Travel News

Restaurant Spotlight―Chazz: A Bronx Original

Locations in this article:  Baltimore, MD New York City, NY Rome, Italy

Baltimore might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of celebrity restaurants, but Donna M. Owens heads to Chazz Palminteri’s new spot to see why this native New Yorker chose Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood for his Chazz: A Bronx Original restaurant.

On a crisp, yet sunny afternoon, Chazz Palminteri relaxes in a leather booth at the Baltimore restaurant that bears his name.

Along with his teenage son, he’s spent the day exploring the upscale Harbor East neighborhood where “Chazz: A Bronx Original” is located. The new restaurant sits on a busy street, a few blocks away from the city’s famed Inner Harbor.

Palminteri, 59, is a native New Yorker best-known for roles in such films as “A Bronx Tale,” “The Usual Suspects,” and “Bullets Over Broadway.” The latter earned him an Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actor.”

Now the writer, director and all-around thespian has added restaurateur to his plate. Developed with partners Sergio Vitale and Alessandro Vitale (who co-own Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano in Baltimore’s Little Italy community), the restaurant pays homage to Palminteri’s Bronx Italian roots. In fact, the décor includes scenes from Palminteri’s “A Bronx Tale,” including an elevated train platform.

Reporter Donna M. Owens sat down with the actor to talk about his new restaurant, where he likes to go when traveling, and some of his favorite dishes.

Donna M. Owens: Tell me your impetus for opening a restaurant?

Chazz Palminteri: I’ve always wanted to open up a restaurant, it’s one of those things all Italians want to do. A very dear friend of mine, Robert De Niro, owns like 30 restaurants. And I said, `If he can own 30, maybe I can start off with one.’ But never really found the right people to open it with. As the years went on, sometimes I met [business] people I’d like, but maybe I didn’t like their food. Sometimes I’d like the food, but I didn’t like the people. Sometimes I’d like the people and the food but we didn’t have the right investor. So it was always something. But then I met [current partners] Alessandro and Sergio and Aldo……

DO: How did you meet?

CP: I was doing a show at Baltimore’s Hippodrome theatre. I was looking for a good Italian restaurant. I went into Aldo’s and I loved it. I went back every night, and we became friends. Over the years we talked about opening a place together. And here it is.