Arts and Culture (All)

Dr. Joan Gaither’s quilts document lives and history

      Mention quilts, and people often share memories of grandmothers or great aunts working with needle and thread, joining pieces of fabric with precise stitching.
      Dr. Joan Gaither, who documents history with cloth and thread, describes herself as “a quilter who breaks all the rules.” Her quilts are covered with images, words and objects: buttons, ribbons, pieces of jewelry, shells — anything that can be sewn to fabric and symbolizes an aspect of the story she tells.
       She stitched her first quilt after the death of an aunt whose story and family history she wanted to memorialize. As she added text and photos to represent the lives and careers of seven generations of her family, the quilt grew to an impressive 10-by-12 feet. It includes the colorful and imaginative embellishments that now characterize her work and features brilliant Maryland state flag colors representing her family’s ties to Baltimore.
       That experience 18 years ago launched the Maryland Institute College of Art professor into fiber arts and three-dimensional collage. Gaither has since made over 200 quilts, telling her stories and those of black Americans. Many have themes of identity, racism and social justice. Others honor the lives of individuals who have influenced national politics, education and the arts.
       Through this month, you can see her quilts in Baltimore in the exhibit Freedom: Emancipation Quilted & Stitched at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, which celebrates the contributions and legacies of people of color in Maryland.
       Each image, object, fabric and color, she explains, has symbolism. Most quilts are edged in African mud cloth. A strip of blue stands for the ocean passage. Red, white and blue fabric represents America. Pieces with railroad tracks are the Underground Railway and the flight to freedom. 
      “The strips are often held together by safety pins, some still open,” she explains, “to symbolize the pain of slavery, oppression and injustice.”
       The topics of the quilts on exhibit range from Gaither’s personal history to broad topics of national interest. Laid out in a pattern like the Maryland flag, her Sesquicentennial 1864 Slave Emancipation Quilt has blocks that represent all of the counties in the state, plus Baltimore City. Each block focuses on events and people associated with emancipation. More than 400 people across the state helped in creating this quilt, which will continue its travels throughout Maryland when the exhibit closes at month’s end.
        Collaboration is a hallmark of Gaither’s work. She brings together local communities, school children and church groups to create and construct quilts. One of her largest quilts (10 by 14 feet) depicts the entire Chesapeake Bay and celebrates the lives of its black watermen. That inspiration was, she says, “my discovery that there was very little record of the contributions of African Americans to Bay-oriented industries.” Individuals from towns all around the Bay contributed information, family photographs and objects to make the history come alive.
       No experience required is the message at Gaither’s quilt-making workshops. People come with words, photographs and mementos. She brings ink jet printers, scissors, markers, boxes of embellishments and inspires her quilters to capture memories and stories on fabric. Sewing is done with large needles and simple stitches.
        A group of young children who swarmed into her exhibit the day she and I visited were drawn to details on the quilts, calling out to one another as they noticed yet another fascinating or unusual embellishment: strings of beads, a political button, a plastic crab. She answered some questions, then encouraged the kids to talk with their families and elders: “Ask them questions about their lives,” she said, “about what they remember from when they were young.” 
        “Memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compasses” are our stories, author and journalist Aleks Krotoski says. Gaither’s quilts are just that, capturing history, documenting and honoring lives, describing their lessons about the past and their calls for justice and equality.
       Follow Gaither on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoanMEGaither.
Welcome to Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide, a tour of good eats and good eating.
In this ­special, you’ll visit the many restaurants, delis, groceries and seafood markets whose advertising in our pages brings you Bay Weekly 52 weeks of each year. Most are locally owned, and all are in our neighborhoods.
      Each is unique in its offerings — from fin- and shellfish fresh from the Bay to fine beef to satisfying preparations and presentations whether homestyle or exotics to regionally famous wines and beers to inventive cocktails.
       Read, explore, enjoy — and as you taste your way to new knowledge, please say  I read about you in Bay Weekly.

Angelina’s Italian Kitchen

Angelina’s Italian Kitchen, located on Route 214 in Edgewater, is a small, quaint carryout with four tables should you choose to dine in. Named after the owner’s great-grandmother, Angelina Canestra, who found so much joy in cooking for family and friends, the restaurant prides itself in serving all homemade Italian food daily.   
    Pizza dough, lasagna, meatballs and marinara are all freshly made for you. Delicious desserts, including fresh cannoli, are also homemade.
    Very affordable prices and traditional New York-style pizzas make Angelina’s a great place to order out or the bring the family to eat in.
    This family-owned and -operated small business moved to Edgewater after 15 years in Bowie and was promptly voted Best Pizzeria out of 25 establishments in the Edgewater and Davidsonville area on Patch.com and Yelp.com.
 
Angelina’s Italian Kitchen
827 Central Ave. E., Edgewater; 410-798-0700; 
facebook.com/AngelinasItalianKitchen
Lunch and dinner Wed.-Sun.

Annapolis ­Restaurant Week
Foodies of many different tastes are readying their palates for a week of deals and savory dishes during the last week of February.
    With more than 40 establishments in Annapolis participating in the event each year, it’s the perfect opportunity to try that little-known restaurant you’ve been meaning to sample or indulge in local favorites. Fixed-price menus make for an enjoyable tasting of some of the area’s most popular restaurants, without consuming your wallet in the process.
   This year’s Annapolis Restaurant Week (now in its 10th year) is Sunday through Saturday, February 25 to March 3. Forty restaurants in both downtown Annapolis and the greater Annapolis area will be offering two- and three-course fixed-price meal selections. Annapolis has become a dining destination over the years, and this event highlights some of the area’s most popular destinations. 
    For those looking for new experiences, Annapolis has several new restaurants that have opened over the past year, including Flamant and the Light House Bistro. You can also pick restaurants that offer shows or live music after your meal, vegetarian options, waterfront views or that are located in historic buildings. There is something for everyone to enjoy.
    Two-course lunches are $15.95 and three-course dinners $34.95 at all participating restaurants, with restaurants that regularly serve breakfast offering two-course breakfasts for $12.95.
    Participating restaurants: Annapolis Smokehouse, Buddy’s Crabs, Café Normandie, Chevy’s, Fado Irish Pub, Federal House, Flamant, Galway Bay, Gordon Biersch, The Light House Bistro, Luna Blu, The Melting Pot, Middleton Tavern, Miss Shirley’s Café, O’Briens, O’Learys, Paladar, Paul’s Homewood Café, Preserve, Reynolds Tavern, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Sam’s on the Waterfront, Severn Inn, Yellowfin. Full details and more restaurants online: www.downtownannapolispartnership.org/restaurant-week.
 
Annapolis Restaurant Week
www.downtownannapolispartnership.org/
restaurant-week
Feb. 25-March 3

Anne Arundel ­County Farmers Market

You’ll find top-quality produce and products at Anne Arundel County Farmers Market, all sold by friendly farmers and producers glad to share their knowledge and answer your questions. Today many of the original farm families are among the 100+ vendors selling all year at the market.
    The Farmers Market was first organized in 1981 by the County Office of Planning and Zoning and sponsored by the Anne Arundel County Farm Preservation Board, Farm Bureau, Co-operative Extension Service and the Department of Agriculture.
    Many things have changed in the 30-plus years since the first market season. One thing that has never changed is our desire to bring all customers the freshest and best that Anne Arundel County and Maryland has to offer. We do this with great pride!
 
Anne Arundel County Farmers Market
Riva Rd. at Harry Truman Pkwy., Annapolis; ­www.aacofarmersmarket.com
Sun. 10am-1pm (year-round)
Tues. 7am-noon (May-Sept.)
Sat. 7am-noon (April-Dec.)

Bread and Butter Kitchen

You go to Bread and Butter Kitchen, chef-owner Monica Alvarado’s new breakfast and lunch café overlooking Spa Creek at the end of Second Avenue, for inspired eating with a view and a relaxed, friendly neighborhood atmosphere. 
    You’ll find a welcome relief from the same-old same-old. On the menu are a variety of classic items, as well as creative and unique dishes, from biscuits and gravy to a Vietnamese inspired Banh Mi turkey burger. Homemade soups and specials rotate throughout the week.
    “We feel honored to work with and use locally sourced ingredients from the farmers and vendors at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market,” Alvarado says. “These ingredients are featured throughout the menu, from bread made locally at Great Harvest Bakery to the milk and yogurt from Nice Farms Creamery.”
    Choose from a variety of meals and snacks, including kid-friendly, vegetarian and gluten free.
    For breakfast, it’s hard to resist a fresh scone made from scratch that morning. Our signature breakfast sandwich is the BBK, which features two fried eggs, red onion, avocado, bacon and garlic aioli on toast from Great Harvest Bakery.
    For lunch, try a Banh Mi burger or perhaps chicken on a biscuit, a fried chicken breast drizzled with sriracha honey on our from-scratch biscuits.
    A reformed corporate rock star, Alvarado left her 22-year career in technology in 2016 to start Bread and Butter Kitchen with the vision of sharing my passion for making amazing food that celebrates local ingredients. I began by creating a weekly menu of prepared to-go meals and selling them at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market.
    “In May of 2017, I opened the cafe and have been smiling ever since,” she says. “There is no doubt in my mind that this is what I was meant to do.”
    Bread and Butter Kitchen feels like home, and when you share a meal there, you join the family.
    We have seating for 10 both inside and out, with plenty of parking available. Furry friends are welcome outdoor customers.
 
