Despite the myriad challenges of the pandemic era, there’s a whole lot of innovation and creativity going on in the Baltimore area’s restaurant community.

For instance, Nancy Longo, executive chef and owner of Pierpoint Restaurant in Fells Point, has created a new and enticing concept. You can now order ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat weekend meal boxes at Pierpoint that are available Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m., with pickups available Thursdays through Sundays.

The boxes typically contain eight or nine culinary items and always include Pierpoint’s famous smoked or traditional crab cakes. On average, the boxes feed two to four people for about three or four days. You just may want to try Grandma Renza’s focaccia or the corn pound cake. (Call Pierpoint in advance at 410-675-2080 or visit pierpointrestaurant.com)

‘Dark in the City, Night is a Wire’

Duran Duran, anyone?

Hungry Like the Wolfe bread pudding, salad
(Left): Hungry Like the Wolfe coffee and doughnuts bread pudding. (Right): Karma farms tomato and bread salad. (Provided photos).

A new pop-up outdoor dining and carryout concept called Hungry Like the Wolfe recently opened at the Red Star, at 906 S. Wolfe St. in Fells Point. It showcases a new spin on classic American tavern and classic Maryland cuisine created by chefs Adam Scanlon and Cyrus Keefer, and they say it might become a permanent fixture if the test market brand takes off.

Keefer, previously a chef at the Fork & Wrench and the Alexander Brown Restaurant (which closed in May), and Scanlon, Red Star’s executive chef, offer to-go and outdoor dining options. (Visit redstarfellspoint.com)

In a somewhat similar vein, to keep itself afloat during the pandemic, Hampden’s Bluebird Cocktail Room & Pub has reopened as a pop-up concept. It’s called Until Conditions Improve (apropos name, right?!).

The menu features gourmet burgers and dogs, snacks and sides (fried pickles anyone?), not to mention boozy milkshakes. (FYI, they have non-boozy shakes, too.) Order online or outside the restaurant for takeout or eat at their al fresco dining area. (Visit thebluebirdbaltimore.com)

LaScala
La Scala in Little Italy has expanded its garden to accommodate Italian food lovers during the pandemic. (Provided photo).

So how does a creative bistro owner deal with a pandemic when they own a cozy, 13-seat restaurant in Little Italy? If you’re Nino Germano, executive chef and owner of La Scala, you expand your il Giardino (the garden), the outdoor space where you can enjoy traditional, regional Italian cuisine.

Also, there’s Mercato La Scala, an online marketplace that includes a butcher shop, produce, pasta and sauces, desserts (tiramisu!), ready-to-eat meals, cheese, wine and olive oil. FYI, there’s on-street parking, a garage just behind the restaurant, and they have free delivery (within a 20-mile radius) for orders over $100.

BTW, Chef Nino has created a plan called “Feed Baltimore.” For every 2 pounds of pasta sold, he donates 1 pound with sauce to Our Daily Bread to help feed those in need.

Bravo, bravo! (Visit lascaladining.com)

Parisian Pleasures

Now open in the Pikesville Shopping Center is the much-anticipated Croustille Café, a French kosher bakery specializing in freshly baked bread and pastries prepared daily on the premises. The café, which is owned by Paris native Moshe Mimoun, operates under the kashrut certification of the Baltimore-based Star-K supervisory group.

The café section of the space (formerly a Rite Aid) serves breakfast and lunch, with a focus on bagels (which are also made in-house) with toppings, overstuffed sandwiches, custom-made salads and store-made ice cream. (For information, call 410-559-6940.)

All Aboard!

Kim and D’Alan Baugh are the new owners of Sykesville Station, formerly the Baldwin’s Station restaurant. This historic landmark on Sykesville’s Main Street offers contemporary, Southern- inspired cuisine featuring local products.

The Baughs strongly believe that great food and great music are what bring people together. They say their menu — designed by executive chef Steven Colegrove (formerly of Encantada and Café Azafran) — will bring a little bit of Nashville to Sykesville.

In keeping with the bistro’s railroad theme, Sykesville Station’s food options are listed as Engine Starters, Boxcar Sandwiches and Main Line Dinners. The most popular dishes are the Nashville Hot Chicken (local, crispy chicken with a cayenne glaze), crispy Brussels sprouts (with garlic aioli and a cider glaze) and the Station Smoked Brisket.

Call ahead for curbside pickup, dine inside the station or outdoors on “The Platform” overlooking the mighty Patapsco River and the steel rails of the B&O. And look for a lineup of live country music bands. (Visit sykesvillestation.com)

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.