturday, the local ice cream chain will open all of its shops at 10 a.m. Expect special breakfast-themed flavors (like an espresso ice cream with almond biscotti bits), vanilla latte waffle cones, donut sundaes, and other fun items.
2/13: Fat Tuesday at NOLA Seafood & Spirits
Mardi Gras is just around the corner. Naturally, NOLA Seafood & Spirits in Fed Hill is going big. Since it opened in 2021, NOLA has aimed to fulfill Baltimoreans’ Big Easy fix with a host of New Orleans-inspired cocktails and eats. And although every Tuesday is “Fat Tuesday” there (think: $8 Sazeracs and tacos), expect a massive bash with beads and King Cake galore on Feb. 13. Stay tuned for details on NOLA’s social pages.