Bread and Butter Kitchen
303 Second St., Eastport; 410-202-8680; www.breadandbutterkitchen.com
Daily 7:30am-3pm 

Cakes and ­Confections Bakery Café

We are a full-service bakery with a café serving breakfast and lunch.
    On the bakery side, we specialize in fresh-baked pastries, pies and desserts plus custom-designed cakes for all occasions. Our most popular sweets are our chocolate-coconut macaroons, our key lime pie and fruit medley pie (strawberries, rhubarb, apples, raspberries and blackberries) and our wonderful gluten-free Chocolate Decadence Cake. 
    Sit down among those good smells (or carry out) for breakfast, served all day, and lunch. As well as omelets, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and our popular steak, egg and cheese wrap, we serve grilled paninis, delicious soups and homemade quiche in two varieties, bacon cheddar or our loaded vegetable. Take home a whole quiche with any number of savory ingredients with 24 hours notice. Coffee is brewed fresh all day.
    Pastry chef and co-owner Michael Brown found his career while working in a bake shop in Washington, D.C. “I really enjoyed creating all types of pastries and desserts,” he says, so “I decided to go back to school and get my pastry chef degree at L’Academie de Cuisine.” He worked at several caterers and bakeries before Cakes and Confections, which he bought from its previous owner.
    Michael and Julianne Brown have owned Cakes and Confections for over 15 years creating wonderful cakes, pastries and desserts for customers from all over the area. The business moved to Severna Park from Annapolis in 2013 to add breakfast and lunch.
    Our custom-designed cakes and many types of wonderful confections are known far and wide.
    Our cakes have included a wedding cake modeled on the U.S. Capital, many USNA cake “covers” and a platter of sushi cakes. Challenge us to design a specialty cake for your special occasion! 
 
Cakes and Confections Bakery Café
342 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park; 410-757-7100; www.cakesandconfections.com
Mon.-Fri. 7am-6pm, Sat. 8am-4pm

Chesapeake Grille & Deli

In all three of its locations, Chesapeake Grille & Deli is the kind of place you can’t do without. It sustains the modern lifestyle. You can rush in off the road, choose a good meal and carry it out or eat it in. It’s all cooked to order, but service is fast and friendly. So how much time you want to spend is up to you. 
    Food is fast, fresh and satisfying.
    You get what you expect: burgers, barbecue, crab cakes and flatbreads, soups, salads and sandwiches, gyros, reubens and Rachels, melts, wraps and hoagies. 
    You can get what you hope for: meatloaf, chicken potpie (with the addition of a touch of the Bay) and real Smith Island cake for dessert.
    You can get way more than you expect: grilled fresh fish, beer-battered rockfish, seafood skewers with grilled veggies and new potatoes, crabby mac and cheese.
    “Everything we serve has been carefully created, thoughtfully prepared and given the attention and fresh ingredients it deserves,” says manager Chad Wagaman.
    Chesapeake Grille, Deli and Market, across from Herrington Harbour South in Rose Haven, adds the convenience of breakfast and a market where you can pick up quick supplies, including wine, beer and liquor. 
 
• 10092 Southern Maryland Blvd., Dunkirk; 410-286-5939
Lunch and dinner daily
 
• 6786 Race Track Rd., Bowie; 301-262-4441
Lunch and dinner daily
 
• 7150 Lake Shore Dr., North Beach; 410-257-7757
Breakfast, lunch and dinner all day everyday
 
www.eatchesapeake.com

Chesapeake Seafood

Chesapeake Seafood is central Anne Arundel County’s place to go for seafood, though its freshness draws seafood lovers from much farther. 
    Walk in and you’ll see the glass display case filled with seafood, from blue crabs all year long to sushi-grade fish. Some of what you’ll see is so local that Chesapeake Seafood watermen caught it and brought it. Choose your favorite and take it home to cook for dinner.
    You don’t have to wait that long to enjoy Chesapeake Seafood. Much of what’s there can be cooked to order for take-out. Blue crabs are steamed to order whenever you want them. Everything on the extensive carryout menu — including key lime pie — is fresh, homemade and delicious.
 
Chesapeake Seafood
135 Mayo Rd., Edgewater; 410-957-8956; www.chesapeakeseafoodinc.com
Carryout daily 11am-8pm 

Donut Shack

For over 33 years, hand-cut donuts baked on the premises have been our specialty. We are home to the Chopsuey, a mix of apple, cinnamon and coconut with raisins or without, all blended in a yeast-raised dough. We also make other fresh pastries. You’ll find home-made soup, too, along with hot beverages, including fresh coffee, and cold bottled drinks.
    As well as making donuts, we love working with people. “As our customer, you make our business, so we make it our business to take care of you,” says owner Bill Prevezanos.
    We pride ourselves on courtesy, prompt service, cleanliness and fresh products. 
    We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, here for you whenever you want a donut.
    Eat in or carry out by the donut, sack or box.
 
Donut Shack
497 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park; 410-544-0278
Open 24/7

En-Tice-Ment Farm-Raised Meats 

Hearty stews and roasts are especially satisfying in winter, and buying from En-tice-ment Farm means you know the pedigree of the meat you’re eating. En-tice-ment Farm is central Chesapeake Country’s No. 1 source for farm-raised meat. That’s beef, pork and lamb plus chicken and eggs, all raised by the Tice family of fourth- and fifth-generation farmers.
    All animals are well cared for on the Tice’s Harwood farm. For their wellbeing and yours, they are grass-fed in a free-range environment with no hormones or steroids. The meat is butchered into convenient cuts, sealed and immediately frozen at family-run USDA-inspected processing facilities.  
    “Customer demand for naturally raised local products started our business,” says Deana Tice. “Now we’ve added a new farm store, a smaller version of a grocery store selling all locally sourced foods.”
    En-tice-ment offers every cut you could want, plus some you may not have tried, as well as weekly meat packages posted on Facebook for ordering ahead. Shop or pick up at our new farm store with longer hours for your convenience or at Anne Arundel County Farmers Market.
    Unsure how to cook these delicious cuts? Ask the Tice family, who has long experience and recipes to tantalize your taste buds. 
Find all En-tice-ment products online and at Facebook.
 
En-Tice-Ment Farm-Raised Meats
231 Polling House Rd., Harwood; 443-336-8492; 
www.enticementfarmraisedmeats.com
En-Tice-Ment Farm store Tues.-Fri. 3-6pm; Sat. 8am-noon. 
AACo. Farmers Market: Sun. winters 10am-1pm.

Evelyn’s

Evelyn’s, a breakfast, brunch and lunch café focused on local and sustainable ingredients, is rounding out its first year in West Annapolis.
    The welcoming, open-kitchen café is a turn in a new direction for owner Brandon Stalker, who was drawn from commercial real estate by “the joy that a great meal can bring.”
    Localism theme runs through every aspect of the business, from ingredients to location — a livable, walkable neighborhood with a thriving commercial strip that exerts a strong pull on visitors — to naming, after the Stalker’s daughter. 
    All Evelyn’s food is prepared from scratch, in-house, and always in small batches to ensure that every day food is clean, wholesome and fresh.
    “We believe that a plant-to-plate mentality allows us to control our recipes to a greater degree than simply buying a finished product from a vendor,” Stalker says. 
    That’s true of meat as well as plant, he adds. “We make our corned beef ourselves. It is moist and flavorful instead of just being put onto a meat slicer out of a bag; you can taste the difference,” he says.
    Thus, Evelyn’s two most popular dishes are corned beef reubens and corned beef hash.
    As well as a taste of quality, local is a philosophy for Stalker. “Locally sourced not only provides our customers with the freshest ingredients but also keeps the money they spend in the pockets of local Maryland businesses,” he says. 
    Evelyn’s has seasonal outdoor, pet-friendly dining (with bacon available for your pooch).
 
Evelyn’s
26 Annapolis St., Annapolis; 410-263-4794; ­www.evelynsannapolis.com
Open 7 days a week, 7:30am-3:30pm

Happy Harbor

Happy Harbor is a comfort center for locals and sightseers from far and wide.
    Come for comfort food, fresh seafood, a good strong Crush or Bloody Mary or a cold beer and a front-row waterfront view. 
    Come to relax. At Happy Harbor, you don’t have to dress up. Come to hang out with the gang. To eat the best burger around, especially at Monday’s $5 special price. Come to watch sports on 14 TVs. April thru September, come for live music on the dock every Friday Saturday and Sunday and local DJs on the second and last Saturday of each month. 
    Come to Happy Harbor to get happy. And in summer, you can do it all outdoors, with your dogs.
 
Happy Harbor
533 Deale Rd., Deale; 410-867-0949; ­www.happyharbordeale.com
Lunch and dinner daily, breakfast Sat. & Sun. during winter

Hook & Vine Kitchen & Bar

Hook & Vine is a hunger you can’t yet satisfy.
    “We’re half a season from opening,” says co-owner Monica Phillips, who has been in the restaurant industry for decades. 
    “I love creating a memorable experience through food, drink and service. We both enjoy trying different food and talking to people,” says Monica, whose first job was in an ice cream shop. “I then served and bartended through college.”
    “We have a love for food and people,” says husband Kevin, who moved into hospitality after working in technology and sales management. After working for several large casual dining organizations, holding positions from manager to director of operations overseeing multi-state regions, he decided, he says, “to take the leap.”
    The North Beach location was just the place they’d been looking for. 
    “We have always been a supporter of the small and local business and love the area,” Monica says. “The community needed more dining options and we jumped in and went for it.”
    Hook & Vine promises Southern Coastal cuisine relying on locally sourced ingredients. Dishes — classics with a twist — will be infused with the flavors of bacon, bourbon and wine. 
    Planned signature items include deviled eggs, bourbon glazed pork chops, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, plus a variety of bourbons and wine to quench your thirst.
    The significance of the name? Hook is for fresh fish and seafood, with a coastal flair; vine is for wine and seasonal ingredients. 
    Also promised are family friendly service and Bay views from the deck.
    “We want you to come for the food but get hooked on the Southern hospitality, the atmosphere and family environment,” Monica says.
    With its planned spring opening, Hook & Vine is one more reason to look forward to that season.
 
