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Volume XVII, Issue 53 ~ December 31, 2009 - January 6, 2010

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Best of the Bay

We asked you to choose your favorites of 2009. Here’s how your votes tallied.

by Margaret Tearman and Diana Beechener

Best Bay Beach, Best Festival, Best Fishing Hole

North Beach

Fresh-air enthusiasts give the town of North Beach rave reviews for all things outside. With boardwalk, fishing pier and beach, life in North Beach is all about the Bay.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by Bay Weekly readers,” says North Beach mayor Mike Bojokles. “It takes a lot of hard work to make the town attractive and inviting, and as a community, we take great pride in the job we do.”

One of those jobs is keeping the Bay’s best beach clean and safe, and the mayor credits waterfront supervisor Richard Ball and his team of town attendants. “We want our beach to be the best it can be and a great place for families,” Bojokles says. “We like to say the town attendants are our town ambassadors.”

Townspeople are equally proud of their fishing pier. “It’s big with plenty of room for fishermen and their entourage,” says Bojokles. “We pressure-wash the pier to keep it clean and provide public restrooms. It is a nice place to fish.”

Bay Weekly readers voted the town’s annual Bay Fest the Bay’s Best Festival. The 25-year-old event now draws an estimated 20,000 people to the North Beach Bayfront for the weekend-long party. With more than 100 vendors, each screened by the town every year, there is plenty of fun for everyone.

“It’s great Bay Weekly readers voted Bay Fest the best,” says Bojokles. “We agree. After 25 years of tweaking, I think it’s safe to say we’ve got it figured out.”

Best Local Musician

John Luskey

Honky-tonk rhythm rocks our readers who voted John Luskey Best Local Musician.

Luskey, a Southern Maryland native, was just 13 years old when he wrote his first song. By the ripe old age of 18, he had made a name for himself in Southern Maryland.

Today Luskey and his band-mates, Jack Bannister (bass) and Dwayne Taylor (drums) play to fans as far away as Nashville, New Orleans and Key West. They have performed with country music superstars Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith.

But our local star still comes home to play plenty of dates. Catch Luskey and the band throughout the year at Calypso Bay in Deale and at a New Year’s Eve gig at Middleton Tavern in Annapolis.

Best Butcher & Best Deli

My Butcher & More

Butcher Mike Smollon believes happy meat tastes better, and Bay Weekly readers agree, naming My Butcher and More Best Butcher and Best Deli.

“We sell unadulterated meat,” Smollon says. “It’s not filled with hormones and antibiotics. It was raised free-range, given fresh water to drink and fresh air to breathe. It makes a difference.”

Smollon buys a lot of meat from local farms in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. He’s proud to have visited every farm My Butcher buys from.

“We’ve met the farmers and have seen how the animals are raised,” he tells Bay Weekly. “The farmers are very exact about their standards. They are like grown-up 4-H’ers, keen about how they raise their animals, and that means a lot to our customers. I like to think I get my passion from them.”

At My Butcher and More, the interest in the meat they sell doesn’t end when it leaves the store.

“We have Meat 101 classes for our customers,” Smollon says. “We break down an animal by cut and give lessons on how to best cook each cut.”

About being voted Best Deli, Smollon is flattered but not surprised. People are always telling him how much they love the sandwiches.

“Our sandwiches are big,” he says. “Our slogan is we don’t make our sandwiches. We build ’em.”

My Butcher and More: 1410 Forest Dr., Annapolis: 410-295-7500;

Best Art Gallery


You never know what you will find at ArtWorks@7th, Bay Weekly readers’ favorite art gallery.

The artists’ cooperative opened in 2004 with less than a dozen members sharing a small room above Nice & Fleazy Antiques. In October 2006, they took their show across the street into a renovated beach cottage, expanding the gallery space three times over.

Today you can find the work of 25 artists, including Nevin Bossart, who serves as the group’s vice president.

“Because we have such a diverse group of artists, there’s something for everyone,” Bossart tells Bay Weekly.

