The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Baltimore Chef Doug Wetzel competes on Chopped

This is a ride by post. When I say that, I'm just cutting and pasting the information.  Time is limited today but so happy to see Chef Doug Wetzel from Gertrude's back in action.  Here's the skinny from Gertrudes:

We are so excited that our own Executive Chef Doug Wetzel will be starring on The Food Network's CHOPPED on Tuesday, February 7 at 10pm in


Four Chefs start the competition but only 1 remains standing at the end.  Where will Doug be at the end of the show?  We'll all find out together.


Join Doug and the rest of the Gertrude's team 
300 W. 30th Street on the corner of 30th & Remington

Our friends at The Dizz, a favorite neighborhood bar and cafe have graciously offered to host our viewing party since they have big screen tvs on both levels.  There's no admission charge however food and beverages (adult and otherwise) will be available for purchase.  Come help us cheer Doug on.


A CHOCOLATE OBSESSION is the perfect competition for Doug.  He started at Gertrude's 7 years ago as a Pastry Chef and his love of all things chocolate has done us proud!  We can't wait to see this competition and we hope you'll come join us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Something to wine about: Linganore Winecellars

Linganore Winecellars welcomes home 3rd generation winemaker The Mount Airy, Maryland Linganore Winecellars announces the addition of its third-generation winemaker, Melissa Aellen, to its wine making team.  Following in the footsteps of her father, Anthony Aellen, and grandfather, Jack Aellen, Melissa is excited to work side by side with her family in carrying on the legacy that began in the early 1970’s.  Melissa graduated from Cornell University in 2013 with a degree in Viticulture and Enology.  During her time at Cornell and after graduation, Melissa gained experience at several different wineries, including those in Indiana, Illinois, New York, Oregon, California, and New Zealand. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of wine making, from growing and harvesting grapes to the production and marketing of wine. For more information about Linganore Winecellars, go to

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ellicott City's RegionAle focuses on iconic American sandwiches and craft beers

The opening of RegionAle in Ellicott City, Maryland got a little lost in December’s holiday fervor. RegionAle is a unique concept focusing in on iconic sandwiches from around the country along with having craft beers by the bottle and on tap (beers available starting January 17). If all goes as planned, Chef/owner Kevin Curley is looking at his fast casual concept to grow. Curley, attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and also trained under Baltimore’s Award-Winning Restaurateur and Executive Chef Cindy Wolf. 

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at my Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Taste wine like a pro: Cellar Sessions at Wit & Wisdom

Advanced-Level Sommelier Julie Dalton of Wit & Wisdom Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel  is offering  three classes on tasting wines like a professional. The classes are once a month. Participants will enjoy an interactive, fun, educational and approachable way to taste, sip, swirl and learn about the world of wine.  Along with the wines, attendees will indulge in snacks prepared by Wit & Wisdom’s executive chef Zack Mills. 

Children's free cooking demo at Ejji Ramen

Ejji Ramen, an award-winning Baltimore restaurant, and TasteWise Kids, a non-profit, have partnered with the fundraising technology company,, to facilitate a campaign to raise money for TasteWise’s children’s food education programming. The campaign will run from January 15 through February 15, 2017 and include a kids’ cooking demo on January 27, 2017 at Belvedere Square in Baltimore.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Job fair scheduled for Fell's Point Sagamore Pendry Hotel

Sagamore Pendry Hotel that is slated to open in Fell's Point later next month is holding a job fair this Saturday, January 14, to fill positions in Culinary, Engineering, Food & Beverage, Guest Services, Housekeeping and more.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Bertucci's celebrates 35 years of brick oven pizzas and pastas

A recent opportunity allowed me to celebrate Bertucci's 35th birthday with their CEO Brian K Wright and returning corporate chef, Rosario Del Nero at their Columbia, Maryland location – one of 85 locations. Did you know that their pizza dough is fermented and rests for two days, that all their vegetables are brick oven roasted daily in small batches, that the tomatoes they use in their sauces are grown exclusively for them in California and blended to their specifications.  CEO Wright showed me his video of the California tomato farm and the tomato production. He said, “I couldn’t believe how delicious and sweet the tomatoes were, I couldn’t stop eating them.”

What was very apparent upon my visit was their ability to work with small and large groups, working with menu items as well as build your own pizza capabilities.  The restaurant was packed for holiday celebrations and family dining.  Bertucci’s has combined full service dining with fast casual options staying abreast of current trends. 

