This tiny, intimate Italian bistro had the feeling of being in a cramped quarter of Paris or Rome, with wonderful ambiance, petite tables and a marvelous menu. It was hard not to be knocked out by the Sicilian green olives or the absolutely amazing spicy meatballs in a smoked mozzarella and tomato sauce. We had one of their pizzas, the so-called Pizza Salsiccia, which features smoked mozzarella and homemade Calabrese sausage, and then we moved on to their famous Nonna's tomato-braised chicken. We also split a few other dishes, like the grilled calamari and the burrata cheese. Everything was top-notch. We took our own wine, although the night we were there the restaurant was featuring the winemaker and wines of the Scholium Project. We were amused at how many people got a free glass and ended up not drinking the wine, which was orange (at least the ones closest to us), and many ordered something off their wine list.
We stepped up to something much more gorgeous, a magnum of 2008 Aubert Lauren Chardonnay. We also took some lower echelon Turley Zinfandels from 2012 - the juvenile and generic bottlings - and were just thrilled with those. I must say the wine list at Scopa leans toward the weird and unusual, a sort of slick hipster sommelier list of wines that are unusual, but not nearly as flavorful and interesting as purists and traditionalists would like. Nevertheless, it's a nicely put-together list that I definitely enjoyed talking to our waiter about. We also enjoyed the enthusiasm that was exhibited throughout the meal.
Corkage fees are $20 a bottle for those taking their own, which, if you're not into some of the weirdo lean, green, under-ripe styles of wine, you might be advised to do. The food certainly merits a super-high recommendation, the wine list less so.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...