Rallo’s: Comfortable and homey food and service

Written by on January 5, 2011 in Baltimore Bites, Featured - No comments

rallos foodEvery community should have a place like Rallo’s, a good, clean, unpretentious place that everyone knows and visits often. How many deals over meals have been negotiated there? The number has to be in the thousands.

Rallo’s is located at the corner of Lawrence St. and E. Fort Ave., across the street from Southside Marketplace. The clientele is pretty much tout le Locust Point—pols, priests, business people and residents all wielding forks and spilling local gossip.

The waitresses are all local folk. The bottom line is, if you need to know what’s going on in South Baltimore, go to Rallo’s and ask.

Stop and chat with Vincent Rallo. He’s the fellow behind the counter, and he can fill you in on all the happenings. Also, take a look at the historic photos—the Rallo family has been proudly feeding Locust Pointers since 1941, when Locust Point was decidedly unchic.

If you are in the mood for chic, go to the Wine Market down the road. If you are looking for homey comfort food for a reasonable price, head for Rallo’s. On a Sunday, order the gingerbread pancakes and go home happy. Order a milkshake any time and go home happy. And always check the specials menu—there are some surprising dishes there.

The usual suspects are on the menu—burgers, cutlets, meatloaf, all the diner favorites. But be certain to ask what the soup of the day is, and check to see if there is stew on the menu that day. Rallo’s soups and stews are marvelous.

Bonnie, our excellent waitress, cautioned us when we ordered the kidney stew—”Those are kidneys, not kidney beans, you know.” We thanked her and ordered a big bowl.

Kidneys are no picnic to prepare. You have to soak them, in milk or salted water, and peel the membrane away, and remove the little fat branches. But if they are well prepared, kidneys are very tasty, and Rallo’s makes a marvelous kidney stew.

Kidneys should taste a little earthy and a bit like liver, only milder. The texture is a little like liver. If you like organ meats you will love kidneys; if you don’t, the very idea will turn you off.

Rallo’s stew was hearty, with potatoes, carrots, onions, tomato—everything you would expect to find in a good beef stew—and a very good helping of kidneys. The stew and a slice from the bread basket made a very satisfying meal.

Several of the dishes on its regular menu date from Rallo’s early days—the salmon croquettes are like a tasting trip down Memory Lane. The salmon is tossed with onions and herbs, then molded into a torpedo shape, breaded and fried crisp. Yum. Paired with green beans and fries, it was a great lunch on a cold day. Rallo’s is also famous for its coddies—try a couple on a cracker. It’s a taste of Old Bawlamer.

We finished up by sharing a slice of moist, cinnamony Jewish apple cake.

Lunch and dessert came to $29.57, including tax but not the tip.

Rallo’s, 838 E. Fort Ave., is open weekdays 6 a.m.-7 p.m. and weekends 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

by Jacqueline Watts

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