Cafe Manet

By Cathy Adams

     Cafe Manet, on Charles Street in Federal Hill, is a small informal neighborhood place. You can sit and enjoy a meal while listening to tango music or take dinner home. You can have a bottle of wine for a modest price or take a bottle home for an even more modest price.

     When Mario Grynberg opened Cafe Manet 12 years he sold cheeses, fancy olive oils, as well as food to take out, but over the years he has decided to concentrate on a small menu that changes frequently. "My food is honest, simple food. No gimmicks," he said.

     Grynberg, born in Italy and raised in Argentina, makes food that reflects both countries. Both countries have the philosophy that food is to be enjoyed and "without red wine, it's not a meal."

     He says he began cooking because "I couldn't have the dishes I grew up with. I would listen to tango music and cook. I wanted to have the feeling of being back where you were little and food is the connection." He quoted George Bernard Shaw, "There is only one true love and that is the love for food."

     "When I want to remember my mother I make capellitti (small folded ravioli) with Bolognese Sauce," he explained that since he was the youngest in the family he was very good at folding them because "you need little fingers."

     The day's menu is listed on the board in the rear of the restaurant, next to the refrigerated case, where the items are displayed. Cafe Manet features several homemade pastas, meat, chicken, seafood entrees and salads.

     The dough for the ravioli is rolled by hand, using a rolling pin, laid over square ravioli molds, filled and cut. Popular varieties are goat cheese, chicken and artichokes. Another popular specialty is the flaky beef or chicken empanadas, which are Spanish style turnovers.

     Among the entrees, seafood or chicken paella, lamb stew a l'orange, eggplant parmigiana and cannelloni are favorites with the customers.

     Grynberg said he remembers, as a child, his father would occasionally treat him to a sample of red wine with dinner, liberally diluted with soda water from the siphon bottle that sat on the table. He pointed out that in Europe and South America, wine is not just for special occasions.The wines they drink every day are pretty good and relatively inexpensive. So despite the restaurant's small size, it has a good selection of wines, especially Grynberg's favorite South American reds, with the most expensive bottle at $14.95 (there is a $3 corkage fee if you drink the bottle there). In addition to the hearty South American Cabernets and Chardonnays, there are French Cotes du Rhone, a Muscadet and Italian Pinot Grigio.

     Cafe Manet doesn't carry a large selection of desserts. Grynberg said, "Too many people are trying to stay thin," but will occasionally have Manet's creme caramel, bread pudding or cake.

Cafe Manet's Beef Scaloppini alla Neapolitan

     This is one of Mario's favorite recipes. "It's what I have when I come home and I want something fast and good." Serve with pasta and salad.

Serves two.



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Pound bottom round between sheets of plastic wrap to a uniform thickness.
  3. Beat egg with garlic, 1 tablespoon oregano, and salt and pepper.
  4. Dip beef in egg wash, then in bread crumbs, shake off excess.
  5. Heat olive oil in saute pan large enough to hold meat without crowding. Brown beef on both sides.
  6. Remove beef from pan and place on sheet pan. Cover with sliced plum tomatoes, grated mozzarella, 1 tablespoon fresh oregano and green olives. Heat in oven until cheese is melted.

Cafe Manet
1020 South Charles Street
Baltimore, MD
(410) 837-7006

Hours: Monday-Friday 1:30-3:30 - 5:30-9:30
Saturday 11:30-3:30 - 5:30-10:30
Closed on Sunday

     Appetizers and Salads: $1.95-4.95
Entrees: $4.50-8.95
Wines: $7.95-14.95

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