Diverse is an apt description. At any given time, the art in the gallery includes hand-painted glass, ceramics, jewelry, collages, photography, and watercolors, oil, pastels and acrylics.

The artists are all local, most of them from Calvert County, with a few members from Charles, Prince Georges and St. Mary’s counties. The members staff the gallery, hang the work and hold a monthly show featuring one or more of their artists.

Suzanne Shelden is one of those artists, proud of the gallery and its recognition by Bay Weekly readers.

“It’s a very friendly gallery, and people are responding to our enthusiasm,” Shelden says. “We are all very excited about being named Best Art Gallery by Bay Weekly.”

ArtWorks@7th: 9128 Bay Ave., North Beach: 410-286-5278;

Best Fresh Produce

Whole Foods Market

For just one perfect pomegranate or enough apples for your favorite pie, Bay Weekly readers look no farther than Whole Foods Market. It’s their favorite place for fresh fruit and vegetables.

In its gleaming new space in Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole — more than 50,000 square feet — local produce mingles with hard-to-find fruits and vegetables. Often trays next to fresh piles of produce offer shoppers samples of the simple, scrumptious flavors of chemical-free fruits and vegetables. Whole Foods Market also makes it easier for locavores to fill their carts: Produce is labeled by origin.

“We really value this award,” says Amy Chase, community liaison and marketing specialist. “We know the folks who read Bay Weekly are our core customers. We’re proud that they recognize Whole Foods as their source for best local produce.

Whole Foods Market: 200 Harker Pl., Annapolis: 410-573-1800;

Best Golf Course

Twin Shields Golf Club

Insider tip: Twin Shields Golf Club is Calvert County’s best-kept secret.

Bay Weekly readers can tell you all about it: They voted the public golf course the Best of the Bay.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the 18-hole, par-70 championship golf course was conceived and built by identical twins Ray and Roy Shields on 300 acres of tobacco farmland in Dunkirk. Today it is still very much a family affair, run by Roy’s daughters, Karen and Diane Shields, who, along with the staff, take pride in making it personal. They all greet regulars by name in the friendly atmosphere.

Readers also appreciate the golf pace. Here, a round of golf averages four hours on weekends, a much faster-paced game than the normal five- or five-and-a-half-hour rounds played at comparable courses.

“You can tee off at 7am and be back in the parking lot by 11am,” says resident pro John Dodson. So you still have the afternoon to spend with family or run Saturday errands. Speeding up the game are golfers who practice ready golf: “When it’s your turn to play, you’re prepared,” Dodson says.

“We think 40 years says it all,” agree Karen and Diane. “40 years of beautiful grounds, 40 years of loyal golfers, 40 years of having a fabulous staff. It all makes for 40 years of endless memories. We feel so fortunate and deeply appreciate this award.”

Twin Shields Golf Club: 2425 Roarty Rd., Dunkirk: 301-855-8228;

Best Antique Store

Then & Again Antiques

When it comes to buying old stuff, readers say they like to shop Then & Again Antiques.

Owners Dave and Beverly Rossetti love stuff. Beverly insists she got hooked while shopping yard sales and flea markets with her father. Dave says he started collecting antiques when he married Beverly in 1976. Although we know that’s not what he meant, we do know their shop on West Street resembles grandma’s attic. It’s filled to the rafters with everything imaginable, from old country-store advertising to fine china and glassware. And a lot of vintage jewelry. It is a fun place, and that’s just how Beverly and Dave want it.

“People like our shop,” Beverly says, “because we have fun with it.”

The Rossettis are branching out to do estate sales, mainly because they can’t fit much more into the store.

“I can’t buy everything people have in their homes and bring it to the shop,” says Beverly. “I tried, but it doesn’t work.”

Shoppers are greeted by Carmella, the Chihuahua. The Rossettis call her “our greeter and carpet sweeper. We always keep hot coffee and cookies for our customers, and Carmella cleans up the crumbs.”

Carmella, Beverly and Dave are delighted with the recognition by Bay Weekly readers. “Thank you for voting for us. This is just great.”

