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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Grab your seat at Wit and Wisdom Tavern's Kitchen Table Series

There is so much to say about this series of up-close-and-personal dining and beverage series at s Wit and Wisdom Tavern by Chef Michael Mina in the Four Seasons Hotel, waterfront at Baltimore’s Harbor East! This is not the first of the rotating Kitchen Dinner Series that is kicking off February 1st, in the fall of 2016; with the new open kitchen renovation came Wit and Wisdom’s initial series, the Curated Dinner Series, every Wednesday Night. Twelve lucky patrons were seated front line to the preparation of an exquisite meal created and assembled by Executive Chef Zach Mills, Pastry Chef Dyan Ng and optional beverage selections by Advanced Sommelier Julie Dalton.

It was just before the 2016 December holidays that I was invited to meet Celebrity Chef and founder of the Mina Group, Michael Mina, whose restaurant empire will hit at total of 30 restaurants in 2017 with his latest concept THE STREET in Hawaii. Mina is not a celebrity chef who spends time on television; he is a 3-time James Beard Award Winner who spends almost every day/night in one of his restaurants working with his chefs. It is his passion that the food, hospitality and surroundings fabricate a memorable experience. Chef Mina, “In this job and in this field, you have to love people. Not only do you need to love food, you have to love people,” and it shows in every nook and cranny at Wit and Wisdom.  Watch the video, slideshow and read the full story at my Dara Cooks Blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Monday, January 30, 2017

CaliBurger moves east to Maryland

The California franchise burger restaurant, CaliBurger has found a new home on the east coast, in Columbia, Maryland. All CaliBurger restaurants are franchised-owned and the franchise currently operating the restaurant in Columbia, MD, plans to add two more locations in the state next year. One will open in Annapolis at the Harbour Center, and a second in the northern Baltimore region where the company is actively looking for a location. Another 10 restaurants will open in the Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia areas.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sotto Sopra Restaurant's Friendship Covered Dish Party

Sotto Sopra Restaurant’s owner Riccardo Bosio is a true believer that breaking bread with others, sharing food, talking and listening to others is core to understanding and friendship no matter your cultural or religious background.  It is in that spirit of hospitality that he is inviting anyone who brings homemade food for 12 to 15 people to his Friendship Covered Dish Party Monday, January 30th at 7 pm at Sotto Sopra Restaurant at 405 N. Charles Street in Baltimore.  His staff is receiving a paid day off and the restaurant will close for the Friendship Covered Dish Party, an opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life; engage, share and smile.

Read the full story and get all the details on how you can join the party at the Dara Cooks blog at the 

Local Sagamore Spirit Whiskey stirring things up

The new Baltimore-based whiskey company Sagamore Spirit announced that will be the official spirit sponsor of Light City Baltimore which runs March 31 through April 8, 2017.  The events signature cocktail will be determined by a cocktail competition held by the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild.

Last year, the official Light City cocktail was the Blue Hour, created with Van Gogh gin, grapefruit liqueur, lime juice, cardamom bitters and tonic by B&O American Brasserie’s Eric Fooy. Sagamore Spirit will provide a local spin on the event’s signature drink this year, being a local whiskey brand with a growing footprint in the regional and national market.

You don’t have to wait until Light City Baltimore for a signature cocktail from Sagamore Spirit, they have created the Passing Game Punch just in time for your Super Bowl Party. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Snap out of the lunchtime blues: Brusco Luncheonette

Cava Mezze, my favorite “new Greek” restaurant, has a not-so-hidden secret luncheonette called Brusco inside that features sandwiches and salads, Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 3 pm. Brusco luncheonette is not quite Harbor East, located on Fleet Street in the Hyatt Place Baltimore – just follow the signs to Cava Mezze. If you haven’t found Cava Mezze or Brusco, it is time to search both out.

If you are anything like me, when I was an office worker, lunch offerings became quite boring and redundant.  Not so with Brusco luncheonette who is changing up their menu with new offerings on a regular basis, almost monthly.  Brusco’s blackboard tells all their luncheon choices with flavors from  Greece, Vietnam and regional American favorites.  Read the full story and watch the slideshow at my Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

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 m├ęthode 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.


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