- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Scossa Restaurant & Lounge deserves the praise it has been receiving for its cosmopolitan style and Northern Italian cuisine. Scossa is in Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The small menu is joined each day by numerous specials, be they appetizers, main courses or desserts.

The restaurant opened in November 2005 and is proud of the menu created by executive chef and co-owner Giancarlo Tondin.

Co-owner Grant Friedman has been quoted as saying he wanted the restaurant to have a chic “New York comes to Talbot County” look and feel, and that it has. Mr. Friedman has more than 18 years’ experience in the luxury hospitality industry; Mr. Tondin has worked in many fine restaurants from Venice, Italy, to New York City.

Scossa is in a redesigned storefront space across the street from the Talbot County Courthouse. The dining room impresses as soon as you enter the building. To the left, a large granite-topped bar runs the length of the room; to the right is the dining area, with leather seating; in the back, a chic private lounge.

Weather permitting, diners also can be seated on an intimate front patio. Large glass doors can be opened to make the dining room and patio all one.

Waiters thoroughly explain the menu, and in no time, grilled slices of crusty Italian bread partnered with thin breadsticks arrive. Olive butter provides an extra burst of flavor. Bread lovers will ask for more.

A traditional starter of prosciutto with melon ($13.50) set the bar high for the rest of the meal. Paper-thin shaves of the ham contrasted perfectly with juicy-sweet honeydew melon.

Other tempting appetizers included a fish soup; tomato and buffalo mozzarella; carpaccio with arugula and Parmigiano; cauliflower and red beets with chive goat cheese; and sauteed scallops and mushroom salad.

Pasta and risotto plates offered were risotto with squid ink; maltagliati Bolognese; tortellini or ravioli of the day; veal cannelloni with zucchini; taglierini with fresh peas; gnocchi of the day, or pasta of the day.

Sirloin tagliata ($27.50) with green peppercorn sauce was cooked perfectly medium and plated with the vegetable of the day. The sauce had a very nice bite but wasn’t overpowering. The “vegetable medley” was one of the freshest and tastiest combinations of diced potatoes, carrots, snap peas, zucchini and herbs I have ever been served. The kitchen took something very simple and turned it into a unique creation.

The fresh fish of the day was a red snapper ($25.50). The preparation proved that a perfect sauce — in this case a light red sauce rich with olives — can enhance rather than hide the main ingredient. The fish was light and flaky, and its flavor stood out rather than being smothered. Roast rabbit campagnola ($32) is much more than a simple stew in the “country style,” which its name indicates. The rabbit was tender and succulent, and the mushrooms and pearl onions helped balance the flavors, all pulled together with a sauce that offered layers of flavor.

Other main plates are the veal loin scaloppine of the day; sauteed Atlantic salmon with artichoke sauce; bay shrimp with cherry tomatoes and capers; baked Mediterranean dorata with rosemary; free-range organic chicken of the day or calf’s liver alla Veneziana.

A small but impressive wine list is heavy on Italy’s finest reds and whites by the bottle or glass. There are labels from other regions of the world as well.

Tiramisu is, of course, on the dessert menu, along with chocolate souffle and chocolate torta, but we went for something a little different. The mille foglie ($9.50) is the Italian version of a napoleon: the flaky pastry is layered with rich pastry cream, strawberries and whipped cream to make a luscious but light end to the meal. Crepes alla crema ($10.50) also offered a creamy filling, with just enough sweetness to top off the evening.

Scossa is open every day except Monday. The restaurant is about 30 miles from the Bay Bridge. It is well worth the drive.

RESTAURANT: Scossa, 8 N. Washington St., Easton, Md.; 410/822-2202

HOURS: Dinner 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

PRICES: Soups and salads $8 to $10; appetizers $10.50 to $13.50; pastas $16.50 to $19.50; main courses $23.50 to $32; desserts $8.50 to $10.50

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards


ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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