Then … & Again Antiques: 2009 West St., Annapolis: 410-573-0313;

Best Coffee House

Zü Coffee

Facing rat-race commutes, economic downturns and the Monday morning blues is a little easier with a daily cup of coffee. Bay Weekly readers agree that the cup of brimming java joy is bought at Bay Ridge’s Zü Coffee.

“I always want to have the Cheers effect. I want my people to know who their customers are,” says owner Doug Henderson. “It isn’t about collecting money; it’s about giving something to your friends.”

You have plenty of options for your morning jolt and afternoon pick-me-up. Zü offers six in-house blends of coffee, specialty caffeine drinks, zesty sandwiches and smoothies.

“I always get the coffee with soy milk,” says Annapolitan Sherri Bramlett, who raves about the coffee spot’s drive thru. “I like their customer service the best. They’re always cheerful.”

The two-time best coffee winner believes that the secret to great coffee is in the brew.

“I make sure we roast a great bean. I use the best products I can possibly find,” Henderson says. “I try to give the customer a good value and a good experience.”

 Whether you’re cueing your car in the drive-thru or parking yourself by the shop’s fire, it’s Zü Coffee’s goal that you feel cared for as well as caffeinated.

Even those who don’t place an order get perks from the coffee sellers.

“When I drive thru they always give me a dog biscuit for my dog,” Bramlett says.

In the coming year, Zü Coffee looks toward expansion. Henderson hopes to open a second Annapolis location and start a mail order business.

Zü Coffee: 934 Bay Ridge Rd., Annapolis: 410-990-0731;

Best New Business of 2009

Deale Hardware

Now everyone in Deale has a hammer. Voted Best New Business of 2009, Deale Hardware opened its doors in March.

“I think we were voted the best new business because we have a clean, new, shiny store, staffed by people who are friendly and want to help,” says co-owner Jim Weaver.

And because customers can find just about everything they need for their home projects

“We found customers who live here don’t want to drive to Annapolis,” Weaver says. “They tell us they would much rather shop in Deale — that is, if they can get what they need and for a good price.”

At Deale Hardware, the friendly staff will help you find whatever you need: boxes of nails, power tools, paint and paintbrushes, plumbing supplies, rakes, shovels and saws.

“We work to have it all,” says Weaver. With the exception of large lumber. People will still need to leave the neighborhood for that.

Deale Hardware: 668 Deale Rd.: 410-867-8080;

Best Bay-Friendly Business

Leeward Market Café

Lisa Park bought Leeward Market in March of 2009 with the dream of making the Eastport market and café a “neighborhood meeting place.” She wanted to do it her way, making the Eastport business not only a good place for people, but just as important, good for the environment. Bay Weekly readers think she’s living up to her dream. They voted Leeward Market Best Bay-Friendly Business.

Park doesn’t just talk the talk.

“We recycle everything,” she tells Bay Weekly. “We even take the garbage home to compost or to feed to the chickens.”

Old cork floors found a new life as tabletops in the café, keeping them out of the landfill. To reduce the amount of plastics in the environment, Park discourages bottled water, even if the choice costs her profits.

“I offer free filtered water to my customers instead of bottled water,” Parks says. “And I encourage my customers to use the ceramic cups instead of the disposable ones by offering free refills.”

Local products are showcased in Leeward Market. Park gets her eggs and grass-fed beef from Ivy Neck Farm in South County.

“I try to use as much local stuff as possible and do everything I can to support local businesses,” says Park. “The less distance material travels, the less fossil fuel is consumed. I hate to see waste.”

In addition to the Bay Weekly Best of the Bay award, Leeward Market received an Environmental Stewardship Certification for its green business practices from the city of Annapolis.

“It is important that I run the business with the same priorities I have in my life,” says Park. “We can help the environment with a conscientious lifestyle.”

Leeward Market Café: 601 2nd St., Annapolis: 443-837-6122;

Best Ladies Boutique

Chez elle Boutique

Cathreen Benny says it’s fun to dress up at Chez elle, and Bay Weekly readers agree, voting it Best Ladies Boutique.