Hook & Vine
4114 7th St., North Beach; 443-964-5488; ­www.HookandVine.com
Opening Spring 2018, 11am-10pm

The Irish Restaurants

The experience at all three of The Irish Restaurants — Galway Bay in Annapolis, Killarney House in Davidsonville and Brian Boru Irish Pub in Severna Park — is flavored with genuine welcome. That natural, comfortable, person-to-person ambi­ance sets us apart. As soon as you enter, you are sure to have a great time.
    Our traditional food and drink menus reflect the hospitality and flavors of Ireland. Bar staff in all three of our Irish pubs are trained to pour a great pint of Guinness. Our traditional Galway Bay eggnog, made in Ireland from our own recipe with fresh Irish Cream and Irish whiskey, is imported each year and available in our restaurants.
    Our food is based on some of Ireland’s best recipes, recreated with local ingredients as we proudly support local farmers and oystermen when possible. These are complimented by imported Irish products like KerryGold Cheese and butter, custards, flour, relishes and sauces to get as close to the true Irish dining experience as possible.
    Killarney House is introducing new menu items to represent Maryland’s seasons, including fresh shucked oysters, which are also available in the pub Wednesday nights (5:30-8:30pm). Try oysters with a Guinness and see why people in Ireland have enjoyed this tradition for centuries. Or our oven-baked Norwegian salmon, finished with an Irish butter mustard sauce. How about a house-seasoned cold corned beef sandwich with Dubliner cheese on a rustic roll with tarragon and black pepper mayo, with tomato-onion chutney? We also feature cold smoked salmon with pickled red onions and Irish bread. To help stave off the cold weather, we offer beef or lamb stew, shepherd’s pies or delicious pot roast, to name but a few. Maybe an Irish coffee to finish off a great evening: made with Demerara augar, Irish whiskey and fresh homemade whipped cream. Who cares about the weather after that!
    To complement its long-established food menu and dining experience, Galway Bay has developed an excellent offering of nearly 50 Irish whiskeys to address the renewed interest in Irish whiskeys in the U.S. and around the world. Under the superb management of Sean Lynch and Gary Brown, the selection of Irish whiskeys and beer is a great representation of what is available in Ireland’s best pubs. 
    With the demand for Irish whiskey on the rise, plans are on the drawing board for a separate whiskey bar in the front dining room, coming this summer. Our patrons will enjoy the authentic environment conducive to sipping what Irish folklore has called “the Water of Life.”
    On offer with the Irish beers, local beer has strong representation. Galway Bay has a special relationship with RAR Brewing in Cambridge, which contract-brews our Naptown Brown Ale. They also use Galway Bay for their first releases, as well as seasonal rotating taps. “We designed Naptown Brown, our core beer, with a light finish and low ABV to pair with everything,” says assistant manager Gary Brown.
    Also on tap now is RAR’s hoppy Nanticoke Nectar that wants a bold-flavored food like corned beef and cabbage … and D.C. Brau, a nitro-Porter with a nice creamy finish, which pairs well with shepherd’s pie. 
    At Brian Boru in Severna Park, we also feature authentic Irish recipes prepared with produce and proteins from local farmers and fish suppliers. Our home-cooked corned beef is always one of our best, slow-cooked for six hours and served with fresh local cabbage and red potatoes. Fresh shucked oysters are also on the menu, and on Thursday nights Irish singers add atmosphere to the Guinness and fresh shucked oyster night. If you like a great reuben sandwich, our home-cooked corned beef and sauerkraut on rye bread is our best seller. Homemade potato cakes or fried oysters are great choices to start off the dining experience. Shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie and fish and chips are customer favorites and our all-day breakfast featuring Irish bacon, sausages, black and white puddings with tomato and eggs is the way to go.
    Always striving to be part of the community, Brian Boru has had a marvelous role in helping raise money for local charities with its fundraising dinners: three-course menu for $25 per person. Of that amount $10 per person is donated back to the evening’s charity. Heather Saffield, Brian Boru’s general manager, has greatly contributed to the growth of this community giveback. Under her stewardship, we have helped lots of wonderful local people.
    With St Patrick’s day fast approaching, please check our websites for history dinners, concerts and entertainment schedules.
 
Galway Bay Irish Restaurant
63 Maryland Ave., Annapolis; 410-263-8333; www.galwaybaymd.com
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. brunch
 
Brian Boru Irish Pub
489 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park; 410-975-2678; www.brianborupub.com
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. brunch
 
Killarney House Irish Restaurant
584 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville; 
410-798-8700; www.killarneyhousepub.com
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. brunch

Jalapeños

Change your state of mind in Jalapeños, where décor and service lead you to believe you’ve just stepped out of the zocalo into a cool, timeless restaurant. You could be in Spain or in Mexico, and Jalapeños’ dishes will satisfy either taste.
    Both styles are authentic to Jalapeños. Owner Gonzalo Fernandez comes from Spain, and owner Alberto Serrano comes from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the source of many of Mexico’s richest moles. Chef Obed Serrano, also from Oaxaca, studied his art in Spain.
    Create your meal to your taste by ordering from the menu of tapas, the original small plates. Four-dozen choices include fish — calamari, mussels, salmon, scallop and shrimp — meat and vegetable.
    Gonzalo’s favorite is Gambas al Ajillo: large shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic, herbs and tomato finished with dry sherry. It is also served as one of two-dozen large plates, many accompanied with beans and rice. 
    Made-to-order guacamole and a margarita or sangria are good starters as you browse the menu that includes, as you’d expect, wide choices of burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and tacos. 
    Bimonthly Flamenco dinners with live dancers, a singer and guitarist are so popular that shows sell out. Watch Jalapeños’ ads for the dates and reserve early.
 
Jalapeños
85 Forest Plaza, Annapolis; 410-266-7580; www.jalapenosonline.com
Lunch Mon.-Sat., nightly dinner and happy hour in the bar starting at 4pm

Jerry’s Place

If you’ve been to Jerry’s, south of Prince Frederick, you know why its shopping strip parking lot is full: fresh and delicious seafood with friendly service. 
    If you haven’t, you’ll want to find out. 
    “We buy only the freshest crabmeat and seafood, says owner Jerry Gainey, a seafood lover with a passion for feeding folks and 48 years in the business. “We prepare our food with simple recipes. Our fresh jumbo lump crabcakes with zero fillers are famous far and wide.”
    Casual and friendly, Jerry’s is so local that community neighbors surround you in the café’s 54 seats and from murals covering the walls. Jerry and Jerry Jr. are there too, with friendly conversation, warm hospitality and often a tasty treat.
 
Jerry’s Place
1541 Solomons Island Rd., Prince Frederick; 410-535-3242; www.Jerrys-Place.com
Thurs.-Sat. Noon-8pm, Sun. 1-7pm

La Bella Italia

Some children know what they want to be when they grow up and never stray from their earliest career plans. This is true of Luca Assante, owner of La Bella Italia in Friendship. 
    Assante studied at a culinary school in his native Naples, Italy before moving to the United States to be near family. Here, he lives his passion by cooking and serving authentic Italian cuisine. One taste of his signature Seafood Linguine and you will understand why it has been featured as a special for years.
    This cozy cafe offers quick and friendly dine-in and take-out service, from individual pizza slices to complete family dinners that include pasta, salad and bread for six. 
    La Bella Italia lives up to its name. When Assante thinks of the name, it reminds him of the good food from his homeland. Stop in and taste for yourself and you will be transported to Beautiful Italy, too.
 
La Bella Italia
• 11 West Friendship Rd., Friendship; 410-257-1062
• 1460 Ritchie Hwy., Arnold; 410-757-3373
• 609-B Taylor Ave., Annapolis; 410-216-6061
• Piazza Italia, 7710 Ritchie Hwy., Glen Burnie; 410-590-4990
Lunch and dinner daily

Luna Blu Ristorante Italiano

Walk or drive on Inner West Street in Annapolis and you can’t miss Luna Blu, with its bright Mediterranean blue and sunshine yellow facade. 
    “I’m very excited to be entering our 17th year of business,” says owner Erin Dryden. “Inner West Street’s continued growth over the years with First Sunday Art Festivals, Dining Under the Stars and The Chocolate Binge Festival has been amazing. I’m proud to be a part of such a great community of local businesses and supportive patrons.” 
    Pulled in by the good vibrations of bright color, you discover a neighborhood place to retreat when you don’t feel like cooking. Yet it’s also a place to celebrate special occasions … or to gather a like-minded group for a wine-pairing dinner to benefit a favorite charity.
    Whatever your reason for coming, whoever you are, Luna Blu welcomes you.
    “I make all dishes to order, so they are fresh and customizable. Whatever your special diet — from gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or lower in calories — we can accommodate you,” Dryden says.
    Also made in-house are all sauces and desserts plus fresh-baked bread. 
    The range of authentic southern Italian dishes is enormous. You have to try and try again to discover your favorites.
    Luna Blu makes that easy with regular specials. Nightly, choose your antipasto, entre and dessert, served with house salad for $38.
    Monday and Wednesday, bottles of wine are half-price.
    Thursday evenings, try a special pairing of personal pizzas with half bottles of wine.
    Appetizers — the menu runs to a dozen — are half-price Sunday to Wednesday 5-6pm and Thursdays 5-9:30pm.
 
