You have to turn off “Old Falls” to get to Clipper Road in the Hampden/Woodberry section of Baltimore, site of Birroteca. This part of the city used to be rather abandoned and deserted, a place where my driver’s ed guy used to take me. That’s rapidly changing and I daresay that Birroteca will be part of it.
Birroteca has been written about in many publications lately. The restaurant, though new on the Baltimore scene, has quickly become a place where the chic of the city go to see and be seen at night. If you’re more like Yogi Berra — “Nobody goes there because it’s too crowded” — and prefer to go somewhere because it’s actually good and not because people say so, try it for lunch! Lots of places in Baltimore aren’t open for lunch, so it’s perfect timing.
The restaurant’s interior is much more polished than outside. There’s exposed brick and shiny wood tables. During lunchtime at least, the tables are spread with white butcher paper that you can draw on. Classic rock plays in the background.
Birroteca serves craft beer, artisan small plates and special pizzas. The restaurant encourages sharing.
I started with arancini, which are fried risotto ball, mushrooms, and Tallegio cheese. I almost passed on this dish, as I’m not fond of the “stinky cheeses” like Tallegio or Epoisses. I love cheese, to be sure . . . even exotic and stronger cheeses. But to me, “the cheese lovers’ cheeses” are a bit much. However, something told me that perhaps Tallegio is different when cooked (it is!) and that all the most famous food writers couldn’t all be wrong. These tasty, crunchy snacks are quite accessible, with lots of good savory/umami flavor.
Then, I progressed to a bruschetta with warm Burrata, melted cherry tomatoes and spinach. Burrata is a rich, creamy by-product of the mozzarella making process. This bruschetta was awesome! The rich cheese and sweet tomatoes were a perfect match to each other.
One of their most famous pizzas is the “Duck, Duck Goose”: duck confit, fig-onion jam, balsamic vinegar, Fontina and Asiago cheese, duck egg. The pizza crust was crunchy and light, like a puff pastry. It was crispy and golden brown, clearly coming out of an extra hot pizza oven. There’s lots of duck meat on it, more than cheese. The fig-onion jam’s sweetness complemented the sweeter duck meat. I learned this summer in Taiwan — after a previous bad experience with duck eggs — that they’re tasty! Properly prepared, like at Birroteca, they’re not gamy at all.