Benny moved into her new location on Bay Avenue in North Beach this spring and has filled the cozy shop with jewelry, accessories, great purses and unique clothing.

“I sell clothes for real women, not just teenagers,” Benny says. “I have everything from size 2 skinny jeans to size 3x for those women with curves.”

After the snow melts, Benny will bring in a full line of swimwear, assuring a fashionable summer. She keeps her inventory fresh, with new orders coming in regularly.

“My customers like that they can find something in my shop that nobody else is wearing,” Benny tells Bay Weekly. Including what they’ve got on their feet.

“There is always a reason to buy shoes,” she says. “Even if it’s Monday and it’s raining. That’s a good enough reason.”

The shop enjoys a stream of regulars who Benny values as more than customers. They are her friends.

“When I don’t see someone for a while, I worry about them,” says Benny. “Like Peg. She’s 84 years old. She doesn’t always buy something, but we always enjoy a good visit. When she doesn’t come in, I worry.”

She appreciates the customers, and says it makes this recognition even sweeter.

“It’s such a lovely gesture because the customers chose us,” Benny says. “I am very grateful.”

Chez elle: 9132 Bay Ave., North Beach: 410-257-7000;

Best Mechanic

Boone’s Automotive

To keep your clunker from going kaput or to keep your super car fine-tuned, travel no further than Boone’s Automotive. According to Bay Weekly readers, mechanic Kent Boone is the best.

“We’ve been doing this for 26 years,” Boone says. The shop’s specialty is computer diagnostics: finding problems with drivability, transmission, emissions, headlights and taillights — pretty much everything from A to Z.

In business as Boone’s Automotive for 10 years, the family-run business is proud of a staff of technicians who boast 100 years of combined experience. Their full-service automotive center repairs all vehicle models, from basic maintenance to installing quality Jasper engines.

“We are honored again by our clients and are truly humbled by this award,” says Teresa Boone. “What a great way to celebrate our 10th year in business!”

Boone’s Automotive: 5861 Deale-Churchton Rd., Deale: 410-867-4191.

Best Place to Buy a Bauble

W.R. Chance Jewelers

W.R. Chance has been decorating the necks, wrists, fingers and ears of Annapolitans with fine jewelry since 1949.

The classic jewelry store is now run by Bruce Chance, the grandson of the founder. The Chance family’s business motto has remained unchanged for four decades:

Providing our customers with reliable service and the highest quality are the principles of our business: Your satisfaction is our only means for success.

You probably don’t know as much about fine jewelry as the staff at Chance, many of whom are family members. But you feel like you do, Bay Weekly readers said, as they guide you through their collection of jewelry by the finest designers and manufacturers from all over the world, including diamonds and colored stones selected for quality and rarity.

“We take pride in the fact that we can provide jewelry at competitive prices while using the highest quality in precious materials and workmanship,” Bruce Chance told Bay Weekly.

Chance also does painstaking repairs.

W.R. Chance Jewelers: 110 Main St., Annapolis: 410-263-2404:

Best Crabhouse

Mike’s Bar & Crabhouse

Marylander’s are picky about crabs. Some say we worship the crustacean. In a category with lots of competition, Mike’s cracked the rivals to be named Best Crabhouse by Bay Weekly readers.

The family-owned and -run business has been steaming crabs for 55 years. Tony Piera credits their long-running success to the quality of what they do.

“It’s simple. We don’t pre-steam our crabs,” he tells Bay Weekly. “We cook them as they’re ordered.”

The scenery is pretty good, too. Park yourself at a picnic table on the huge deck overlooking the South River and watch the boats cruise by. When the weather is inhospitable, there is plenty of room inside.

Either place, Piera guarantees you’ll love your crabs.

“We’ll take back any crab,” he says. “We have a saying that if you come to Mike’s and get a bad crab, it’s your fault for eating it.”

Mike’s Bar and Crabhouse: 3030 Riva Rd., Riva: 410-956-2784;

Best Veterinarian

Dr. Grant Nisson, Muddy Creek Animal Hospital

When Bay Weekly’s editor-at-very-large Moe is feeling punky, he takes our readers’ recommendation and visits Dr. Grant Nisson at Muddy Creek Animal Hospital.

