Barracudas returns, Cross Street Market fills up, founder’s great-grandson to reopen Velleggia’s – Baltimore Sun
Baltimoreans have long memories, especially when it comes to food. Just ask anyone over a certain age The Marconi House Where by Haussner. Both places closed long before I even moved to Baltimore, but I heard so much about these restaurants that I absorbed the nostalgia for Haussner’s Strawberry Pie.
This week, I have news about a long-closed Little Italy restaurant making a return to one of the city’s historic public markets. But first, I have news from a bar coming back from a fire.
Heart’s famous song “Barracuda” opens with the lyrics: “So it’s not the end”.
The same could be said for Locust Point Barracuda Tavern. Nearly a year after closing its doors following an electrical fire, the East Fort Avenue restaurant is busy hiring staff and preparing to open its doors.
“It’s been a difficult year,” said the general manager Sam Stinchcomb. The fire, caused by a cordless leaf blower in the building, “has turned our world upside down”, she said. While the firefighters intervened quickly to put out the flames, “everything had to go. There wasn’t much to salvage. This included signed football players’ shoes and shirts collected by the tavern’s chef and owner, Stinchcomb’s boyfriend Billy Hughes.
Over the past year, Stinchcomb said she and Hughes have done pop-ups all over town, at one point working in the basement kitchen of a local church. “We also took the time to take care of ourselves and our mental health and to process what happened.”
After a year-long renovation, the space is “a little different,” Stinchcomb said. “We have a lot more storage, which we are very excited about. There will be a bar upstairs. Everything is going to be new, which is nice. The menu will be a little shorter than before the fire, with an assortment of daily specials.
Weeks before reopening, Stinchcomb said he heard from customers who were eager to return. “It’s really comforting. Hearing people say they miss us is really nice.
About a mile from Barracudas, Federal Hill’s Cross street market is at the dawn of another new era.
The market reopened in 2019 after a major renovation courtesy of Partners of the Valley of Cellarswhich operates the municipal market under a long-term contract.
In the years leading up to the renovation, some neighbors protested that the market was going upmarket as several longtime sellers left, including Nick’s Inner Harbor Seafood. This watering hole, known for its giant beers, has been replaced by Watershedan upscale seafood restaurant owned by the Atlas Restaurant Groupwho also runs a seafood stand in the new market.
But overall, things seemed to be heading in the right direction at the start of 2020, according to Arch Mirmiran of the Valley of the Cellars.
Then the other shoe fell off. “The pandemic has hit [Cross Street] at the worst time of his life,” Mirmiran told me earlier this year. Customers couldn’t even enter the building for months. Even after the easing of pandemic restrictions, many sellers saw a sharp drop in foot traffic.
A few months ago, Mirmiran seemed uncertain about the future of the market, which saw a wave of departures as Caves Valley increased rents to pre-pandemic levels. “It’s really difficult right now,” he told me.
This spring, Caves Valley announced a partnership with Atlas Restaurant Group to support Cross Street’s marketing and events. (Incidentally, the founder of Atlas Alex Smith is the grandson of fire John Paterakisbusiness owner and real estate developer who ran the city’s market system for years in the 90s.)
I caught up with Mirmiran this week to see how things were going.
“A lot of things came together in a relatively short period of time. I think we are firmly back on track. I think right now we have more leased market share than ever. By fall, we will definitely have more busy market than ever.
Among the new tenants: Empanadas DMVan Indian shop called Krishna aunt and an Italian joint that I’ll tell you about in a moment.
Mirmiran says he hopes the few remaining stalls will soon be rented out. “We are talking to a pit beef operator. We’re talking to a guy who’s doing a Creole concept on the revival of royal farms paralyze.”
Atlas is also taking over management of the Market’s beer and cocktail bars, which will be owned by the Market. They were once occupied by can filling station and Old Line cocktail and wine bar. Both concepts closed this year.
All new tenants will not be selling food or beverages.
Audacitywhich owns several radio stations that broadcast in Baltimore, including sports radio station 105.7 The Fan and Today’s 101.9, will install a remote radio booth in the market starting this fall.
“I think it’s going to be kind of a cool draw for the market,” Mirmiran said.
Get the inside scoop on this new restaurant, find out about chef changes and discover your new favorite recipe. All your Baltimore food news is here.
One of the newcomers to Cross Street Market has his roots in Little Italy.
by Velleggiaa longtime restaurant in Little Italy that closed circa 2008, will return to the space once occupied by Rooster + Hen.
The company comes courtesy of the local chef Brendon Hudsonwhose Great grand-parents, Enrico and Maria “Miss Mary” Velleggia, founded Velleggia’s, originally called Enrico’s Tavern, in 1937 after emigrating from Italy.
Hudson grew up helping out in the restaurant when his grandfather owned it, starting as a host when he was just 8 years old. “Of course, I would put everyone at the wrong table. No one could get angry because I was the owner’s grandson. This helped inspire her passion for hospitality and her decision to attend the culinary school of the famous Culinary Institute of America.
With his companion, David MonteagudoHudson also runs the Mt. Vernon Cafe Allora and Luxury caterer Liliahna. But Hudson said Velleggia’s was “on our list of concepts to open.”
Market representatives first approached him at the end of 2021 with the idea of duplicating Allora at Cross Street. Given that Allora had only opened its doors a few months prior, Hudson didn’t think the time was right. But, “They were persistent, they definitely wanted us there somehow.” During a meeting with Mirmiran, Hudson floated the idea of revamping Velleggia’s. His reaction, Hudson recalls: “We have to do it.”
To prepare, Hudson began dusting off old Velleggia menus from the 1960s as well as the restaurant’s old reservation book. Hudson plans to reach out to old regulars to invite them to the grand opening, hopefully in late summer or early fall. He even plans to keep a pasta dish on the menu which will be set at 1960s prices.