Last night, our family of 4 had a great meal at the new Turkish restaurant on York Road. We ordered three appetizers—the falafel, baba ganoush, and Turkish “cigars” filled with cheese. We loved them all as well as the fresh pita that accompanied the baba ganoush (and our one complaint—they didn’t give us nearly enough—but they were quick to bring more when we asked). The texture of the baba ganoush was chunkier than I’ve had before, which I loved, but my oldest son didn’t love it as much as a smoother dip. The falafels were much smaller than I’ve ever seen, but they too were delicious—soft, tender, and perfectly flavored. They were served with hummus that was also thicker than the hummus I usually eat, but good and flavorful. My youngest son thought the “cigars” were especially divine. It’s hard to go wrong with buttery phyllo dough around a creamy cheese filling! For entrees, we had one chicken kabob, two mixed platters (with chicken, beef, lamb, and meatballs), and one adana shish kebab, ground veal and lamb on skewers. The boys (my 2 sons and husband) all agreed the adana shish kebab was the absolute best. They described it as well-spiced, but not too spicy, and tender. I enjoyed the chicken—it was seasoned and cooked perfectly. I just wish that there was more of it (and the pieces themselves were on the small side)! Most of our plates were dominated by rice and vegetables—which were great too. At the end of the meal, the owner came over to introduce himself, ask about our experience, and offer our boys chocolate wafer bars. He seemed genuinely interested in ensuring customers are happy and was passionate about his restaurant. We certainly hope he succeeds. Although the dishes we had were the same in name to those we get at other places, they were distinctly Turkish style (and so delicious!). There is definitely a need in our City’s restaurant scene for a place like this, and hopefully other Baltimoreans will agree!
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Since moving cater-corner to the old location, Miss Shirley's now has over 150 seats (including outdoors during fair weather), but is still difficult to get into on the weekends. I suggest before 10 or after 1:30 to avoid a wait... Foodwise, it's inventive and they seem to use the very best ingredients. The crab dishes are a bit pricey, but they use MASSIVE chunks of crab that must set them back a piece. Not to be missed are the Fired Green Tomatoes (or any dish containing them), Sweet Potato Fries, or the Spicy Shirley Mary. Great female chef, and a good place to people watch. They update their menu every 6 months, so a trip to their website is probably in order. Parking is at a premium, so try behind the place or their sister restaurants Alonzo's/Loco Hombre, or S'ghetti Eddies. No reservations accepted (EVER!), but space is available for large parties during the week.
My husband and I have enjoyed going to Ciao Bella's for several years now. We don't go anywhere else in Little Italy. Usually we go for a special occation like our anniversary or one of our birthdays however we have also taken other people there including my entire family for my parents 50th anniversary and our bass fishing club for the annual banquet. Whether it has been a group of people or just the two of us, we have always had excellent service and fine food and wine. If you get down to Little Italy, say hello to Tony, the owner. He can be found out on the street greeting guests, behind the bar mixing drinks or just wandering around the restaurant making sure his guests are happy. If you try Ciao Bella's, we hope you have as good a time as we do.