Dr. Nisson has been practicing veterinary medicine for 28 years. Originally from Rockville, Nisson began his career in Southern California, until the lure of home brought him back to Maryland. His uncle, once a baker at the old Pat’s Bakery on Deale-Churchton Road, told him the community needed a vet. He and his wife Debbie came, saw and stayed.

“Southern Savings bank gave us the loan to start the practice,” Debbie tells Bay Weekly. “We started the practice on September 30, 1988 at 7:15 in the morning.”

The practice has grown since those early days, but Dr. Nisson still practices old-fashioned pet doctoring. He still makes house calls.

“We make house calls for people who need them,” Dr. Nisson says. “People who aren’t mobile or who have animals that don’t do well in the clinic setting. Sometimes they have so many animals it makes more sense for me to go to them.”

A poster hangs in one of his examining rooms, summing up his love and respect for his patients: “A dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.”

“I’m honored but surprised by the recognition,” Dr. Nisson tells Bay Weekly. “We try to do a good job, and I’m happy that our patients think so too.”


Muddy Creek Animal Hospital, 5518 Muddy Creek Rd., West River: 410-867-0770:

Best Place to Buy a Bauble

Maertens Fine Jewelry

Maertens Fine Jewelry and Gifts in Solomons Island, a family-owned boutique, has charmed Calvert County with precious adornments and Heather Maertens’ original regionally inspired designs since 2002. Maertens believes that giving back to the community is part of doing business. One of the ways she do so is with her custom-designed pieces. A portion of each sale is donated to school art projects and local charities. Her Sand Dollar supports the Relay for Life, and her newest, the Shelter Dog series, benefits homeless pets.

“This is the first year for this one,” says Heather. “Every year we’ll pick a new shelter to support. This year it is the Calvert Animal Welfare League.” Heather’s Puppy Love charm supports the Humane Society of Calvert County.

“We’re so excited to win this award,” Heather says. “We appreciate our clients. We have a lot of familiar faces we see over and over again; even people who have moved away come back to see us. We just love what we do.”

Maertens Fine Jewelry and Gifts: Solomons Town Center, 13342 HG Trueman Rd., Solomons: 410-394-3990;

Best Salon, Best Massage Therapist

Alexander’s of Annapolis

At Alexander’s of Annapolis in the Festival at Riva shopping center, you’re wrapped in an atmosphere of luxury. That’s the quality that makes Alexander’s a repeat Bay Weekly Best of the Bay winner.

On one side of the salon, hair is the crowning glory. Stylists curl, straighten, lengthen, trim and tint your tresses.

“We treat everyone like it’s their first time,” says owner and stylist Alexander Westmoreland. “Every client gets a consultation, even if they’ve been coming here for 10 years.”

On the other side is Alexander’s renowned day spa, offering a full menu of services to improve your body from top to toe, from eyebrow waxing to massage and whole-body wraps to chocolate pedicures.

And then there is one of life's greatest pleasures — a massage. Bay Weekly readers voted Alexander’s staff masseuse Patty Allen the Best Massage Therapist.

“What makes our business special is the customer service, our friendly atmosphere and our talented staff who do amazing hair color and body treatments,” Westmoreland says. “The salon has a friendly atmosphere. It’s an upscale salon and day spa, but it’s got a very comforting feel about it.”

You’ll leave feeling like a new person, and you might look like one too.

Alexander’s of Annapolis: 2307B Forest Dr.: 410-266-6694;

Best Overall Restaurant, Best Dock Bar and Best Oysters

Skipper’s Pier & Dock Bar

Bay Weekly readers have awarded Skippers Pier the triple crown of food and drink. Perched on the shore of Tracy’s Creek, the Deale restaurant is owned and run by Chef John Kozik.

“We have had a goal from the beginning to focus on quality products and giving guests a comfortable environment and dining experience, and we are sticking to that in spite of the economy.”

