After two years, the original owners of Zella's Pizzeria on Hollins Street are coming back.
Julie Ernst and Cem Ari opened Zella's in 2007. It found a loyal following and helped to anchor the struggling Hollins Market neighborhood. They sold the business in 2010, but it floundered without them and eventually closed.
Word had been circulating about the return for months, and in late February, Ari confirmed that he had signed a lease for the building at 1145 Hollins St. and will reopen the restaurant within the next two months. He said Toss will remain open.
The neighborhood continues to take steps forward and back. The popular Washington-based Carnivore BBQ has opened inside the market, but the owners of a Parkville carryout named Herb & Soul will not be going ahead with their plans to take over the old Mencken's Cultured Pearl space.
A county chef Fresh Thoughts, the National Aquarium's sustainable seafood dining series, continues on March 19. The guest chef this time is the Oregon Grille's Matthew Siegmund.
This is the fifth year for the dinner series, which focuses on sustainable seafood of the Mid-Atlantic region. Each dinner features a cocktail reception of regional wines and cooking demonstration led by the guest chef, followed by a four-course menu created solely for the event. The event concludes with a stroll through the aquarium.
A native Marylander, Siegmund has been with the Oregon Grille since its 1997 opening, rising through the ranks from line chef. He was named the restaurant's executive chef in 2009. Siegmund's Fresh Thoughts menu includes cornflake-crusted rainbow trout, baked Choptank oysters on the half shell and, for the main course, cinnamon-butter poached rockfish with roasted acorn squash.
Previous guest chefs have included the usual gang of city-based names who champion the use of seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Think John Shields (Gertrude's), Galen Sampson (Dogwood) and Chad Wells (now of the Rockfish). But there has not been much representation from the surrounding counties, so it's good to see a stalwart institution like the Oregon Grille included in the event.
Fresh Thoughts with Matthew Siegmund will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at the National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt Street. Tickets are $79. Call 410-576-3869 or go to aqua.org.
Piedmont on Lancaster If you missed the Winter Wine Celebration that wrapped up Sunday, there's a swell-sounding wine event coming up soon. On March 14 at Cinghiale, fourth-generation winemaker Enzo Brezza will share selections from his family's vineyard at a Brezza Wine Dinner.
The menu from Cinghiale executive chef Julian Marucci will be paired with wines from the Brezza estate, which lies close to the heart of Barolo in Italy's Piedmont region. The robust menu includes a first course of celery root sformato — think souffle, but denser — with bone marrow, a first course of agnolotti with mushrooms and foie gras, and a second course of lamb tongue and cheek with turnips, fennel and cippolini onions.
The Brezza Wine Dinner is at 7 p.m. March 14 at Cinghiale, 822 Lancaster St. The cost is $129. Call 410-547-8282 or go to cgeno.com
So long, Max Max's Empanadas (313 S. High St., 410-547-7900, maxempanadas.com) will close March 22. Max Gonzalez opened his Argentine cafe and coffee shop in early 2010 in a Little Italy storefront. The specialty was — you guessed it — empanadas, for which Gonzalez had built up a following at area farmers' markets.
In a message posted on Facebook on Feb. 28, Gonzalez said that he will be producing the empanadas for farmers' markets, grocery stores and cafes at a production facility.
Happy Fifth Ra Sushi (1390 Lancaster St., 410-522-3200, rasushi.com) celebrates its fifth anniversary in Harbor East on March 14. The upbeat restaurant, a favorite with the local crowd, will be offering $5 food and drink specials, and 50 percent of the sales of food specials will be donated to the Living Classrooms Foundation.