Sunday, December 30, 2012

Aldo's Ristorante Italiano - Baltimore's Little Italy

St. Leo The Great church (est. 1881) 

After a beautiful Christmas Eve mass at St. Leo The Great Catholic church in Baltimore's Little Italy, my family and I walked a block and a half to Aldo's Ristorante Italiano for dinner.

Parking can sometimes be a challenge in Little Italy, so my parents like that we can   park the car once and be able to attend church then walk to dinner. 

Award winning, Italian-born chef Aldo Vitale, owns and operates this very popular fine dining restaurant that often attracts celebrities (check out the wall photos with Aldo and celebrities in the entrance near the bar).
There are several different seating areas, most of which are cozy rooms with about five to six large tables.
Enjoying warm bread w/olive oil 

Shortly after we were seated, a basket of warm Italian bread with an olive oil dipping sauce arrived. While we munched on our toasty bread, we checked out the menu.  For Christmas Eve, Aldo's offers both the regular Italian dinner items and the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner. Click here to read more about the Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner by famous chef Mario Batali. 

We all opted to order from the regular menu and the specials of the day. 

Bronzini fish with crab topping and lobster mashed potatoes
My mom and my grandpa both ordered the fish special - a boneless, filet of bronzini (also called the Mediterranean Sea Bass) topped with crabmeat stuffing and accompanied by lobster mashed potatoes and a vegetable. My grandpa and mom remarked how fresh and tender the bronzing was.  My grandpa thought the crabmeat topping overpowered the taste of the fish a bit. Conversely, my mom loved the abundance of crab meat. Both agreed the lobster mashed potatoes was a nice accompaniment. 

Amish chicken tenderloins 

My dad and brother ordered the Amish chicken tenderloins and artichoke hearts sautéed in garlic butter. The chicken was juicy, tender and well seasoned. The vegetables were caramelized, sweet and fork tender.  This dish really packed a punch of flavors.

My mom ordered a side of broccoli rabe.
It is a common vegetable 
in the cuisines of southern Italy. Its 
flavor has been described 
as nutty and bitter. It's often sautéed inolive oil and garlic.
My aunt ordered a side of mashed potatoes with her main entree. According to my aunt, it was a creamy garlic perfection. The presentation with weaves in the mashed potatoes was terrific.

My grandma and I ordered the jumbo shrimp scampi seafood risotto in garlic sherry butter.
This dish was amazing. The garlic sherry butter gave the entire dish a little kick. The creamy, soft, butter moistened rice was a fantastic compliment to the warm,firm texture of the shrimp. The dish presentation was nice - shrimp neatly placed on the outskirts of the plate surround the risotto. 

A salad with fresh sweet red and yellow beets, mixed greens, crumbled gorgonzola
toasted walnuts, and champagne vinaigrette. The ingredients were very fresh and light. The combination of the beats and walnuts with the champagne vinaigrette was very complimentary. 

We were too full to order dessert this evening, but we've had it in the past and it is ALWAYS delicious.

According to the restaurant website, in the early 1990's, Chef Aldo owned a wholesale bakery that "prepared and distributed delectable baked desserts to .... (places) such as Nordstrom cafes and Dean & DeLuca." This is probably why Aldo's desserts are consistently great.

The website also mentions that Chef Aldo gives cooking lessons to aspiring chefs and at special events.  We plan to inquire whether Chef Aldo has special events for aspiring student home cooks.  If the answer is yes, stay tuned for more of Aldo's.


- Charles 

Aldo's on Urbanspoon