It’s easy to see why Bay Weekly readers chose Skipper’s as the Best Dock Bar on the Bay: If you were any closer to the water you’d be in it. The bar protrudes like a hitchhiker’s thumb into Tracy’s Creek, and just beyond that popular waterway’s entrance to Herring Bay and the whole Chesapeake.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Skipper’s inside bar; readers said they liked it too. But with a location like this, who’d go inside? On even the hottest nights, you and the giant replica parrot are well placed for Bay breezes. The Jimmy Buffett-partying spirit is alive and well here, often until long into the night.

This year, Skipper’s also took the prize for best oysters.

“We always have a local oyster,” Kozik says. “We also typically have three to seven others, from both coasts.” On Tuesdays when oysters are in season, shucker Eric pries shells from 5 to 8pm, serving up the succulent bivalves for 25 cents each.

“We appreciate the recognition from Bay Weekly readers,” says Kozik. “They tell us this is where they want to spend their time. That works for us.”

Skipper’s Pier: 6158 Drum Point Rd., Deale: 410-867-7110;

Best Crab Soup ~ Tied

Café Normandie

Pirates Cove

Suzanne Evennou of Café Normandie thinks the secret for her success in in the sherry. “We use a cream sherry,” she tells Bay Weekly. “That’s our secret. Plus we’ve been preparing and serving this recipe for about 10 years now, so we’ve had time to perfect it.”

Jackie Donaldson of Solomons has a different taste on the subject. She voted for Pirates Cove’s recipe.

“It’s the best crab soup I’ve ever eaten,” she tells Bay Weekly. “Good flavor, good consistency. It’s hard to put my finger on it. But I order it every time. It’s so good, I bring a bowl home for my mother, Anita. She loves it, too.”

Café Normandie, 185 Main St., Annapolis: 410-263-3382;

Pirates Cove, 4817 Riverside Dr., Galesville: 410-867-2300;

Best Bakery

Sweet Sue’s Bake Shop

Readers followed their noses to the source of the scent, freshly baked treats at Sweet Sue’s. Just a taste of the North Beach bakery’s muffins, cookies and cakes was enough to name Sweet Sue’s as the Best Bakery on the Bay.

Sweet Sue’s is a family affair. Gary Dzurec manages the business, Sue Dzurec oversees the bakery and daughter Lauren Lebkicker is the day-to-day shop manager.

“Sue’s main focus is wedding cakes and specialty cakes, like anniversary cakes,” Gary says. “But her chocolate éclairs are a customer favorite. Our brownies are to die for. They’re a cake brownie with chunky peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate.”

The Dzurecs make it their business to know their customers and give them what they ask for. Like the morning walkers.

“They come in every morning for a cup of coffee and a cookie,” says Gary. “One guy told me he was missing his particular sweetener, which we don’t usually put out. But now I keep a box of his sweetener under the counter just for him.”

Nanette Cummings of North Beach says the sweets are wonderful, but it’s the friendliness of the shop that brings her back day after day, often with her grandson, Wyatt.

“They are all so friendly, and they greet me by name,” says Cummings. “And their cakes are so good. Just today I got a piece of ultra-rich chocolate cake. It’s going to take me three days to eat it.”

Warm up on a chilly day with a cup of hot tea or coffee with your treat. When spring arrives, take a break at one of the street-side café tables. Either way, it’s a sweet way to do something nice for your taste buds.

Sweet Sue’s won Best Bakery, but you’ll find more than sweets. Lauren specializes in homemade wraps, soups and quiche.

Sweet Sue’s Bake Shop and Coffee Bar: corner of Bay Ave. and 7th St., North Beach: 410-286-8041;

Best Vegetarian


Bay Weekly readers know that vegetarian fare need not be limited to salad or hunks of tofu. At Lemongrass, vegetarian taste buds are treated to the stand-up-and-take-notice flavors of traditional Thai cuisine. A full menu page lists the spicy and mild preparations of tofu, vegetables and rice noodles for the discerning herbivore.

