You don’t go to Squire’s for elegance, or for health food. You go for homemade pasta slathered in their fantastic red sauce; attentive service; and prices that won’t bend your credit card.
The red sauce, smooth and tangy-tomatoey-sweet, has that soft texture that comes from long simmering. Remember your nonna’s sauce simmering on the back of the stove from Saturday night to Sunday dinner? Squire’s sauce is like that.
The restaurant, at 6723 Holabird Avenue just past Dundalk Avenue, has been in business since 1952, when Joe and Mary Romiti bought Squire’s Bar from Fred and Lorraine Squire. Mary started cooking Italian dinners for the customers in the Romiti’s apartment above the bar.
Squire’s has never strayed far from that concept. It’s an old-fashioned red sauce restaurant serving homey, red sauce dishes.
It’s also a family restaurant serving Baltimore standards like crab cakes, fried seafood platters, steaks and chops.
And it’s a bar with a full menu of bar snacks: jalapeño poppers, Buffalo wings, chicken tenders, onion rings and crab dip.
It is one of the few Old Baltimore restaurants left, and it is a treasure. To enjoy dinner at an Old Baltimore restaurant you pretty much have to go to an ethnic neighborhood like Greektown or Little Italy—and then there is Squire’s, perched at the edge of the suburbs with its very own large parking lot.
We popped into Squire’s on a Monday evening, and the dining room was about three-quarters full—that’s a pretty good indicator of restaurant success.
We started off with a couple of slices from a nine-inch tomato and cheese pizza ($6.95). Squire’s is famous for its pizza, which is baked in a very hot oven. The crust is thin, crisp, and layered with that great red sauce and plenty of hot, deliciously stringy mozzarella cheese.
We had plenty of pizza to take home, and so here is a handy hint: When reheating leftover pizza, don’t microwave it. Nuking makes the crust rubbery. Heat a dry skillet and warm the pizza in that for a couple of minutes. Your crust will be crisp, your cheese melty. The absolute best skillet for this purpose is cast iron, but you can use any kind, even a non-stick skillet, as long as you watch it carefully.
We moved along to entrees. Mary Helen had Squire’s famous eggplant parmigiana ($10.95), six crosswise slices of eggplant breaded and crisply fried, topped with cheese and broiled, and finally topped generously with that wonderful red sauce.
The dish came with two sides, and she ordered a nice garden salad topped with blue cheese dressing, and an order of crisp breaded onion rings.
Our excellent waitress brought ketchup with the onion rings, but with all that marinara sauce around for dipping, we didn’t need it.
I tried the homemade spinach fettucini with—yes, more of the red sauce ($8.95). The pasta was perfectly cooked and very enjoyable.
And here’s another thing that makes Squire’s an Old Baltimore restaurant: the waitress asked if I wanted my chianti ($4.50) “room or chilled.” I chose room-temperature.
For desssert there was a choice of cheesecake, ice cream or cannoli, but we were enjoying a pleasant pasta high and passed on dessert.
The check came to $39.17 including tax but not the tip or wine. We had plenty of pizza and parm for lunch the next day—another indicator of an Old Baltimore restaurant.
Squire’s also offers a full menu of sandwiches and a kids’ menu; carryout and delivery; and does a lot of catering both in-house and on site.
Squire’s, at 6723 Holabird Ave., is open daily for lunch and dinner. Call 410-288-0081 for carryout and info.
by Jacqueline Watts