Tony Foreman, CEO and President/Wine Director, Foreman Wolf
If you know fine dining in Baltimore, then you know Tony Foreman.
Foreman, co-owner of some of Charm City’s most elegant restaurants and proprietor of two boutique wine shops, has made Baltimore a destination for sophisticated and discriminating foodies.
In 1995, the Baltimore native teamed up with Chef Cindy Wolf to open their first restaurant, Savannah in Fells Point. Two years later, they moved Savannah to Harbor East and opened under a new name, Charleston. The restaurant, specializing in the cuisine of Wolf’s native South Carolina, has won numerous awards and remains one of Baltimore’s premier high-end dining spots.
“We opened thinking it would be like Savannah and we’d purely be doing what we wanted to do and sharing it,” says Foreman. “The rest developed over time. We’ve grown up with the city’s expectations.”
Foreman and Wolf followed up with Petit Louis Bistro in Roland Park in 2002. “The restaurant paid homage to a restaurant in France called Chez L’Ami Louis, a 99-year-old restaurant,” says Foreman. “The menu [at Chez L’Ami Louis] has been the same the entire time. They have a convivial staff, a very attractive, falling-down-around-you space, and a super-duper wine cellar.”
Soon after, Foreman ventured into the retail wine business with Bin 604 wine sellers. “Guests would always ask, ‘Where can I find this wine?’” says Foreman. “I thought, ‘I should open a wine shop and help these people.’”
Bin 604 was designated Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Wine Shop in the Country” in 2002. Foreman opened a sister wine shop, Bin 201, in Annapolis in 2009.
In the years that followed, Foreman co-founded such celebrated restaurants as Pazo, Cinghiale, Johnny’s and Bar Vasquez, located in Pazo’s former home.
Foreman attributes his expertise as a sommelier, or wine steward, to “focused tasting. I’ve been tasting wine for about 30 years, and I taste about 8,000-10,000 wines a year.” Of the 1,300 wines in Charleston’s cellar, he says he has visited the wineries of every label carried by the bistro. “Tasting is a product of enjoyment, and about a place. It’s being in the moment,” he says.
To those considering a career in the restaurant industry, Foreman advises, “Always work from the heart, and the quicker you find out what you’re not good at and find smarter people to handle it, the better.”