“Not many people in town have a vegetarian menu,” says owner Gavin Buckley. He and business partner Jody Danek are both admitted Thai food addicts.

The eggplant is Buckley’s favorite. It’s prepared with basil, sweet chilies, red and green peppers, vegetable sauce and a little bit of sugar.

“Our customers all love the crispy string beans,” he tells Bay Weekly. “They are fried but in a lighter way so they’re not greasy.”

The Southeast Asian flavor doesn’t stop at the food. Wooden tables line the sunny yellow walls, giving diners the impression of dining beachside in Phuket, not a restaurant on West Street.

With the success of Lemongrass, Buckley and Danek are expanding to another latitude. In January they’ll be opening what Buckley describes as a “Latin version of Lemongrass. The food will be served family style and will be predominately California style Mexican — not all smothered in cheese — with the focus on seafood like fish tacos and cerviche.” Buckley and Danek are hoping Bay Weekly Readers respond to the new place. “Next year we expect to be voted ‘Best Mexican’ too.”


• 167 West St., Annapolis: 410-280-0086.

• 2225 A Defense Hwy., Crofton: 410-721-1111

• Lemongrass Too, 2625 A Housely Rd., Annapolis: 410-224-THAI (8424).

Best Pizza

Rocco’s Pizzeria

For Bay Weekly readers, pizza isn’t a science. It’s a religion. Devout Bay Weekly readers worship Rocco’s, which won best pizza for the third year.

“Everything’s made fresh daily,” says general manager Joe Gargano. “The dough and the sauce, everything.” Fresh ingredients are combined in a 40-year-old recipe that’s a trade secret.

The price is right, too. For under $20 you can enjoy fresh pizza, melting mozzarella sticks and more.

“I don’t normally order pizza anywhere, but I went there and I really thought it was fresh tasting,” says Annapolitan Sherri Bramlett.

Fresh ingredients alone don’t make or break a pizza. Cooking technique can create crisp crusts or mushy messes.

“We use a traditional deck-style oven,” Gargano explains. “It’s a gas oven with a hotter more intense flame.”

Gargano gives credit to quality, price and friendly customer service for Rocco’s success.

“We’ve been in business for 35 years, and we give them exactly what they expect when they come,” he says.

If you don’t know Rocco’s or are overwhelmed by topping options, Gargano’s has a tried-and-true Rocco’s order to recommend:

“You always just start out with a cheese pizza. That way you can just taste the ingredients,” he says. “You come get a slice, and you’re hooked.”

Rocco’s Pizzeria: 954 Bay Ridge Rd., Annapolis: 410-263-9444.

Best Prix Fixe

Café Normandie

An Annapolis staple for 23 years, Café Normandie brings the taste of Champs de Elysees to Main Street. The fixed-price menu is a local favorite, especially in today’s tough economy. Bay Weekly readers have good taste — and recognize a good deal: they voted Café Normandie as the “Best Prix Fixe restaurant.

“I think one of the reasons Bay Weekly readers chose us was because we lowered the price by $4 this year,” says owner Suzanne Evennou. “It’s a great value at $24.95.”

The three-course meal offers diners a choice of six appetizers, eight entrees and three desserts.

“One of the favorites is our duck mousse pate and Caesar salad,” says Evennou.

The entrée choices include fish, beef and poultry. One of Evennou’s favorites is the roast duck with raspberry sauce.

Last but hardly least is dessert: fresh fruit tarts, chocolate éclairs and cheesecake, all freshly made, in-house.

The quality of the meals remains steady, but there have been some changes. Gone are the signature lace café curtains. And the tablecloths. It’s part of the greening of Café Normandie.

“We’re doing what we can, including cutting down on what needs to washed,” Evennou says. “We’ve replaced the tablecloths with recycled marble tables. We do our own composting at our farm in Upper Marlboro.”

Future plans include growing their own vegetables and herbs in a greenhouse: good for the environment and for the customers.

