In the city of neighborhoods, Baltimoreans often stay close to home to dine out. It’s a tendency that’s caught the notice of Ed Bosco, owner of Verde, the beloved Canton pizzeria. Bosco, who once lived in Brooklyn, New York, remembers traveling to Queens for a great hot dog or City Island for mussels and clam sauce. “In Baltimore, they don’t really do that,” he said. “The Fed Hill crowd, they don’t really come to Canton and vice versa.”
So Bosco is bringing his pizza to Fed Hill with Key Neapolitan by Verde, a pop-up at a former gas station at 1302 Key Highway that will sell a pared-down menu from Verde. Leading operations is Verde manager Mack Fowler, Bosco’s partner on the project.
In lieu of a kitchen, they’ll sell traditional pies from a wood-fired pizza oven attached to a vintage Dodge pickup truck. (The truck is on loan from Well Crafted Kitchen, which shut down last year.)
“We’re trying to spread our wings a little bit,” Bosco said. “We do have ambitions to open one more restaurant in the city of Baltimore.”
As for the signature dish, if Bosco has learned anything in the past few years, it’s that “pizza has proven to us that it’s pandemic-proof.”
Bosco also sees the pop-up as a way to support the careers of some of Verde’s younger staff members like Fowler: “Everybody wants to have their own gig and we get that. We’re trying to help with guidance.” He’s offered input on financing and permitting — aspects of running a business that can be hard to navigate for first-timers.
Since taking over the Key Highway location, which most recently hosted a Brazilian food truck, it’s been “lots and lots of demolition and work and clearing things out,” said Kate Shotwell, Fowler’s girlfriend and business partner, who will sell shaved ice on-site through a sister concept called Crushed Velvet. She painted the bathroom hot pink over the weekend.
The Northern Virginia native, who also works as a dental hygienist close by, corrected me when I asked if she was selling snowballs. Shotwell’s offerings will be more akin to a Hawaiian shaved ice than the Baltimore classic often soaked in egg custard flavoring and dripping in marshmallow cream. She is cooking up some creative ideas for flavors, including a pavlova-inspired concoction topped with meringue crumbles.
In addition to pizza and shaved ice, the area will feature outdoor seating with primo views of the Domino Sugars sign. “It’s a great spot,” Shotwell said.
Operations will begin mid-May and wrap up around mid-October, depending on weather. Hours to start will likely be Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with extended hours on Saturday and Sundays.
Warehouse Cinemas opens next week
The wait for the new Warehouse Cinemas inside the former CineBistro and Growler USA spaces at The Rotunda in Hampden has felt endless. But there’s good news: The upscale movie theater will have a soft opening next week “after a slew of construction and permit inspection delays,” according to a release.
In addition to luxury recliners, look for a self-serve tap wall and a menu that includes gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and specialty corn dogs inspired by Frito-Lay brands, the result of an exclusive collaboration with the snack company, according to a statement from Rich Daughtridge, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-headquartered theater chain. Check out options such as the Fury Road, a “Mad Max” homage that’s double-dipped in “Flamin’ Hot” Cheetos and sprinkled with jalapeños.
Another draw: $7 movies on Tuesdays. But note, patrons under 16 must have a parent or guardian after 6 p.m.
Atlas announces The Ruxton
The Atlas Restaurant Group is expanding its kingdom in Harbor East with The Ruxton, a new steakhouse that opens this fall.
The restaurant and an adjoining cocktail bar will take the place of the former Fleming’s Steakhouse, next to the lobby of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. That hotel, incidentally, was built by the late John Paterakis, grandfather of Atlas CEO Atlas Smith.
Fleming’s closed during the pandemic, part of a wave of departures from the neighborhood that included Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, Cava Mezze and the James Joyce. Atlas, which operates a dozen restaurants in the neighborhood, also took over the James Joyce, but kept the name of the literary giant.
Named for the Baltimore neighborhood near Towson, the 200-seat Ruxton is built for “local Baltimoreans first and foremost,” Smith said in a statement. In addition to a sumptuous renovation and new decor courtesy of designer Patrick Sutton, look for a steak-forward menu from Atlas’ Aaron Taylor with beef sourced from Chicago’s Meats by Linz.
JBGB’s butchery rebrands
Speaking of meat, the butcher shop at JBGB’s in Remington is shutting down for two weeks while it gets a rebrand, but the restaurant attached to the shop will stay open, according to owner Robert Voss. “The restaurant’s not changing,” he said, calling the switch “not a huge deal.”
Voss said the changes will scale back some of the grocery operations at the shop while adding to the ready-made offerings. “We’re going to focus on development of the lunch program, prepared foods and to-go foods,” he said.
In contrast to his John Brown General & Butchery on Falls Road, which “is a butcher shop that happens to have a lunch program,” the Remington shop will be a lunch shop that happens to have a butchery on-site. Voss declined to give the new name for the business, but look for an announcement in coming weeks.