Luna Blu Ristorante Italiano
36 West St., Annapolis; 410-267-9950; ­lunabluofannapolis.com
Lunch and dinner daily

Mamma Lucia

Mamma Lucia is Little Italy for Calvert County. In 1997, Sal and Maria Lubrano pioneered real Italian cuisine when they opened in Dunkirk. In 2007, their second restaurant opened in Prince Frederick and on August 21, 2017, Chesapeake Beach welcomed the opening of their third restaurant: Mamma Lucia by the Bay.
    Bay Weekly readers have repeatedly voted Mamma Lucia the Best Italian Restaurant, and 2017 brought more awards: Best New Bar, Best New Restaurant and Best New Business to Mamma Lucia By The Bay. 
    Bay Weekly readers are not the only ones to recognize Mamma Lucia’s authentic Italian cuisine. In 2016, Sal and Maria traveled to New York City where they became part of an elite group of Italian Restaurant owners who received Ospitalita Italian, an award presented by the Italian Chamber of Commerce to restaurants that distinguish themselves as true Italian food.
    Ambiance is part of the Mamma Lucia recipe for success. The Chesapeake Beach location offers seasonal roof-top and patio dining, a tiki bar and the same exceptional service and exquisite cuisine that you have become accustomed to at the other two locations. If you want Wood Brick Oven Pizza made with authentic Italian ingredients in the Old World Italian tradition, you will have to visit the Chesapeake Beach location. 
    The menu at all three locations offers truly authentic Italian cuisine: antipasti, delize dal mare, polo, vitelli and an extensive wine list. Don’t forget — because Italians love sweets — dolci and espresso to complete your dining experience and put you in a bellavita mood. 
    You’ll find a romantic spot for two and big tables for tutta la famiglia. Mamma Lucia is also the region’s favorite Italian caterer. 
    Find special events including music and wine-tasting dinners on Facebook.
 
Mamma Lucia 
• 862 Costley Way, Prince Frederick; 443-486-4701
• 10136 Southern Maryland Blvd., Dunkirk; 301-812-1240
• 8323 Bayside Rd., Chesapeake Beach; 410-257-7700
www.mammaluciarestaurant.com

The Melting Pot

The Melting Pot offers the unique experience of fondues, both savory and sweet, made tableside. 
    The unique, interactive experience we provide gives families and friends the opportunity to unplug and interact with each other in a special way.
    The Melting Pot cheese fondue comes from award-winning cheese makers in Wisconsin and is made especially for us. 
    A popular new addition is pretzel bread among our cheese fondue dipper selections. We have added a Cuban Cheese fondue and, for winter, brought back our popular Apple Cider Alpine Cheese Fondue.
    The Melting Pot main course fondues feature premium ingredients such as hormone and antibiotic-free chicken, Certified Black Angus Beef®, all-natural pork tenderloin, fish such as ahi tuna, vegetables and even potstickers for you to cook in broth or oil.
    Our chocolate dessert fondue, served with breads and cakes for dipping, is our most popular item.
    We also serve farm-fresh salads.
    Order separately or in such combinations as our Four-Course Experience.
    We also offer over 50 wines to choose from, as well as an excellent selection of local beers to pair with your cheese fondue. 
    In addition to the classic favorites, seasonal cheese fondues, salads and chocolate fondues provide more variety from visit to visit. 
    Girls’ Night Out on the first and third Monday of each month is one of our more popular events. In addition to drink specials, we offer a four-course dinner for just $30.
    Owners Kevin and Julie Mason, who first worked at The Melting Pot in Arlington, Virginia, are excited to be starting our 16th year serving Anne Arundel County and to be participating in Annapolis Restaurant Week.
    Annapolis Restaurant Week, from February 25-March 3, is a great way to try out what we do while knowing what you will spend.
 
The Melting Pot
2348 Solomons Island Rd., Annapolis; 410-266-8004; www.meltingpot.com/Annapolis
Dinner nightly 5-10pm

Mi Pueblo II

At Mi Pueblo, we say mi casa es tu casa. We are a family-run, independent restaurant offering the most delicious and authentic Mexican dishes in the area with stunning traditional décor and a contemporary atmosphere.
    We offer a great place to meet, eat and socialize for lunch or dinner. You will appreciate all the handmade art and details that make our restaurant a beautiful piece of Mexico in Severna Park.
    Enjoy drinks with mangos and papayas plus many favorites of Mexican cuisine. Try the nachos supreme, fresh guacamole or queso dip, fajitas, grilled shrimp and veggies, quesadillas, pollo poblano, chile Coloardo, and finish off your meal with dessert of tres leches or flan.
    Or come in for margaritas and mixed drinks with appetizers.
    We hope to see you soon, amigos!
 
Mi Pueblo II
554-A Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park; 410-544-4101; www.mipueblo2.com
Lunch and dinner daily

Old Stein Inn

A destination since 1982, the new Old Stein Inn draws lovers of Gemütlichkeit from far and wide to the Mayo peninsula. You don’t have to be able to pronounce Gemütlichkeit to love its components: good beer and wine, good food in the German style, good fellowship and good times. But if you can’t, Mike Selinger — son of founders Karl and Ursula — will teach you how to say the word that’s at the root of all you enjoy at The Old Stein.
    Renovated in 2011 after a New Year’s Eve fire, the new Old Stein is a contemporary American fusion of a German lodge and bierstube. Inside, you feel cozy camaraderie. Outside, the Biergarten Bier Bär — heated and covered — brings excitement in winter and rustic charm in summer.
    Friday and Saturday, musicians add to the sense you’ve come someplace special. Some nights feature locals; others traditional German musicians, instruments and flair. 
    Food is, of course, the main attraction. You’ll be eating German cuisine in classic and modern variations, including The Old Stein’s legendary German take on crab soup. A variety of wursts, schnitzels and named specialties including Sauerbraten, Kassler Rippchen or smoked pork chops and Münchner Schweinhaxe, an ample pork shank. Wild game — duck, elk, quail and rabbit — is featured on the winter menu. Many dishes are served as either small or large plates.
    Vegetarians fare surprisingly well in this modern German inn, with salads, potato pancakes and spätzle, braised red cabbage and specialty dishes such as gemüse spätzle with steamed fresh vegetables. Fish is also on this menu. 
    Kids love lots at The Old Stein, including German pretzels, fries and pickles, dill or fried. 
    Drink is part of The Old Stein experience, with 10 craft beers on tap and a library of bottled beers. German wine deserves the reputation it has earned among oenophiles. 
    For weekend live entertainment and the latest news, check The Old Stein Facebook page and website.
 
Old Stein Inn
1143 Central Ave., Edgewater; 410-798-6807; ­www.oldstein-inn.com
Dinner Wed.-Sun. plus Sun. lunch

Petie Greens

”Petie’s strives to be the local place customers can count on for high-end ingredients and consistent quality,” says owner and executive chef Justin Chaney. “We only source local when in season and order higher quality meats for a better tasting dish, including USDA prime beef. We specialize in craft beers which you can’t find in other local spots and a small selection of gorgeous wines.” 
    “We have kept our menu small so that we can focus on fresh and in-season seafood and specialty dishes. I am particularly proud of the variety of dishes with favorites including homemade rockfish bites, succulent turkey legs and fresh roasted chickens, bacon-wrapped scallops, BBQ fried oysters and Boom Boom shrimp,” Chaney says.
    Specials change daily and are featured on the locally famous Daily Specials board.
    Chaney has been in the restaurant industry for 20 years. He started out as a busboy at a locally popular seafood restaurant, Stoney’s, and eventually found his way into managing the kitchen as head chef. He then pursued his passion for business, graduating from Salisbury University with a Business Administration degree.
    Now Chaney uses his experience and love of high quality food and meticulous ingredients to delight you at his own restaurant.
    Petie Greens’ slogan is All’s Good, and the mission is to provide an enjoyable, relaxing atmosphere for local residents to savor consistent, high-quality food that is local to the region.
    “We’re a staple in the community, supporting local talent, residents and all age groups, with a focus on the local area and regulars who live and work in the community.”
    Satisfied customers responded with Best of the Bay awards for New Bar and Best Bang for Your Buck.
    Petie Greens features daily specials, live music weekly, full bar with happy hour 3-6pm (half priced menu items) and outdoor dining in season. 
 
Petie Greens
6103 Drum Point Rd., Deale; 410-867-1488; www.petiegreens.com
Lunch and dinner daily

Pirates Cove

Classic Chesapeake hospitality comes in several styles at Pirates Cove, a waterfront tradition on the West River for decades. In every style, says co-owner Anthony Clarke, “Pirates Cove puts forward an honest commitment to welcome our community with our comfortable ambiance and a friendly service team.”
    For casually upscale dining, remodeling has opened broad vistas on the riverfront throughout the restaurant. With beautiful sunny water views, and the addition of great food from Chef Steve Hardison, Pirates Cove has a lot to offer new guests for lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends. The improvement of the banquet rooms has enabled guests to plan for family events such as wedding rehearsals, dinner parties, retirements and community events. 
    Chef Steve’s unique interpretation of local food has produced a seasonal menu of traditional South County favorites with original creations. Included are bluefish, crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, fresh oysters, rockfish and special rare delicacies like Alaskan halibut cheeks, blowfish and shad roe. Shrimp Louie salad or roasted beet salad with homemade dressings are likewise healthy and different.
    A relaxed style of hospitality is served at the bar, as welcoming a spot as you’ll find in Chesapeake country. Special offerings are piratical brews, including the famous Pirates Punch, and a wide selection of rums. Enjoy happy hour in the bar weekdays from 3 to 7pm. Arriving early in the bar or main dining room is essential this time of year to get a seat beside one of our two fireplaces. Nothing like the ambiance of a stone fireplace, maybe some Cream of Crab soup (60-year-old recipe) or a hot buttered rum to help you feel warm, comfortable and relaxed.
    All year long, local musicians on Friday and Saturday nights make you want to linger. If you do, you can stay in Pirates Inn — the only lodging for miles — or in your own boat, at Pirates Marina.
 
