A favorite go-to spot among locals and tourists for more than three decades, Little Italy’s Ciao Bella has rebranded and is now Lew Gambino’s

Siblings Tony and Lisa Gambino have partnered with Deb Poquette and Ray Lewis — yes, THAT Ray Lewis — to combine all of their talents and resources for this refreshed culinary venture. 

Lew Gambino’s — the name being a nod to both the original owners and Lewis, a loyal customer and friend — offers authentic northern and southern Italian cuisine with a focus on more locally grown food, salads, veggies and fish, plant-based menu options and house-crafted pasta. 

The renovated interior spotlights a glass-and-walnut, floor-to-ceiling wine locker based on Lewis’ own design that will showcase a newly crafted wine list. And if you’re looking for a great game-day experience, this is the place to go! (therealciaobella.com/)

Pure Raw Juice recently opened a third location in The Rotunda in Hampden, offering healthy, fast and fresh cold-pressed juice blends, smoothies and bowls. Other locations include Towson and Federal Hill, with another opening soon in Bel Air. (purerawjuice.com)

At Blackwall Barn & Lodge, you’ll find Chesapeake rockfish with jumbo lump crab, leek and shallot cream sauce, Brussels prouts and seasonal risotto. (Provided photo)

Award-winning chef Neal Langermann (one of my all-time favorites) is now the executive chef at the Blackwall Barn & Lodge in Gambrills. This very cool, unique property offers a family-style restaurant, private party rooms and special event spaces. The property evokes a sense of comfort — think lots of natural wood, Mason jars, farm flowers and wine crates — while offering farm-fresh, family-style (not plated) menu options. 

Depending on the season, selections may include various farmhouse soups from scratch, shrimp and grits, beef short ribs and Eastern Shore crabcakes, as well as vegan and gluten-free options. And for dessert, cobblers and puddings and Smith Island Cake, oh my! (barnandlodge.com)

This is the time to check out a new place or visit an old favorite hot spot. My picks? Birroteca in Hampden has excellent pizza and a comfy outdoor space; Koko’s Pub has to-die-for crabcakes; LB Skybar at the Lord Baltimore Hotel has an amazing view of the city and an eclectic menu, and Linwoods is always a top-notch dining experience.

The Original Pancake House recently opened in the Can Company in Canton where Langermann’s used to be. The menu includes waffles, vegetarian omelets, corned beef hash, crepes and pancakes. 

Apple pancake smothered in cinnamon sugar, anyone?(ophbaltimore.com/menu)

Randi Rom is president of RJ Rom & Associates. She is a freelance columnist and writer who represents some of the region’s top restaurants and food-related events. Contact her at randirom@comcast.net.

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