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at my Baltimore Post Examiner Dara Cooks Blog 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Get your Maryland Wine ON! 5th Annual Winter Wine Showcase

Squeezed inbetween restaurant weeks and Valentine’s Day is the 5th Annual Winter Wine Showcase, sponsored by the Maryland Wineries Association on Thursday, January 26th 2017 from 6 – 9:30 pm at the B & O Railroad Museum. Over forty award-winning selections from top Maryland wineries, poured by the winemakers and proprietors themselves; highlighting a vast array of sparkling, red, whit ean dessert wines.  Tickets are $55.00 for the “Roundhouse Tasting” (7-9:30 pm) and $70.00 for the “Sparkling Wine Pre-Reception + Roundhouse Tasting” (6-9:30 pm) and are available by logging onto or by calling 410-252-WINE.

Winter Wine Showcase at the B&O Railroad Museum will feature stationary hors d’oeuvres, live jazz music provided by David Bach, and an opportunity to mingle with the leading folks in the Maryland wine industry, all the while amidst the largest antique train collection in the country. Al Spoler, Host of WYPR’s “Cellar Notes”, will be on hand serving as Guest Curator, to ensure that the most notable wines from across the state are showcased.  The VIP Sparkling Wine Pre-Reception, from 6-7pm, will give guests the opportunity to get to know Maryland’s best traditional and non-traditional sparkling varietals and learn about méthode champenoise from the producers themselves.  (Tickets for this VIP Reception are limited.)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Winter Restaurant Weeks are kicking off - Baltimore, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia

Just as you have made your New Year’s resolution to take off, work off the holiday indulgences here I am pushing food with the upcoming  regional winter restaurant weeks. Winter Restaurant Week kicks off with Baltimore City’s January 13th.  The restaurants are just starting to pop up their menus.  Baltimore City’s Restaurant Week  has Sotto Sopra Restaurant proffering their large and diverse Italian menu. Check out their cioppino, just recognized by the Food Network as one of the top cioppino outside of San Francisco. 

Here is my bi-annual listing of regional restaurant weeks being held in Northern Virginia, Center City Philadelphia, Washington DC, Maryland(Baltimore and surrounding counties)  and the Big Apple, New York City.  The list below is set up chronologically with links to their 2017 Winter Restaurant Week websites.  Prices and deals vary at each location.  

Read the FULL STORY and watch the slideshow at my Dara Cooks Blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Citron Restaurant and Bar: A legacy from the past and a fork to the future

Baltimore County, Quarry Lake off Greenspring Avenue is home to caterer Charles Levine’s dream come true restaurant, Citron.  Levine’s culinary career started at the iconic Pimlico Hotel Restaurant, working for his uncle, one of the partners and there was no looking back.

A number of you probably never heard of the Pimlico Hotel Restaurant although, many have; celebrities, dignitaries, sports figures and Baltimoreans dined there. It was “the place” to be and be seen, and featured a menu thick with culinary options from Chateaubriand to their big egg roll. There wasn’t an occasion that wasn’t celebrated at the Pimlico Hotel, in fact, that is where I had my wedding dinner. Always top-notch food and service, it was Baltimore’s premier restaurant.  My sensibilities feel Levine’s Citron yearns to pick up where Pimlico left off. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays

Thank you for your continuing support of Dining Dish over the past 11 years. We wish everyone the brightest of Christmas and Hanukkah holidays.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sneak peek at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pikesville redux

Happenstance and with my phone handy General Manger of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Tom Isabella, offered an impromptu Facebook Live Tour showing off the recent updates in furnishing, lighting and carpet redux at their Pikesville location. Initially the video had some WiFi connection issues, but it clears up so do enjoy the tour along with the short slideshow.

Normally open for dinner only, they have been open for lunch during the holidays which ends this Friday. They are offering a prix-fixe menufor New Year’s Eve. They are still accepting reservations for New Year’s Eve. 

Since I was at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at lunchtime, I dove into their crab stack appetizer for a light lunch; colossal blue crab peaks perched above a fresh medley of avocado, mango with a spicy rémoulade sauce.  Luckily, my friends like to share so I savored a bite or two from her  ahi tuna appetizer with an Asian sweet, sour dressing. 

There are restaurants that are meant for you to eat and run, that is not Ruth’s Chris Steak House – they want you to sink into the cushioned chairs and richly appointed banquettes and dine. 

