Our good friends Jim and Dean McDonald came down to the Bay for a visit. You remember Dean from here. She was the pastor at Chevy Chase Presbyterian, and I remember her first sermon, the one just before the vote on whether to hire her. I don’t remember what she said, but I do remember that there was a guy sitting a few rows ahead of us and that Nancy turned to me and said, “I dated him in college.” That was Jim. I milked that for all it was worth, which was not much, but we became friends and they have a daughter, Ruth, who’s Liza’s age, who were friends and very excited over the dating business. Ruth said to Liza, “We could have been sisters!” That showed a reassuring naiveté.
Anyway, Nancy and I had been to La Vela for dinner with Liza and Michael and we were bowled over. The consensus was that La Vela takes the crown as the Best Restaurant in Solomons. La Vela also serves lunch, and I was eager to try the lunch menu. Off we went. We started by sharing the Shrimp Gondola ($13).
I expect we’ll start by sharing the Shrimp Gondola on every visit. Fresh shrimp, garlic, butter, bread — is there more to life?
I also had some cream of crab soup, which I loved as much as the Corn and Crab Soup at Pier 450 and the Corn and Crab Chowder at The Avenue.
Sensational. This was a great version, notable for the crabmeat, the large lumps of crabmeat. Pictured above is one of many lumps of crab in the soup. What a deal at $10!
Dean chose the Salmon Ferris ($24), salmon with salmoriglio sauce, a very, very traditional sauce (Roman times) made with lemon, olive oil, and herbs.
As you see, it came with broccolini and potatoes. Dean seemed very pleased.
Nancy ordered the Penne Santa Lucia, pasta with all sorts of stuff, wild mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant,
roasted red peppers, garlic-lemon-butter sauce, and ricotta. Whew! That’s a lot for $13.
Nancy was very enthusiastic about the flavor. She did, however, wish that the mixture had clung to the pasta a bit more. Overall, though, it was a treat.
Jim went with the Fettuccine Zafferano, which Michael had enjoyed on our first visit, with the New Orleans-based caveat that it could have bean creamier.
Jim’s reaction was caveat-free. You can see the pros — fresh, beautifully cooked shrimp, crabmeat, and scallops, in a saffron sauce over pasta. The cons remain elusive.
I followed my soup with a sandwich, the Italiano. Always thinking ahead, I was particularly interested in a sandwich as a possible future carry-out.
The sandwich came on very good bread, maybe the best in Calvert County, and it had generous-but-reasonable amounts of meat — ham, salami, and hot coppa. It also had banana peppers and a balsamic mayonnaise spread that was very tasty. You’ll really like it. I liked it, even though I prefer bolder flavors than the rest of humanity. Maybe substitute a little pepperoni for the coppa and some mortadella for the ham, and hot rather than banana peppers — in a word, Mangialardo’s. Still, it’s easily … easily the best Italian sandwich I’ve had in the area, and I’ll have to look high and low for a better one. That was really good bread.
As you can tell, I’m in a picky mood. My quibbles — and they are quibbles — are constructive criticism. As I said up front, La Vela is the best restaurant in Solomons, hands down. I’ll be back there again and again. You should go, and I hope to see you there.
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4 thoughts on “Lunch at La Vela, Solomons, Calvert County, Maryland”
The seafood all looks great. While I’m sure it doesn’t compare to this, they sell a pretty good refrigerated cream of crab at the store where we do our weekly grocery shopping and I sometimes grab it.
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What’s the brand?
It’s the store brand. Giant.
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