Pirates Cove Restaurant, Inn & Dock Bar
4817 Riverside Dr., Galesville; 410-867-2300; www.piratescovemd.com
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. brunch

Plaza Mexico

Plaza Mexico does double duty.
    In North Beach, it’s a favorite neighborhood hangout. For northern Calvert and southern Anne Arundel counties, it’s the best — and only — Mexican restaurant for 12 miles to the south and 24 to the north. 
    It’s got the looks for both jobs. Its central location, big windows on a walkable town, generous dining room and long, popular bar with side tables and televisions draw in locals and the Bayfront town’s many visitors. Touches of Mexico, as well as the menu, earn it its name.
    “The original Plaza Mexico is a famous shopping area in the heart of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico,” says owner Benny Ayala. “We try to bring some flair from Mexico, so our customers enjoy it.”
    As well as the flair, Ayala brings his hometown food to Chesapeake Country. Beyond the traditional tacos, burritos and quesadillas, less familiar dishes such as fajitas and chori-pollo translate seamlessly to American tastes. Guacamole made at the table should start your meal because it’s so good. Mexican beer and margaritas make tasty additions. 
    As the weather warms up, you can enjoy it all outdoors on Plaza Mexico’s large patio.
 
Plaza Mexico
9200 Bay Ave., North Beach; 443-964-6381; ­www.PlazaMexicoMaryland.com
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.

Rocco’s Pizzeria

Rocco’s Pizzeria is the pizza of choice in Annapolis since 1974. Awards hang in double layers on the wall for display. The Gargano family has owned and operated Rocco’s from the beginning. 
    Walk in and you will be overcome by the aroma of a New York style pizzeria. Customers keep coming back for the fresh-out-of-the oven experience. This local restaurant prides itself on being the place where everyone knows your name and your pizza. What else would you expect after 44 years? 
    It goes without saying that you should order pizza: thin-crusted New York style or the thick-crusted Sicilian. Roccos Pizzeria is all fresh. The dough and sauces are made daily using the family’s own recipes as well as shredding the whole-milk mozzarella. Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!
 
Rocco’s Pizzeria
954 Bay Ridge Rd., Annapolis; 410-263-9444; www.roccospizzashop.com
Lunch, dinner, carryout and delivery daily

Rogue Pierogies

Pierogies are Eastern Europe’s version of the stuffed dumpling, a food so comforting that many nations have their distinctive varieties, from kreplach to ravioli to samosa to wontons. 
    The small pockets of dough known as pierogies are traditionally stuffed with potatoes, cheese and onions. Though rooted in that tradition, Rogue Pierogies owner Krista Sermon, of Annapolis, is an innovator. Her current list stretches to 15 varieties, from ethnic variations like Kaczenskys, Gandolfinis and two curries to American favorites like Reubens and Buffalo chicken and blue cheese.
    Each little dumpling is handmade from local, fresh ingredients from Maryland farmers and without preservatives or artificial flavors.
Fully cooked and frozen, they are quick and easy to prepare.
    Find Rogue Pierogies at Anne Arundel County Winter Farmers Market (Sundays 10am-1pm), the Kent Island Farmers Market (Thursdays 3:30-6:30pm), Graul’s Markets in Annapolis and Cape St. Claire and Green Valley Marketplace in Arnold. You can also order online. Best of all, buy where they’re made: 1825 George Ave., Suite 1, Annapolis.
 
Rogue Pierogies
1825 George Ave., Suite 1, Annapolis; 410-858-7088; www.roguepierogies.com

Sam’s on the Waterfront

”Everything we serve is made fresh in our kitchen,” says Sam’s owner Andrew Parks.
    Sam’s on the Waterfront is the kind of place that is worth the drive, though the residents of Chesapeake Harbour, the gated marina community where Sam’s makes its home, don’t need to. You can also pull your boat right up to their dock bar and dine there. 
    It’s a scenic destination: cottage-lighthouse-styled with waterfront views wrapping three-quarters around for great views all seasons. You’ll also find cozy corners.

    Food is New American. Expect regional favorites made with local ingredients and inventively re-imagined in dishes that look as good as they taste.
    Parks opened Sam’s — named for his grandfather and daughter — to “bring diversity and creativity to the Annapolis food scene.”

    He recommends a couple of light dishes: Sam’s Famous lobster mac and cheese, award-winning burger or wings or Sam’s seafood pasta with jumbo shrimp, blue bay mussels and sea scallops served over linguini with tomato, spinach and Old Bay in Sam’s house cream sauce.

    Sam’s diverse wine list and liquor are as carefully chosen as the food.

    Nightly specials give you happy hour 3-7pm Tuesdays through Fridays. Local musicians entertain every Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7pm so you don’t have to wait till 10pm to hear great live local music.
    Find daily news, including specials, events like Oyster Fest, Party Gras, Full Moon parties and live entertainment, on the active Sam’s Waterfront Facebook page.
 
Sam’s on the Waterfront
2020 Chesapeake Harbour Dr. East, Annapolis; 
410-263-3600; www.samsonthewaterfront.com
Dinner Tues.-Sun., lunch Tues.-Sat., brunch Sun.

Thai Paradise 

Health, flavor and speed are the unbeatable combination you get from Thai Paradise. Now in its second year, the Severna Park carryout may be the authentic Thai source you’ve been seeking.
    “Variety and complexity best describe the dishes at Thai Paradise. We emphasize lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge,” says Nathan Thiesse, the lucky husband of owner and chef Tanida Thiesse. “We cook like we eat at home.”
    Specialties include Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles and Pad Ga Prow, a stir fry with meat or tofu, basil, bell pepper, Thai chiles and garlic.
    Som Tom is a papaya salad combining green papaya with tomato, Thai chili, garlic peanuts and dressing; it is spicy.
    Most curry items are spicy, but not all. Massaman Curry is like a delicate stew combining potatoes, peanuts and meat or seafood.
    Accomplished Thai chef Tanida Thiesse, who hails from Surin Province, brings to Severna Park the traditional dishes she ate growing up. She uses only dry ingredients imported from Thailand plus the freshest meat, seafood and vegetables. All dishes are made fresh from scratch. Every soup and entrée is cooked fresh to order, using the healthiest natural ingredients. 
    Order online at www.thaiparadisemd.com or call 410-544-7622 for speedy carryout or delivery. 
 
Thai Paradise
57 W. McKinsey Rd., Severna Park; 410-544-7622; www.thaiparadisemd.com
Lunch and dinner, Mon.-Sat.

Thursday’s Bar & Grill

Thursday’s Bar & Grill — a sports bar with 12 TVs, the NFL Ticket and a great happy hour — calls to you as you work your way home, when you want to relax and when there’s a big game. 
    That’s not its only call. 
    Thursday’s Bar & Grill calls you for its $10 lunch menu weekdays 11am to 3pm. “That’s a deal,” says general manager Mitch LeFevre. 
    Evenings and weekends call the family for good casual eating in the dining room.
    Much of the menu is homemade. Burgers are one-half pound fresh, never frozen, beef. Oysters and crabs — including steamed — are always local when in season. Fresh oysters are now in season. Thursday’s best-selling wings are fried in-house and repeatedly voted Best of the Bay by Bay Weekly readers.
 
Thursday’s Bar & Grill
1751 Horace Ward Rd., Owings; 410-286-8695
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. breakfast

Thursday’s Steak & Crab House

Atop an authentic decommissioned steamboat landing, Thursday’s Steak & Crab House offers casual destination dining. Because it’s at the end of the road in Galesville, you won’t find it unless you’re looking for it — or lucky. In summer, it’s a favorite destination by boat as well as by car, cycle or foot. Whatever the season you can’t beat the views — because you’re on top of the water.
    With that location, you’d guess correctly that Chesapeake delicacies top Thursday’s menu. Here fresh, local ingredients mean local oysters in winter and fresh rockfish whenever available. In season, crabs are dropped off at the dock daily. Order them steamed, soft-shell or in gluten-free crabcakes made with only Chesapeake Bay crabmeat and no filler or bread. Ask at other restaurants where your crab comes from, and you’ll see what a rarity this is. 
    This time of year, crab lovers can switch to snow crab legs. Steamed shrimp with a house blend of seasonings are always popular, as is Thursday’s Orange Crush. 
    Come summer, remember Thursday’s tiki bar, 25 boat slips and two dinghy docks. You’ll love it outside, and so will your dog. Thursday’s is so dog friendly that there’s even a doggie menu.
    About the name?
    “We’re where the weekend starts on Thursdays,” says general manager Monique Morgan.
 