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
1777 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, MD  21208
410 837-0033
Instagram: @ruthschris_pikesville Twitter: @RuthsChris_PIK

Monday, December 19, 2016

Food and Wine's Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Every State

Hot of the web, Food and Wine's list of their top picks for the  "Best farm-to-table restaurants" in every state. If you are anything like me, I immediately went to see who they picked for my home state of Maryland. For Maryland, it is a Baltimore local, Maggie's Farm in the Hamilton ---kudos and well deserved..

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dylan's Oyster Cellar officially opened in Hampden

The long awaited Dylan's Oyster Cellar is open at 3601 Chestnut Avenue. Finally in their permanent home, the soft opening was a success, so much so they needed to take a day to re-stock and prepare.  Located in the old florist shop at the corner of Chestnut and 36th Street, Dylan's offers up a diverse menu. Keep in touch via social media.

Facebook and Instagram: @dylansoystercellar
Twitter: @dylansoyster

Waldo is still missing but we found Harvey Shugarman in a little chocolate shop in New Mexico

Baltimorean Harvey Shugarman first came on the scene back in the 80’s when he was the chef at Girard’s Disco and then started rocking it out in the newly opened Greenspring Station with his Harvey’s Restaurant. 

A trend setter, feeding the crème de la crème in Baltimore, the “place to go and be seen” he instituted a lavish brunch buffet back in the day before “brunch” was the hot trend.  Eventually, Shugarman left the day-to-day operation of his own restaurant to go into restaurant consulting, but by 2008 it was hard.  The Shugarman’s Little Chocolate Shop is thriving in New Mexico and has been since he opened it 4 ½ years ago. Read the full story, watch the slideshow and give Harvey a call, he is accepting chocolate orders up through to Monday December 19th no later than 3 pm. The story is at Baltimore Post Examiners Dara Cooks Blog 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Amazing beer and food pairing at Fleet Street Kitchen

Honestly, I thought I hated beer but a recent food and beer pairing from MillerCoors turned me around. 

The only beer I remember having that tasted any good was at the Bluebird Bar on South Carolina Avenue in Atlantic City circa 1968. Not a far walk off the beach to the bar with a friend who treated me to a beer, it was cold, it was wet and it had been a sizzling 100 degrees out in the sun.    

Circa 2016 and an invite by MillerCoors to their Tasting Room,  a multi course beer and food pairing  at the highly touted Fleet Street Kitchen arrived.  Normally I don’t do beer or coffee – I have too many bitter receptors.  A friend and mentor, Antoinette Bruno of had recently encouraged me to taste EVERYTHING when we were at a local coffee shop, even if it isn’t in my culinary roundhouse 

Check out the slideshow and menu at my Dara Cooks blog post at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mama’s on the Half Shell will be open Christmas Day

Mea culpa in my list of restaurants open Christmas Day I forgot put down that Mama’s on the Half Shell in Canton which will be open from 11 am and operating regular hours.  The kitchen will be open from Noon-8pm and offering out their regular menu.

Perfect if you want to carry over the Italian tradition of 7 fishes on Christmas eve through to Christmas day.  It is a great way to get your seafood on for the holidays; a nice bouillabaisse, crab imperial or a solid crab cake platter.    

Mama’s on the Half Shell – 2901 O’Donnell Street- Baltimore, MD 21224 Reservations (410) 276-3160 Facebook and Instagram: @mamasonthehalfshell Twitter: @mamashalfshell

Check out the other restaurants that are open on Christmas Day at my column at Baltimore Post Examiner 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Baltimore area restaurants that are open Christmas Day

When you just want something different for Christmas brunch or dinner. As in years before, I have put together a list of restaurants that are open on Christmas.  I don’t know about you, but all I want for Christmas is Dim Sum from Asian Court in the morning and for the first day of Hanukkah, which falls on Christmas Day, brisket and potato latkes for dinner from Regi’s American Bistro in Federal Hill. Guess what, both are available, as is Italian fare at Sotto Sopra Restaurant in Mt. Vernon or Indian cuisine at Akbar Palace in Randallstown.  Dare to be different and wear your PJ’s and you will get 20% off your tab at Blue Moon and Blue Moon Too in Fell’s Point / Federal Hill.  

Read the full listing and watch the slideshow at my post on Baltimore Post Examiner.


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