The Italian Market
Nov 02, 2012 06:02PM
● By Anonymous
Formerly known as Cantina d’Italia, Ray Lubrano changed the concept 11 years ago from a traditional sit-down restaurant. Without losing the warmth and welcoming that the Italian are known for, Lubrano introduced The Italian Market, a full-service restaurant but without servers at your table. You still get good service, however, and wonderful food.
The restaurant has an outdoor Mediterranean feel. We sat under a beautiful “pagoda” by a fountain where we could observe everything occurring around us. This included an open kitchen, where we watched the food preparations, as well as a scrumptious-looking homemade ice cream display and a wine cellar.
We grabbed a menu, placed our order, picked up our drinks, and sat down at a table. A few minutes later, a young man brought us our first courses. The traditional Pasta e Fagiole ($4.99) was very good. This is one of my favorite types of soup, and the Italian Market’s version was authentically prepared with a rich broth garnished with white beans and pasta. Although we shared our soups, my dining companion picked the Cream of Crab ($6.50), which was just as delicious. It features strong flavors, a silky consistency, and a taste of cream reduction. The Greek Salad ($7.50) had caught our attention. You might say that this isn’t an Italian specialty, but all of the salad’s ingredients are regional to the Mediterranean. In this case, the salad was very fresh.
This opened up our taste buds for our entrees. We selected a rich Fettuccini Mediterraneo ($17.75), a wonderful bouquet of seafood, including shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat delicately simmered in a cream sauce over fettuccine pasta. What a treat!
Some of the most traditional Italian dishes require complex preparations that you won’t see reflected on the menu. With my background, I like to select these dishes to evaluate the skills of the kitchen. Therefore, I chose the Gnocchi Sorrento ($12.95). To get the perfect texture, you must have the right balance of potatoes, flour, eggs, and seasoning. Too much flour, and you’ll have gumballs; too much potato, and nothing will hold together. These particular gnocchi were perfect—tender and tasty, laced in a light and sweet tomato Parmesan cheese sauce, topped with mozzarella, and then baked.
To finish our dinner, we couldn’t resist trying homemade gelato ($4.50). Among a dozen flavors, we settled on the mixed berry and hazelnut, which were both simply delicious, creamy, smooth, and a perfect close to the dinner.
Laura Lubrano-DiBiasi, the owner’s daughter, joined us at the end of dinner to give us an overview of the operation. The carry-out business is strong for the restaurant, which also offers catering. There are two main weekly specials: Monday’s pizza day (buy one large pizza and get a medium cheese for $1) and Tuesday’s pasta day (buy a pasta entrée and get a second one for $1). A strong core of loyal customers has become part of the Lubrano family, she says. Her father, Ray, who is a native of Napoli, Italy, joined us at the table and discussed the concept of the restaurant—how he is able to pass the savings along to his guests. He took us on a tour of the wine shop, where the variety and selection were just amazing—there were wines I forgot even existed! With the holidays just around the corner, you will be able to enjoy traditional Italian dishes rarely found in Maryland, such as Old World Torrone, Pesce Bacala, Pizza Rustica, and specialty Panetones. The Lubranos’ goal is to introduce authentic Napolitano holiday traditions to the customer.
After all these years and with a wonderful family, the passion and hospitality Lubrano shares is truly unique. Thanks to Laura and Ray, we had a memorable time at The Italian Market. ■
“These particular gnocchi were perfect—tender and tasty, laced in a light and sweet tomato Parmesan cheese sauce, topped with mozzarella, and then baked.” — Gilles Syglowski
When to Enjoy
9:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday to Thursday;
9:30a.m.–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday;
10 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday
Expect to Pay
Wine: $4.25/glass and $14.45/bottle