Thursday’s Steak & Crab House
4851 Riverside Dr. Galesville; 410-867-7200
Lunch and dinner daily

The Ugly Pig

I really wanted a good ham sandwich — and my pickles are something, says George Williams, owner and operator of the The Ugly Pig. 
     We are mostly a carryout delicatessen, with a few seats outside and a few seats inside. We specialize in charcuterie, and we make everything we sell, from peanut butter to prosciutto, mayonnaise to miso. 
    The Ugly Pig is also a small market where you can pick up eggs, bacon, cuts from the wonderfully raised vaccine-free pigs I use at the store or any of our specialty house-made products to be even more tremendous cooks at home. We also do catering, and we also sell whole pigs.
    I created The Pig because I wanted to be a part of the national conversation about food that is happening right now. I think many of the foods I serve are being lost to modernity in some way or have a carbon footprint that is unnecessarily large. I think the money we spend on food and how we spend it is a way to be politically vocal. As a witness to the growth of the locavore movement, I’ve felt charcuterie was an under-produced niche to which I felt I had something to contribute.
    We source everything we can locally, and we deal face to face with our farmers.
     Because we make everything on the menu, we know for sure things like allergen information and dietary information in a very thorough way. We do not use high fructose corn syrup or any products with high fructose corn syrup. We do not use butter. We do not have a deep fryer. We do not have a microwave. We really like our ingredients and our farmers and want to do them justice. Our prepared dishes have layers of our ingredients — and a lot of effort. 
    Most of the food I sell is drawn from personal travel experiences. So every dish is a signature dish. 
    Flagship products include dry-cured bacon, honey peanut butter, chicken salad, split pea soup, vinegars we ferment to make mustards and all sorts of stuff, bone broth, sandwiches, Italian sausage, fermented foods like sauerkraut, celery and gochujiang, dinner dishes and so much more.
    We happily take orders over the phone. Because we source so much of our food from local farmers, our menu changes every week. For phone orders and for planning, I post the weekly menu on our Facebook page. There you can find everything from the day’s sandwich or dinner offerings to what charcuterie or pickled product is available. 
    Wondering about our name? It is drawn from song lyrics. Our logo, drawn by a local Annapolis High School student, is also inspired by the song’s lyrics.
    As the song goes, a pig offers the protagonist an adventure that is foreign, at times terrifying, but in the end very gratifying. I can’t say more. You’ll have to come in.
 
The Ugly Pig 
1841 St. Margaret’s Rd., Annapolis; 410-571-3060; www.facebook.com/TheUglyPigAnnapolis
Lunch & dinner Tues.-Sun.

Umai Sushi House

Good sushi is where you find it.
    Give yourself the surprise of finding very good sushi in a four-store shopping corner in Deale. If it were summer, you’d get a hint of good to come in the container garden that makes the parking lot a vibrant oasis. In the dead of winter, you enter on hope. Or perhaps you long for a steaming bowl of hot chicken soup.
    Step inside. Behind the sushi bar, the chef slices thin slivers of very fresh fish. Owner Chang Park, your likely waitress, greets you like a long-lost relation. Her warmth makes the 34-seat café hospitable. Much of Umai’s business is carry out, but with a pot of tea, a carafe of saki, a beer or a glass of wine, you may find yourself lingering at a table.
    For good reason. Umai’s authentic Korean dishes you won’t find the likes of for many miles. Less rare nowadays, the Japanese side of Umai’s menu compares favorably with trendier competitors in Annapolis and D.C.
 
Umai Sushi House
657 Deale Rd., Deale; 410-867-4433
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.
 
 
 
 

A teen discovers love’s bliss and pain

The year is 1983. Elio (Timothée Chalamet: Lady Bird) is a precocious 17. His professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg: The Shape of Water) and translator mother (Amira Casar: Night of 1,000 Hours) have raised him on poetry, music and philosophy.
    Despite his familiarity with culture and the arts, he hates his family’s annual summers in Italy. Each year, his father brings along a graduate student, who’s always a suck-up and who takes over Elio’s room.
    This year’s student, Oliver (Armie Hammer: Cars 3), breaks the pattern. Handsome, confident and only mildly ingratiating, Oliver attracts Elio’s interest. He delights in their intellectual sparring and craves the older man’s company.
    Feeling the building tension, Elio slowly realizes that he is feeling not dislike but longing. As he tumbles into sex and love for the first time, Elio discovers that he doesn’t know it all.
    Sensual, beautiful and impeccably acted, Call Me By Your Name is the sort of sweeping pastoral romance that stays in mind long after the credits roll. Based on a bestselling book brilliantly scripted by James Ivory, it’s about the heady joys and bone-deep aches of love. Think of it as a bodice-ripper for literature majors.
    Director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash) uses lush visuals of nature coming into bloom as both metaphor and message. Elio is burgeoning, and nature inspires his character to self-discovery and happiness. Like the slow-building passion between the lovers, pacing is unhurried, with long shots and sweeping landscapes.
    Speaking three languages, playing piano like a prodigy and falling in loving with a man when homosexuality was taboo, Chalamet masters every challenge. Yet his articulate, vulnerable Elio can’t find the words to tell Oliver his feelings.
    As Oliver, who comes from a far more conservative family, Hammer is charming. He makes it easy to see how Elio — and half the sleepy Italian town — fall for his easygoing smile. Despite Oliver’s appearance of confidence, Hammer shows layers of loneliness and sweetness as he tries to do the right thing for both the teen and his family.
    Call Me By Your Name is an endearing, honest portrayal of first love, where the only real villain is time. It will make you smile, and it’s likely to make you cry. Expect its excellence to garner award nominations for both Chalamet and Hammer.

Great Drama • R • 132 mins.
A clever premise and charming leads make the year’s best Halloween scare
      Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe: Tater Tot & Patton) has a terrible birthday. She wakes in a geek’s room after a night of drinking. She’s late to class. A glass of chocolate milk is spilled on her head. Then she’s brutally murdered. 
     Good thing she gets to wake up to try the day over. And over, as she dies each new day. Finally, she decides to stop her serial killer dead.
     As Tree investigates the many people who might want to kill her, she starts learning. She develops fighting skills; plans ways to turn the table on her killer; and tries not to act like a garbage person. 
     Can Tree change for the better? Or is she doomed to be murdered for all eternity? 
     Clever, funny and entertaining, Happy Death Day is a tasty piece of Halloween candy for horror fans. Director Christopher Landon (Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to this slasher version of Groundhog Day, focusing on comedy rather than terror. 
     There are jump scares galore, but nothing about Happy Death Day is truly terrifying. Even Tree rolls her eyes each time her killer — wearing the worst baby mask ever — tracks her down. 
     Snappy writing and two fantastic performances make the movie work. 
     Rothe is charismatic enough to pull off bad behavior without making the audience hate Tree. Nor does Rothe push the redemption arc too hard, allowing Tree to fix her more egregious behavior while retaining the sass that makes her fun. Her transition from terrified victim to daring heroine is deeply satisfying.
     As the nerd who helps her figure out the rules of her repeating day, Israel Broussard (Say You Will) is both charming and earnest. Unlike Tree, Broussard’s Carter doesn’t retain memories when the day resets. It’s hilarious to watch Tree recruit Carter to her cause in increasingly odd ways. 
     Entertaining as it is, Happy Death Day is far from perfect. Beyond the clever gimmick, the plot is standard. You’ll also figure out the identity of the murderer long before Tree and Carter do. Still, it’s easy to join the cast and crew in sheer fun. 
Good Slasher/Comedy • PG-13 • 96 mins. 
 
New this Week
 
The Florida Project
     Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives in a motel next to Disney World. Left on her own day after day by her well-meaning but neglectful mother, Moonee has only the harried motel manager (Willem Dafoe) to look after her. 
     Director Sean Baker is known for capturing slice-of-life stories in unexpected places. His filming style, which has included shooting on iPhones, makes his stories seem more like documentaries than works of fiction. 
     See it for Baker’s style, Prince and Dafoe’s rave performances and a story of how the innocence of childhood can make even the direst circumstances an adventure.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.
 
Geostorm
     In the near future, a network of satellites controls the weather and forestalls natural disasters. When the system goes down, all hell breaks loose.
     Tornadoes swarm across the plains. Tidal waves surge into major cities. Hail the size of small cars batters the population.
     A climatologist, a secret service agent and a nerd team up to stop these disasters by kidnapping the president.
     After a horrific hurricane season, Geostorm might seem relevant. It is not. This is a big-budget shlock fest that embarrasses its actors. Plus, effects look reused from the equally loathsome disaster flick 2012. 
Prospects: Disastrous • PG-13 • 109 mins.
 
Only the Brave
     As the Granite Mountain Hotshots battle the flames on Yarnell Mountain, the men think about the reasons they risk their lives to protect others. 
     Based on the true and tragic tale and featuring A-list talent including Jennifer Connelly, Josh Brolin, Jeff Daniels and Miles Teller, this movie should be both tearjerker and excellent drama. 
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 133 mins.
 
The Snowman
     When snow blankets a small town, there’s more to fear than frigid temperatures. A serial killer known as the Snowman emerges from hibernation to dismember women. 
     Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) teams up with a promising young recruit to finally trap the Snowman.
     This Scandinavian noir has all the components of a great thriller: bleak landscapes, isolation and good actors. Will the script go beyond a moody aesthetic and grotesque murders to make us care about the characters? 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 119 mins.
 
Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea ­Halloween
     The newest entry in Perry’s wildly popular franchise has Madea (Tyler Perry) and her friends venturing into a haunted campground on Halloween. As ghosts and ghouls attack, the crew must fight or flee. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 101 mins.

