Review: Noona's

Noona’s keeps it casual in Bolton Hill.

John Farlow - September 2019

Review: Noona's

Noona’s keeps it casual in Bolton Hill.

John Farlow - September 2019

Fennel and sausage pizza at Noona's. -Photography by Kate Grewal

The Bolton Hill district continues to remake itself into an inviting cloister for residents and visitors alike. Narrower driving lanes, well-marked crosswalks, new curbs, and a dedicated bike lane have tamed Mt. Royal Avenue’s traffic, rendering it less of a speedway and more of a promenade. The tendrils of new openings probe this revitalized block, and Noona’s is the latest arrival.

Owner Phil Han’s credits include the Asian-inflected Dooby’s on North Charles and laid-back cocktail bar Sugarvale, as well as Fat Tiger and Old Boy’s in the newly renovated Broadway Market. Noona’s brings an Italian-inspired menu to students and longtime Bolton Hill residents alike, without white-tablecloth prices. On our visit, we were welcomed by an airy space with a minimalist aesthetic accented with cool metals, warm woods, and restrained dashes of color.

From bar stools to high tops to banquettes to outdoor tables, we had our pick of seating options. We took our seats inside and checked out the menu while sipping inventive cocktails, then began our meal with two small plates. We were delighted by fava beans in the farro salad, accompanied by roasted turnips, earthy sorrel, and bright pickled ramps. We also enjoyed the roasted broccoli’s interplay between zesty lemon accents and piquant tellicherry peppers.

As we polished off these delicious starters, we were enticed by the pizzas passing by, ultimately indulging in The Bambino. A toothsome and satisfying sourdough crust provided the foundation for a succulent dance of flavors—juicy fennel sausage, red onion, creamy ricotta, and spicy honey. We loved this spirited combination and were tempted to polish off the whole pie right there, but other plates beckoned to us, starting with the soft crab special.

This was offered as a sandwich or on its own, and we opted for the naked crab. Our crustacean arrived lightly battered and fried and accompanied by tartar sauce. The combination was beautiful in its simplicity and left us wanting another. Instead, we went with the roasted pork belly.

Here, chef Cai Lindeman (formerly of the Michelin-rated The Dabney in Washington, D.C.) revealed his understated creativity and sense of humor. Richly fatty pork belly arrived on a bed of charred cucumber, pickled mustard seeds, grilled onions, and radicchio. A dash of vinegar bound all these flavors together in a playful interpretation of a frankfurter accompanied with pickles, relish, and mustard. We wrapped our meal up with a sinful slab of lemon pound cake garnished with basil-infused blackberry compote.

Noona’s offers the wholesome yet uncomplicated casual dining that Baltimore needs—unfussy presentations, bright flavors, reasonable prices, and the deft hand of a good chef to bring them together. We’d like to see a bit more Italian-inspired focus on the wine list to support the flavors coming from the kitchen, but that’s a minor quibble for a restaurant with no fine-dining aspirations.


NOONA'S 1203 W. Mt. Royal Ave. 410-424-0857. HOURS: Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-9 p.m.; Tues.-Wed. 5-9 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri. 5-10 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-9 p.m. PRICES: Small plates: $7-10; pizza and entrees: $11-15; desserts: $3.50-8. AMBIANCE: Trendy casual.

You May Also Like

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Tire Shop Pop-Ups at Parts & Labor; Koba BBQ; TigerStyle

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

On The Town

Shark Week Specials Swimming Our Way in Baltimore

From themed food to aquatic events, sharks are lurking at local bars and restaurants.

The Chatter

New Club Brings Together Baltimoreans With Shared Dining Interests

As it develops, the Baltimore Supper Club hopes to bridge neighborhood gaps.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: Our Biggest Restaurant Pet Peeves

Plus, Dooby's owner opens Inner Harbor spot, our take on the chicken sandwich debate, and best bites.

Food & Drink

Waves of Grain

How craft beer has become the backbone of Maryland agriculture.

Connect With Us

Most Read

City Council President Brandon Scott Announces Mayoral Bid: Election for Baltimore’s top office expected to shape up as a generational battle.

Baltimore Clayworks and City Youth Create Tile-Mosaic Mural in Park Heights: Ceramic arts center partners with community organizations to bring the project to life.

History of Baltimore's Bygone Synagogues Captured in New Plein Air Art Exhibit: Collection of oil paintings on view at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation through October 28.

The Mare Projects Connects Communities in the African Diaspora: Works from their first-ever residency program will be on display at Gallery CA.

The Helmand Owners Look Back on 30 Years in Mt. Vernon: Qayum and Pat Karzai reminisce about their beloved Afghani restaurant.