May 11, 2004

Savory Dishes at Maria's Sicilian Ristorante

Located a short block from Annapolis City Dock, Maria's Sicilian Ristorante serves up amazing Sicilian dishes. A rich menu, impressive service, and elegant surroundings make Maria's perfect for evening out on the town.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no gourmet. Just as the United States is advertised as the "melting pot," Italian dining in this country is the melted down version of a variety of true Italian cultures. As such, the bulk of my Italian dining experiences have been greasy spoon pizza joints that just happen to serve spaghetti, lasagna, and other Americanized meals. Chains such as Olive Garden and Romano's Macaroni Grill do a little bit better, but still tend to specialized in "melted down" Italian foods. I do wonder what percentage of these chains utilize Sysco products, despite advertising the freshness of their ingredients.

Maria's is located a block north of Annapolis City dock, in the corner behind the seafood market. The brick-clad building represents subtle class, and appears in line with the rest of downtown Annapolis. The front door opens to small bar area with a handful of tables. Halfway back and to the left the bar opens into the lower dining room, with ample seating for a dozen or so various-sized groups. Around the corner and up the stairs are the upper dining rooms, seperated into several private areas that can be rented out for private parties. We were seated in one of these areas, facing the docks.

Maria's advertises casual Sicilian dining, although I'd definitely feel out of place if I were to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I was comfortably dressed in a pair of khaki pants and a polo shirt. The wait staff is dressed impeccably, and are quite knowledgeable in the menus they present. We opted to ignore the large wine list early in the evening, though it appeared ample enough to please the pickiest wine connoisseur. Instead, we dipped our fresh bread in the seasoned oil, conversed, and enjoyed the subtle tunes of Frank Sinatra drifting through the dining room. As I stray from seafood, I opted for the manicotti. Early in the evening -- between 5:00PM and 5:30PM -- our meal arrived in less than twenty minutes. Covered in a sweet tomato sauce and garnished with parsley, the rich ricotta filling melted away in my mouth after being sprinkled with freshly grated Romano cheese. The taste and quality of a simple meal -- that is, one with a minimum of ingredients -- is difficult to describe, at least it is for me. Other than my meal, a piece of sausage sampled from the Chicken Scarparella was cooked perfectly and seasoned with a lightly spiced sauce. Other that that I didn't wander too far from my own plate, as I was too busy enjoying it. Suffice to say that it was one of the better meals I've had in a while. We went throughout the evening raving about the fresh taste.

Once you're done with your meal, your waiter will return and scrape away all the crumbs into his palm with a small metal tool, all before taking your desert order. Perhaps I don't dine out often enough, because it was the first time I'd ever seen that happen.

Reservations are accepted, and are certainly recommended if you have a set dinner time in mind. More importantly reservations are honored, unlike many $10/plate national chains that will take a reservation but refuse to hold tables open. You get what you pay for at Maria's. The prices reflect the ambience, quality of food and service, as well as the surrounding decor of Annapolis. As an example one shared appetizer, four entrees, and three deserts ran about $115. Figure $30 per head if you're just eating or as much as $50 per head if you prefer multiple courses. With fine cognac and port on the desert menu, the sky is the limit if you want to include a few rounds of drinks.

Though I'm not wealthy enough to make Maria's one of my regular fixtures, I think it's a wonderful location for small and intimate birthday dinners, family holidays, or perhaps even the occasional night out with close friends. I look forward to my next evening spent dining there.

Maria's Sicilian Ristorante
12 Market Space
Annapolis, MD
Phone: 410-268-2112
Fax: 410-280-1355
Open 11:00AM TO 12:OOAM.

Maria's Sicilian Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Posted by alexm at May 11, 2004 05:27 PM.
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