A young woman aspires to rhyme her way out of her dying town

      Patti Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald: The Rachels) spends her waking hours serving drunks in a dim bar in the bowels of New Jersey. When she’s not being harassed by customers, Patti must wrangle her mother, a hopeless alcoholic who uses the karaoke nights at Patti’s bar to relive her dreams of singing professionally. In her free time, Patti is the primary caregiver for her grandmother, who has accrued enough medical bills to keep Patti and her mother in debt for life.
     Though things look bleak, Patti has a dream: She wants to be a rapper. She spends her free time writing rhymes and practicing her flow. She shows promise, but Patti struggles to find support from fellow rappers, who dismiss her as a pathetic, fat white girl. 
     The game changes when Patti meets a mysterious man who plays subversive Goth death metal. Patti forms a ragtag crew that includes her grandmother, and the group cobbles together a few tracks for a CD, hoping to find fame and fortune. 
     Director Geremy Jasper makes his feature debut with a film that doesn’t push many cinematic barriers. The plot is predictable, you’ll know exactly where it’s going almost the moment the film begins. Jasper does manage to make the small Jersey town its own character, its tagged edifices and grimy interiors offering insight into Patti’s desperate need to get out. 
     Jasper stretches a little bit during Patti’s fantasy sequences, toying with light and effects to display the vivid interior of Patti’s mind. It’s a great contrast to the drab exterior world that she’s stuck in. 
     Patti Cake$ surpasses a hackneyed story thanks to the strength of its leads. As Patti, Macdonald is a revelation. She manages to make Patti’s dogged quest for recognition both relatable and sweet. She spits rhymes well and offers enough quiet desperation that the audience really roots for her to find her dream.
     As Patti’s alcoholic mother Barb, Bridget Everett (Saving a Legend) is brilliant. She is a sad shell of a woman, who bounces from bad choice to bad choice. She’s content to let Patti take care of her and her mother, but viciously lashes out whenever Patti tries to curb her destructive behavior. Still, when she performs, there are glimpses of the woman she was. Her powerful voice and magnetic performing style help explain why Patti loves a woman who clearly wasn’t a nurturing force in her life. 
     Patti Cake$ has a ton of heart and a cast that offers wonderful performances. If you’ve ever felt stuck in your life, or have a love for quirky tales of underdogs, this movie will be well worth the trip. 
Good Dramedy • R • 108 mins.
 
New this Week
 
Tulip Fever
     In the 17th century, Eurpoe was enthralled by a flower. The tulip had taken the world by storm, and Amsterdam built a lucrative industry around the culturing of the bulbs and blooms. 
     Merchant Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz) has made his fortune on the tulip trade and uses his prosperity to buy a pretty, young orphan bride. Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is little more than a bauble to her much older spouse and is prepared to live a life of opulent misery. That all changes when Cornelis hires a painter to capture his prized possessions — his wife and his tulips. 
      Sophia and the painter begin a torrid affair. He promises to steal her away, but Sophia knows her husband will spend all his money to track her down. Can the lovers come up with a plan to evade Cornelis?
     Based on the bestselling book, Tulip Fever is an historical romance with a pedigree. Legendary playwright Tom Stoppard penned the screenplay, which means the dialogue and character work should be beautifully detailed.
Prospects: Bright • R • 107 mins. 
 
Unlocked
      CIA interrogator Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is the only thing standing between the city of London and a biological terror attack. She can’t trust anyone as she attempts to neutralize the threat, including her own government. Her only hope is an unorthodox MI:6 agent (Orlando Bloom) who may be the key to stopping the attack. 
      Think of this film as a season of 24 condensed into two hours. Rapace is an excellent actress, but there’s only so much she can do to make such unoriginal plot points interesting. It is nice to see a woman fitted into the typical male savior role, but without anything new or interesting to say, this film feels like a rehash. 
Prospects: Dim • R • 98 mins. 

The Brothers Osborne on Nashville, Merle Haggard and growing up in South County

     Once upon a time, when the Brothers Osborne were just kids in Deale playing with their dad, you didn’t have to go farther than your local watering hole to hear them. Now they’re big time, chronicled in Rolling Stone and celebrated as Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year. Last year’s Dirt Rich tour sold out across America and Canada. 
     But their roots remain deep in Chesapeake Country. Their breakout hit, Mix It with Rum, was filmed with a local crowd at Happy Harbor and Skippers Pier in Deale. Their fans love them for their hometown pride.
     This summer, the brothers come home, playing Friday, August 25 at Calvert Marine Museum. Bay Weekly staffers and South County residents Audrey Broomfield and Kathy Knotts had hoped for a true interview with the country duo, but due to a tight touring schedule they had to settle for a phone call. This is an edited text of that conversation.
 
Bay Weekly Your long and successful music career started when you were kids backing up your father in a band that played local restaurants and taverns. When did you begin to see your music as a career?
John Osborne You have to commit to something like that at a very young age and just be really stubborn and strong-headed about doing it. It takes years and years of sacrifice and questioning whether you are on the right path or not. There really isn’t one specific moment but more like hundreds of small moments that remind you that that’s where you want to be.
 
Bay Weekly Where do you see yourself more at home, Deale or Nashville?
John Osborne Nashville now. It’s amazing in Nashville. I love it and call myself a Nashvillian. I feel like I’m such a part of the city. I’ve watched it grow over the last 10 years to blossom into an amazing town. The people are so warm and welcoming. It’s the best of living in a big city but with a small-town vibe.
TJ Osborne I love it here [Nashville]. I moved right after high school. All I had known was little ol’ Deale. I was used to waving at everyone and knowing everyone in school and growing up with them. Moving to a city: Nashville might as well have been NYC at the time. But now it feels smaller to me, and I know so many people here now. 
 
Bay Weekly Do people recognize you when you’re out and about?
John Osborne I see it more at home; it definitely happens, it’s hard for me to hide from people. I have long hair, a big beard and I’m six-foot-four. So I can’t really hide from anyone recognizing me. But I don’t mind if people want to come up and say hi and take a picture with me. It definitely happens a lot in town and more in Maryland. If you’re from Deale everybody already knows who you are anyway. I like it. I don’t mind the attention.
 
Bay Weekly Who or what was the biggest influence on your musical career?
John Osborne Our parents were our biggest influences. They both went to Nashville when we were younger. They write songs and record. They paved the way for us to become musicians. They are our biggest inspiration.
TJ Osborne Good songwriting really inspires me. I’ve always liked the crafting of a song. It was always something that stuck with me and gave me drive. Eventually alongside my brother, that turned into a career. Ultimately, you’ve got to have good songs. It just comes down to that. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have catchy lyrics you won’t be successful. Taylor Swift is a prime example. She is not really known for being this great singer, but her songs are what got her to what she is now.
 
Bay Weekly Out of all the venues you have played, do you have a favorite?
John Osborne My favorite venue is the Ryman Auditorium (in Nashville) where we recently played with Little Big Town. It was so much fun. There was great energy in that room.
TJ Osborne Ryman Auditorium in Nashville is a hard room to beat. It’s magical there. There’s history. The acoustics are second to none. You have this theater that feels so intimate. It’s a special experience every time.
 
Bay Weekly Since making it, you’ve played with quite a few big names. Who is your favorite star to play with?
TJ Osborne Little Big Town has been the most fun and supportive. They’re people who I am definitely proud to call my friends, and that has more to do with how cool and great they are as people and not just the success they’ve achieved. They are really, really talented on top of that. Sharing a stage with them is great. Some people’s lives are more crazy; some artists you don’t get to hang with as much. They’ve all been really great, good experiences.
John Osborne Little Big Town is one of our favorite groups, not only as a band but also as people. We’ve been very lucky to play with some really cool artists, from Chris Stapleton to Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Eric Church. We are big fans of all the people we get to play with.
 
Bay Weekly What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
John Osborne The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard is to work hard and be nice to people. Those two things can go a long, long way. You have to have some ability and talent, but if you don’t work hard and you’re not nice to people, your talent will go nowhere.
TJ Osborne Treat people with respect, be nice to people. If you have talent and you work hard and you’re nice to people and make friends, life will be good for you. From our parents we learned a strong work ethic, which kept us going. 
 
Bay Weekly How about memorable experiences with crazy fans?
John Osborne One girl, we signed her arm and she went and got it ­tattooed. 
 
Bay Weekly What is your favorite song to perform on stage?
John Osborne It Ain’t My Fault, our current single. It’s a fun, rocking tune and everyone sings along, and there’s a big guitar solo in the middle that I get to play. I love stretching it out and doing my own thing.
 
 
 
Bay Weekly What do you miss most about Deale and Maryland?
John Osborne Besides our family, I miss the people and the Bay. Deale has some of the most real people on the planet — straight shooters and hard workers — and I miss that the most. But equally I miss the Bay — and damn good crab cakes. We always eat crab cakes when we go home. People try to offer us crab cakes everywhere we go because we are from Maryland, and we just turn them down.
TJ Osborne Growing up in Deale was an immense influence. A lot of people don’t realize how country and rural Maryland really is. They can’t believe a country artist came out of there. 
I think as far as our music, I knew that if I ever sold out, everyone in my hometown would kick my ass. So I had to stay true to my roots.
The camaraderie you have with your friends and neighbors in a small community, that’s hard to get somewhere else.
I really miss being able to just go home and go fishing and walk out my door and do that.
 
 
Bay Weekly If you could play with any one person dead or alive who would it be?
John Osborne I would love to play with the Allman Brothers. Unfortunately Gregg Allman passed away recently, but I’d love to go back in time and play with the young Allman Brothers.
TJ Osborne I would love to play with Hank [Williams] Sr. No, Merle Haggard, that’s who. Hank Sr. was before my time, as were a lot of Merle’s songs, but I got to see Merle play live, he was just one of those guys.
 
 
Catch the Brothers Osborne on stage at Calvert Marine Museum, Friday, August 25. Tickets are still available, but hurry: www.calvertmarinemuseum.com.

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Where’s there’s music and wine, there will be dancing

     “I woke up and said, I can do this,” Onyx Linthicum reports of the morning he conceived the Southern Maryland Wine, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Funk Festival.
     The D.C. native and self-help writer imagined a country event where folks could get their groove on while diverse local and national artists brought cool music to offset the August heat.
      Back in 2015, Linthicum was ambitious, he admits. Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Funk covers a lot of musical ground. Could he pull in all that music? Would the fans come? Would the weather hold?
     Drawing in local vineyards and food purveyors added another challenge.
      But this was a labor of love. Linthicum grew up in the church, where the sounds of gospel music were his inspiration. In college, he promoted comedy and jazz shows while working as a technician for musicians making original recordings. He found inspiration, too, in the death of a close friend who wrote hip-hop they recorded together. Later he became associated with the Capitol Jazz event and worked on their events at Merriweather Post Pavilion. 
      Linthicum was right. He could. In its third year, the festival coming this weekend to the Calvert County Fairgrounds attracts 4,000 music lovers, up from 1,000 the first year. 
 
