When one thinks of the culinary aspects of Hampden, a wide array of things come to mind: cheap burritos, vegan food, or maybe an unlikeable restaurateur who makes an fool out of herself on national television. But historically, nobody really thought about authentic Italian food. That started to change a few years ago when Grano opened its two locations in the heart of the neighborhood, but one of the locations stuck to pasta while the other kept it pretty high-end.
But now, Hampdenites have a wider variety of authentic Italian food available to them, and best of all, it’s pretty cheap! This is thanks to the 2011 opening of Daniela’s Pasta & Pastries, located on The Avenue.
In case you don’t know, Daniela herself had already built up a reputation in town for being a great pasta maker. She has made pasta for Grano and has acted as a guest chef at Sotto Sopra.
We made our first visit last week, looking for a quick carry-out dinner after an exhausting day.
The restaurant is very small, located in a former eyeglass shop, and is based mainly on a carry-out format. However there are a few small tables inside, and the gentleman working the counter informed us that when the weather warms up they are hoping to add some outdoor seating.
Everything is made fresh daily, and is presented in a small display counter. And everything looks delicious. We grabbed an order of Lasagna Bolognaise and an order of the culingionis. And for just $3 more they threw in a house salad and homemade garlic bruchetta. The lasagna we chose was conceptually similar to the lasagna we Americans are used to, with cheese, meat and a red sauce. However there were 5 or 6 different types of lasagna available that particular night. It was apparent that the noodles were homemade, as they were tender and thick. The meat, sauce, and cheese were all delicious, complementing each other well but none individually stealing the show. Undeniably the best lasagna I’ve experienced. The culingionis, which were essentially potato ravioli (or for my Polish readers, like Italian pierogi), were exceptional. Again, it was apparent that the pasta was hand made that day. The pastas are served in a light sauce seasoned with mint, saffron, and basil.
The portions were not overwhelming, but were generous.
Most importantly, we took home two banana chocolate turnovers for dessert, which were perhaps the highlight of the meal! The flakey pastry was mild but tasty, very fresh, and the rich chocolate and fresh bananas were a perfect match for one another. I would frown upon anyone leaving Daniela’s without one of these in hand.
All in all, an excellent addition to the Hampden dining scene. We’re sorry we didn’t try it out sooner!
Note: they are also BYOB
Daniela’s Pasta and Pastries
900 W 36th St Ave
Baltimore, MD 21211
Price: $$ ($10-20)