Food & Drink

Open & Shut: The Coral Wig; Osteria Pirata; Friends Grille

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

The Coral Wig: The owners of Clavel, W.C. Harlan, and Fadensonnen have opened this new concept tucked in the alley of Ulysses hotel off East Read Street in Mt. Vernon. The Coral Wig is a tropical bar inspired by the islands of Lane Harlan and Matthew Pierce’s childhoods—Harlan was born in the Philippines, while Pierce lived in St. Kitts for a time. Fittingly, the menu highlights tropical classics like a daiquiri, margarita, and painkiller. House cocktails include the Estate Martini (rum, overripe pineapple, white vermouth, and Madagascar vanilla) and the Coral Wig Sour, made with Pisco, egg white, guava nectar, yerba mate, lemon, nutmeg, and safflower. There’s also a small selection of wines, beers, and spirit-free drinks. A happy hour runs from 5-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

With a design inspired by the clubs and bars of 1980s-era Manila, the cozy space seats 35 inside and features an outdoor patio. The bar, which is not a part of the hotel (it’s leasing the space to Harlan and Pierce and has its own entrance) was formerly a construction office for Ulysses, and Harlan, Pierce, and a team of artisans refurbished it from scratch. Design details executed in partnership with Joy Strom of Strom Interiors include green velvet banquettes, a hand-painted checkered floor, a black walnut bar, and amber stained glass. 

So where does the unique name come from? A piece of music that Pierce wrote based on an experience he had snorkeling in the Caribbean with Harlan. A school of squid stopped in front of her, and her long hair was floating around her, almost like a coral wig. 

Osteria Pirata: Chef Ashish Alfred is on a roll. After unveiling his ghost kitchen, Good Ducking Burger, in March and opening up Anchor Bar in late 2022, he’s back with the second of three concepts he signed on to launch inside the Admiral Fell Inn (located next door to his Fells Point brasserie Duck Duck Goose). Joining Anchor Bar, Osteria Pirata, which translates to “Pirate Cafe,” is now open next to the inn, in the space formerly home to Points South Latin Kitchen. 

Pirata bills itself as a neighborhood Italian eatery serving up classics with elevated twists. With a prime location along the hustle and bustle of Thames Street, the new concept’s menu features Italian pastas, wines, and meats. Surefire items include the arancini, chicken parmigiano, linguini with clams, blue crab panzanella, and the decadent, 24-layer chocolate cake. 

The Butcher and The ‘Wich: After taking a few weeks to transition its front retail space, JBGB’s in Remington is now home to a new daytime concept. Now open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Butcher and The ‘Wich offers spins on classics like a ham and cheese with housemade pickles and aioli; an Italian beef sandwich with cured beef chuck, provolone, garlic parmesan aioli, and giardiniera; and the highly requested double smashburger that is a favorite at JBGB’s sister-spot in Cockeysville. Patrons can also expect rotating specials and hot and cold salads. To (literally) top it off? The menu will also feature housemade vanilla and chocolate soft-serve ice cream. 

Rest assured, this doesn’t mean anything will change in the rest of JBGB’s operations. The whole animal butchery counter will remain, of course, and JBGB’s restaurant and bar will continue to focus on wood-fired pizzas, locally sourced entrees, and handcrafted desserts and cocktails. 

“It’s been two incredible, and at times challenging, years in Remington, and this next evolution of our concept is about continuing to serve the neighborhood and entire city through expanding our popular lunch program,” said Tyler Johnson, executive chef at JBGB’s, in a press release. “The support for our butchered items, pizza, and bar program have been incredible, and we can’t wait to give folks another reason to love JBGB’s.”


Whitehall Market: Change appears to be afoot at Whitehall Mill, the historic property turned communal food hall located along the Jones Falls in Hampden that debuted in 2020. Many vendors inside have closed their stalls, with most recent closures including Wight Tea Co. and Heritage Kitchen. The food market shared on its own social media that it’s “had a great run with our talented vendors, and we’re excited for their next chapter.” Baltimore has reached out to the mill for comment, but last month, developer David Tufaro told the Baltimore Banner that the closures are turnover from the vendors’ three-year leases expiring, and that it’s still searching for its next tenants. Stay tuned for more. 


6/3: Charles Street Promenade
This pedestrian takeover, created during the pandemic, returns with street-front activations, musical performances, and more—all in an effort to shine a light on Charles Street’s small businesses. The thoroughfare will be closed to vehicular traffic from Saratoga Street to North Avenue, where visitors can expect plenty of outdoor shopping, dining, and live music. Participating businesses include Brewer’s Art, Tree House Juicery (a brand-new, Black-owned juice bar), B.Willow, Cane Collective, and more. Performers include a harpist at the John Paul II Prayer Garden from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and bass trombonist Christian Hizon at An die Musik from 2-4 p.m. There will also be a plethora of walking tours and kids’ activities. Check the Charles Street Promenade website for the full schedule.

6/14: Rosé & Softshells at The Tilted Row
It’s the season of the softshell. If you’re craving one, consider this three-course dinner event at The Titled Row. The Bolton Hill gastropub, located inside The Jordan apartment building, will pair each course with a tasting of a special rosé selected by bar director Bryan Ranere. (Expect to be greeted with a rosé cocktail to boot.) Courses include a shaved scallop ceviche, baharat and cornmeal-dusted soft-shell crab, and a pistachio rose pavlova. The dinner runs $75, plus tax and gratuity. Book here.


Friends Grille: After three and a half years, this Pigtown bar closed on Carroll Street following Memorial Day weekend. “In short, we had a contract to purchase the property, but we were unable to secure the financing necessary to close the deal,” the bar wrote on Instagram. “Subsequently, the date on our contract expired, and we were unable to reach a short-term deal to continue at our current location.” But the owners remain optimistic: “We will have an announcement in the very near future regarding our next steps,” the post continues. The inviting spot—with a very fitting name—was best known for its community events, pub grub, and bell behind the bar—which staff would ring whenever patrons came in to share good news or big life events.