La Tessa Tana

Italian with a Twist

By Cathy Adams

     Ed Rogers, chef and owner of La Tessa Tana, has honed his culinary skills at several of Baltimore's better Italian restaurants. He describes the menu at his Biddle Street location as "typical Italian, but with a twist." His philosophy about the demanding pace of the restaurant business is "no matter how great you were yesterday, all [your customers] care about is how great you are today. It's what you do consistently, day in and day out, that makes the difference."

     La Tesso Tana features a diverse menu, with a good selection of pastas, including gnocchi (little potato dumplings) served with either Marinara or Pesto sauce and tortellini. Appetizers include artichokes hearts stuffed with crab meat in a white wine sauce with capers and lemon, Gorgonzola Garlic Bread (you can almost feel your arteries clogging up, but worth every bite) and lightly steamed Mussels Posillipo. Veal Picatta (thins slices of veal quickly sauteed in butter with a lemony butter sauce) and Shrimp Fra Diavlo with a spicy tomato based sauce are some of the most popular entrees.

     La Tessa Tana offers specials that change frequently. "People like it here because they know we don't insist on being 100% Italian," said Rogers. Specials also let Rogers' staff have fun and develop professionally. Recently they prepared a New York Strip Steak with Black Bean Sauce and Oriental Noodles, "and that's as far away from Italian as you can get." Other specials might include Salmon Nicholas, filet of salmon broiled with a horseradish crust and a lime butter sauce, Monkfish (often called "poor man's lobster") Lemone, medallions of sauteed monkfish with a lemon butter sauce and Lasagna Bolognese (made with ground beef and a zesty tomato sauce).

     La Tessa Tana's wine list is moderately priced ($16-$40) with a good representation of American and Italian wines. A Ruffino Riserva Ducale ($53) is the most expensive bottle on the list. Deutz Champagne, one of the most under-appreciated French champagnes, is offered at $50.

     La Tessa Tana is underneath the Abacrombie Badger Bed and Breakfast, across from the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The dining rooms, a tiled "sunroom" next to the bar and cozy banquetted main room, hold 75. Rogers said they could fit more tables in, but would rather have his customers comfortable.

La Tessa Tana's Gorgonzola Garlic Bread

(Garlic bread drizzled with Gorgonzola cream sauce)

serves 8 as a appetizer



  1. Mix softened butter with 2 tablespoons chopped garlic. Butter slices of Italian bread
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in sauce pan, add diced vegetables and garlic and sweat (gently saute over medium heat) for a few minutes. Add flour and stir. Add heavy cream and simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Strain sauce, discarding solids. (Sauce can be made ahead of time, but do not add cheese until ready to serve). Add gorgonzola and simmer a few minutes, then add Parmesan.
  3. Bake or broil garlic bread until lightly browned. (La Tessa Tana bakes the garlic bread, then put it on the grill until lightly browned). Place bread on serving dish and drizzle with the gorgonzola sauce.

La Tesso Tana
58 West Biddle Street
Baltimore, MD
(410) 837-3630
Appetizers: $5-7.00
Entrees: $15-17.00

            Lunch 11:30-2:30 Tuesday-Friday
            Dinner 5 pm Tuesday-Sunday
             Closed Mondays

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