Café Normandie: 185 Main St., Annapolis: 410-263-3382;

Life on the Bay

Bay Hero

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Bay Zero


Issue Needing More Attention


Best Bay Getaway

St. Michael's

Best Bay Beach

North Beach

Best Place for People Watching

Annapolis City Dock

Best Fishing Hole

Galesville ... Herring Bay ... Bunky's Hill ... Rod n Reel ... Chesapeake Bay ... Helen Point ... North Beach Boardwalk ... Bloddy Point ... Naval Air Station, St. Mary’s Co.

Best Picnic Spot

Quiet Waters Park

Best Place to Let Kids Run Wild

Quiet Waters Park

Best Place to Pop the Question

Treaty of Paris

Best Place to Tie the Knot

Treaty of Paris

Best Art Gallery ~ Tied

Carmen’s Gallery

Best Museum

Calvert Marine Museum

Best Local Band, Musician or DJ

John Luskey

Best Charity Fundraiser

Cancer Crusade Celebration of Life Gala

Best Festival ~ Tied

Bay Fest
Maryland Renaissance Festival

Best Radio Station


Favorite Place to Pick up Bay Weekly

Anywhere and everywhere ... Eastport Deli ... Edgewater Liquors ... Zü Coffee ... Main Ingredient ... Pirate’s Cove ... Graul's ... Boomerangs ... Whole Foods ... Grump's ... Rips ... Dunkirk, Safeway ... Skipper's Pier ... C.D. Cafe ... Starbuck's ... Frying Pan ... Pit Boys ... Rod n Reel ... Thursday's ... Roland's ... Crofton Library

Goods & Services

Best Bay-Friendly Business

Leeward Market

Best New Business of 2009

Deale Hardware

Best Antique Store ~ Tied

Nice & Fleazy
Then & Again Antiques

Best Butcher

My Butcher & More

Best Coffee House

Zü Coffee

Best Consignment Shop

New to You

Best Fresh Produce

Whole Foods

Best Fresh Seafood

Annapolis Seafood

Best Ladies Boutique

Chez Elle Boutique

Best Golf Course

Twin Shields

Best Massage Therapist

Patty Allen, Alexander’s of Annapolis

Best Mechanic

Boone’s Auto

Best Place to Buy a Bauble ~ Tied

Maerten’s Fine Jewelery

W.R. Chance Jewelers

Best Public Restroom


Best Salon

Alexander’s of Annapolis

Best Toy Store

Toys R Us

Best Veterinarian

Dr. Grant Nisson, Muddy Creek Animal Hospital

Best Write-in Campaign

Skill’s Barber Shop

Best Consignment Shop

New to You

Food & Drink

Best Overall Restaurant ~ Tied

Osteria 177

Skipper’s Pier

Most Romantic Restaurant

Osteria 177

Most Scenic Dining

Severn Inn

Best Splurge Restaurant

Osteria 177

Best Restaurant for a Cheap Date

Chick & Ruth’s Delly

Best Bakery ~ Tied

Sweet Sue’s Bake Shop

Great Harvest

Best Bar

Brio Tuscan Grille

Best Dock Bar

Skipper’s Pier

Best Deli

My Butcher & More

Best Prix Fixe ~ Tied

Café Normandie

Annapolis Restaurant Week

Best Happy Hour

Brio Tuscan Grille

Best Sunday Brunch ~ Tied

Rod ’n’ Reel

Carroll’s Creek

Best Italian Restaurant

Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen

Best Mexican Restaurant

Mexican Cafe

Best Pizza

Rocco’s Pizzeria

Best Asian Restaurant


Best Crabhouse

Mike’s Bar & Crabhouse

Best Crab Cake

Edgewater Restaurant

Best Crab Soup ~ Tied

Café Normandie

Pirates Cove

Best Soft-Shells

Cantler’s Riverside Inn

Best Oysters

Skipper’s Pier

Best Steak

Lewnes Steakhouse

Best Barbecue

Adam’s the Place for Ribs

Best Burger

Five Guys

Best French Fries

Five Guys

Best Wings

Cluck-U Chicken

Best Vegetarian or Vegan Food


Best Ice Cream

Maggie Moo’s

Best New Restaurant of 2009

The Chop House

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