The Lineup 
      This year’s lineup features a lot of really good talent. I found myself listening to it over and over. My top two favorites are, like me, guitar players.
      Plus, who wouldn’t want to hear a guy named Chooky? Especially as he reminds me of the late Wayman Tisdale, a favorite of ours at home. 
     Chooky, aka GZAM recording artist Antone Caldwell, is a D.C. neighbor from a large and influential musical family who’s had a bass guitar in his hands since the age of five. A multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, he has played with a Who’s Who of musicians from Snoop Dog to Mariah Carey. 
     Drew Davidsen is a virtuoso guitarist selected by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the 10 hot players to watch. His latest album, A Good Life, was released in May to critical acclaim; even George Benson has endorsed him. Davidsen donates part of his recording profits to support the Ghanaian Mothers Hope, a charity in Ghana, West Africa, that builds schools, playgrounds and medical clinics. 
      There are women in this mix, too. Framewerk is a dynamic six-piece fronted by lovely SonJa, who looks like she knows how to take care of business. Get ready to move your feet as they take the stage.
     Back in the day, I wore the grooves out of my Tower of Power’s records. Fans like me will love the Will Power Band, hailing from the soul music-Jersey side of Philly. With a plethora of funk and R&B, this 11-piece band will get your groove on in a hurry.
     With 15 acts, the list just keeps going. 
     Bassist Christian de Mesones brings his Big New York & the Smooth Jazz All-Stars, featuring multiple Billboard-charting artists heard all over the airwaves of XM radio. De Mesones is also known for fronting the Groove Skool Band.
     Writer, producer and bandleader Rick White fronts guiltypleasures, which, as you might imagine, adds sensual soul music to the festival. 
     Another D.C. Metro area band, eight-piece Jazzy Blu, combines funk, jazz, R&B and alternative, keeping up with Linthicum’s vision. “No matter who you are, where you come from or what you request, Jazzy Blu has something special in store for you,” they say.
     Coloradan Tony Exum Jr. is a saxophonist extraordinaire who’s played since the age of 11 when his uncle gave him his first sax. He’s played with War and The Four Tops.
     Trumpeter Willie Bradley has performed worldwide, sharing the stage with many notable artists as well as maintaining a solo career.
      As their name implies, Unit 3 Deep is comprised of three talented musicians, Patrick Cooper on keys, David Dyson on bass and Duane Thomas on drums.
     D.C.’s The X Factor brings an eclectic mix of funk, R&B, rock and jazz. From sultry ballads to funky dance tunes, their two vocalists front an all-star four-piece band that will keep you moving on your feet.
      Sax man Marcus Mitchell fronts a smooth jazz quartet with infectious grooves and mellow melodic temperaments. A native of Temple Hills, he is also a businessman whose company, 24th Music, promotes other musicians. 
     When you hear trumpeter Rob Zinn, with The Rob Zinn Group, you’ll hear the influences of the masters blended into his music. 
     Keyboardist Marcus Young played with D.C. Legend Chuck Brown, the father of go-go music. His Groove Jazz mixes swing, fusion and Latin jazz. Young has toured with the Armed Forces Entertainment in the Mideast as well as playing throughout the States. He still finds time to lead the music ministry at the Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton.
     Guitarist and bassist Kevin Jackson, who hails from Baltimore, weaves a sensual stream of sonic magic from his smooth voice and phrasings on his Paul Reed Smith Guitar.
     It will take you two days to hear all that music.
 
Even More to Love
     You’ll have even more to love with 15 local vineyards — as many as bands — bringing wines from all over a state now garnering accolades. You’ll eat well, too, and you can even paint as you listen. Leave the kids at home for this adult festival.
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August 19 & 20, 10am-9pm with music nearly nonstop and DJ’s filling in the breaks. Calvert County Fairgrounds, Barstow, $30-$125 VIP: www.vendor-nation.com.

Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron beats her way through Berlin in this fantastic spy thriller

Ten days before the Berlin Wall falls, the KGB kills MI-6’s best agent. The list he acquired of all the operatives working on both sides of the Iron Curtain is in the wind. The list also identifies Satchel, a notorious double agent who plagues the British government.
    MI-6 sends their best agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron: The Fate of the Furious), to straighten out the mess. Her contact is David Percival (James McAvoy: Split), an agent who’s found the sex, drugs and punk attitude of Berlin more appealing than conventional spy work.
    To save her fellow agents, Lorraine must fight her way back to London and expose Satchel. Along the way, she cuts a bloody swath across both sides of the Berlin Wall.
    A stylish spy thriller with marvelous action, Atomic Blonde is a blast from start to finish. Think of it as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold for the John Wick generation. Director David Leitch, a former stuntman making his feature directorial debut, creates a fast-paced thriller with visceral action. Leitch has a talent for capturing the flow of a fight, with sequences that are brutal but peppered with humor.
    Leitch embraces the pop-punk aesthetics of 1989 Berlin, using spray paint title cards and muted tones with bright pops of color. An 80s’ synth-pop soundtrack gives the plot and action a frenetic quality that intensifies as Lorraine becomes more frantic.
    Theron offers a brilliant performance as Lorraine, whose ferocious physicality paired with her cool, collected demeanor make her a formidable character. Adding authenticity, she does most of her own fighting and stunts.
    As a corrupt MI-6 agent who may or may not still be working for the crown, McAvoy is a delight. He is a snarling, posturing mess of a man, who is far shrewder than he lets on. His dynamic with the more restrained Theron is both hilarious and fascinating.
    Wildly entertaining, action-packed and utterly watchable, Atomic Blonde is the popcorn flick of the summer.

Great Action • R • 115 mins.

No scares, but plenty of philosophic pondering

Death comes calling on the ordinary life of M (Rooney Mara: The Discovery) and C (Casey Affleck: Manchester by the Sea). C dies in a car wreck, leaving M alone in the world.
    Only she isn’t alone.
    C has followed M home. Covered now in an autopsy sheet, C is witness to M’s mourning, grief and eventual acceptance. Clearly, he is seeking closure with his wife. Yet when M moves, C stays behind.
    Now alone in the house, C passes the time chatting with the ghost next door, who has been at it so long its human name is forgotten. As he waits, other people move into the house. C sometimes tries to interact with the families, other times ignores them. Decades sail by.
    Is C doomed to haunt a shell of a home until he can remember nothing of his own existence?
    Borrowing from director Terrence Malick, writer/director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon) creates spectacular visuals and an obscure, metaphoric story in which concept dominates performance and plot. Centering a movie on a man under a sheet is a bold cinematic choice.
    C is basically a silent observer, a witness to the passage of time and the lives of others. In spite of the title, this is not a typical ghost story. The dread that builds here is existential, as C learns how inconsequential his life was. Expansive vistas demonstrate the miniscule place humanity holds in the vastness of the universe.
    Lowery is committed to languid pace and tone, and his Ghost Story takes a while to get going, with long stretches of silence and scenes that seemingly go on forever. For the first 20 minutes, you sit in a soundless theater, watching Mara gorge on a pie or Affleck stare sullenly. Expect awkward laughter from some audience members and perhaps a few glances at your watch.
    But the film eventually finds its feet, and if you’re willing to put in some mental effort, you’ll be rewarded. A Ghost Story reflects on our place in the universe, our need to be remembered and the billion joys and tragedies that unfold over the years in the same space. Don’t expect anything simple, including answers.

Good Drama • R • 92 mins.

Brilliant action in this new take on the storied retreat

In 1940, the outlook was bleak for the Allied Forces. The German army had driven British and French troops all the way to the beaches of France, trapping them against the sea. In Dunkirk, 400,000 soldiers waited for evacuation from France, scanning the seas for British destroyers as the Germans approached.
    German planes swoop over the massed troops, dropping bombs and spraying bullets. German U-boats sink vessels carrying troops from the slaughter on the beaches. England faces the reality that the war could be lost.
    To save at least a fraction of the army, England calls upon its people, conscripting small vessels to cross the English Channel to Dunkirk. Saving even 30,000 would arm the nation when the Germans inevitably invade.
    Amidst these calamitous circumstances, three men will meet their fates.
    Tommy (Fionn Whitehead: Him) is a private who will do anything to survive. When life or death are the choices, he understands that the drive for survival can make monsters of men.
    Farrier (Tom Hardy: Taboo) is one of three RAF pilots tasked with defending the ships and troops from German assault. In a skirmish with German fliers, his fuel gauge is damaged. He must decide whether his presence in the skies makes a difference in the face of overwhelming odds.
    Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance: The BFG) is determined to help the soldiers at Dunkirk. Setting out in his small boat with his son and another boy, he crosses waters littered with bodies and downed ships.
    Featuring nail-biting action and gorgeous cinematography, Dunkirk stuns with scope and beauty. A master of visual storytelling, writer/director Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) excels at staging and action. Dizzying camera work in the aerial battles captures the precariousness of the planes’ and crews’ existence.
    Nolan doesn’t depend on graphic violence to show the horrors of war. There’s plenty of violence, but he is more interested in psychological wounds. He shows the anonymity of war. Officers coolly calculate who, in essence, to spare and who to save. Soldiers swirl amid chaotic, random violence. Despondent men wade into the sea, swimming home to England their only chance at survival.
    In focusing on scope, Nolan sacrifices humanity. He spends little time mining for character moments in the middle of battle. As a result, we remain unconnected as these men go through hell.
    Heart aside, in both performance and production Dunkirk is one of the better war films of the past decade.

Good War Movie • PG-13 • 106 mins.