Limoncello Restaurant & Wine Bar
900 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore
Only in hell are fried shrimp served with the shell still on.
Locust Point’s Anthem House has completed their final puzzle piece of restaurants, adding an assortment of Italian flavors to the variety of global options on its first floor. Welcome, Limoncello Restaurant and Wine Bar. I had high expectations of this purely Italian-owned restaurant. Many of these expectations were met. Great service; Beautiful setting; A diverse menu with many healthier options; Robust Barolo wine by the glass instead of the usual $100-plus per bottle. The happy hour prices for menu items were a good attraction also. Unfortunately, there were a few things that were less than stellar. Spoiler: They leave the shell on the fried shrimp. Madness!
A number of menu options get an A-plus for flavor and presentation. The Polpette al Tegamino was a tasty, high-society meatball with mortadella ground into Kobe beef. The Carpaccio di Tonno (raw Ahi tuna) truly popped in your mouth with its unique spicy lemon aioli. The citrus and heat pleasantly lingers in your mouth. The Gamberoni alla Griglia (grilled shrimp) could not have been more perfect. The shrimp in this dish were large and tender, served with tangy Caponata (an Italian sweet & sour mix of veggies, garlic, and olives). The Panzanella, a salad of heirloom tomatoes, olives, and house made croutons, had an amazing balance of flavors that captured tang, sweetness, and acid in every bite. The wine selection was vast, with many options reasonably priced.
With so many flavors dancing under our noses and in our mouths, not everything left a good impression. The Polipo (grilled octopus) was on the tough side. It could have been marinated longer. Some bites were mildly chewy but still palatable. About half required gold teeth to chew through. The most disappointing surprise was the Frito Misto. This dish of fried calamari, shrimp and cod was prepared with a very mild flavor that was overshadowed by the basic breadcrumb coating and oil from the deep fryer. The shrimp were odd to chew and swallow. Not until the last one did I realize that the breaded coating hid the shrimp shells. I asked our server if this was the norm or if this was just someone in the kitchen fucking up in the kitchen. “This is how it is served.” I had all sorts of mixed emotions over that reply. The shells getting stuck in the back of your throat and in your teeth made the other dishes harder to enjoy. PSA: Don’t serve fried shrimp with the shell on.
- Michael Ritmiller is a Baltimore native and foodie whose professional career spans across a variety of research & development initiatives in addition to serving local non-profits that benefit the community. An avid believer in supporting small restauranteurs, Michael began writing for Baltimore OUTloud in 2018 with the intent of identifying who offers the “best of” dishes around town.