As I am reviewing my snapshots and photos shared by fellow bloggers, Kathy and Neal Patterson of MinxEats.com at a media gathering at Little Italy’s latest addition Pane e Vino — I am salivating with sense memories of the appetizer sized and shareable dishes we tasted. The giant buffalo/ricotta meatball with rustic garlic toast is possibly “the best” meatball I have ever tasted; tender, moist – the perfect balance of meat and filling. Let me sing the praises of the sous vide calamari, broccoli rapini and tomatoes, sopping up the juices with the crusty bread. It was tough sharing it when I could easily have consumed the whole dish. These were two amazing dishes out of numerous shareable and small plate offerings we enjoyed that evening. The Piadina – grilled steak, stracchino, arugula, housemade harissa, pickled onions and the flatbread , more foccacia-like, porcini, prosciutto and Gorgonzola are shareable portions. No buffalo chicken wings at Pane e Vino, they offered chicken drumsticks instead with their harissa — clever using the chicken legs — everyone always goes for the drumettes on the wings. (Check out the slideshow.)
The tasting was a month ago and the menu has probably had seasonal changes as they rotate the mouth watering dishes by Chef Gianfranco Fracassetti —formerly imported from Bergamo,Italy by Sotto Sopra Restaurant, then to Café Troia, Pazza Luna and now is executive chef at Café Gia.
Pane E Vino, which translates to bread and wine, is situated right next door to and related to Café Gia on the corner of Eastern Avenue and High Street here in Baltimore’s Little Italy. Related, well the Blattermann family, Giovanna and her daughter Gia Fracassetti, own and operate Café Gia and Pane e Vino is the brother Steven’s bar, though Gia and Giovanna are both involved with Pane e Vino as is chef Gianfranco. Pane e Vino is really an extension of Café Gia, an intimate adjunct where guests can sit at the bar, have a cocktail or glass of wine, and a selection of Italian appetizer style dishes and wait for the table at Café Gia or just enjoy the intimate space for an aperitivo, indulging in Chef Gianfranco’s edibles and their curated cocktail list.
I’m a light weight when it comes to drinking, one drink and I’m buzzed, but I did taste and would order on return the Spicy Sicilian – Crater Lake pepper vodka, limoncello, kumquat syrup and fresh lemon or Redheads Have More Fun – Jose Cuervo, fresh blood orange, ginger beer, fresh lime on the rocks. You can stay traditionally Italian and order their rocking Negroni. Most cocktails are $10.
When Pane e Vino opens around 4:30 pm, you can easily find street parking and of course, you have the Little Italy parking lot or a few steps from Harbor East and the Harbor.
Pane e Vino – 408 S. High Street – Baltimore, MD 410 685-3300 Opened daily 4:30 pm Stay current as to new offerings and events at their Facebook page