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;Since its 2004 opening, Pazo has become Baltimore’s most stylish spot to see and be seen. Small wonder, given this Harbor East standout’s dramatic, high-ceilinged space and its exciting mix of fine wines, dining and music.
Ask proprietor and wine director Tony Foreman about
Pazo, however, and the first thing you’ll hear is praise for
the “life and soul” of the place, executive chef Mario Cano-Catalan. These are apt words to describe this chef’s singular
take on Mediterranean cuisine, and a fitting emphasis on
what makes Pazo truly special—it all starts with the food.
Pazo’s varied o;erings draw on the “hedonistic” cuisine
of the rustic Spanish coast and Italian isles. Seasonal
ingredients, sourced from about two-dozen farms in the
region, are central to the ever-changing menu, as are cooking
methods designed to impart unique flavors and textures.
Chef Cano-Catalan puts the kitchen’s wood-burning grill to
use with great precision and skill in the preparation of meat
dishes such as the New York strip steak with olive oil crushed
potatoes and mojo picón sauce, imbued with remarkable
flavor from the local hardwood. Pazo’s take on seafood paella
with la bomba rice, meanwhile, benefits from
shrimp cooked on a traditional planxa, an olive
oil- and sea salt-rubbed piece of steel heated
to 600 degrees that sears seafood in its own
juices—with the whole dish then baked in a
wood-burning oven that crisps the rice on the
top and bottom.
Spring at Pazo brings a bounty of
preparations making use of local produce
such as heirloom tomatoes and asparagus.
Plump and colorful tomatoes are simple yet sublime with
sea salt, olive oil and bu;alo mozzarella. The sandy soil of
Maryland’s eastern shore providing what may be the best
asparagus in the country, the vegetable finds its way into a
number of dishes between late April and mid-June—from
tapas pairings with serrano and iberico ham to succulent,
planxa-seared merluza with asparagus and hollandaise
sauce, a Spanish classic.
Pazo’s extensive and well-considered wine list—with an
emphasis, of course, on Spanish varietals and blends—covers
a wide range of price points, with suggested pairings on the
menu. There’s even a house-label red and white, now in its
eighth vintage. Complementing the wines are more than
30 craft cocktails, updated seasonally.
Of course, Pazo is more than outstanding food and drink.
From the e;ortlessly chic vibe of the ground floor bar and
lounge to the more formal dining space upstairs, part of this
restaurant’s appeal lies in its ability to accommodate a variety
of occasions and moods. On Friday and Saturday nights, the
mood turns decidedly festive. The second floor’s mezzanine
seating gives diners a front-row seat to Baltimore’s best
people-watching. Sunday nights o;er a change
of pace, with live classical Spanish guitar during
dinner, providing a touch of serenity at the end of
the weekend frenzy.
If you’re from Baltimore, you know Pazo. But
if you’re not, you’ve just discovered what Zagat
calls a “knockout,” from table to bar to kitchen
to Spanish guitar.
Top: Delicious breads from the wood-burning
oven. Left: An aerial shot of the dining room.
Pazo • 1425 Aliceanna St. • Baltimore • 410-534-7296 • pazorestaurant.com