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Baywatch, The ol' Chesapeake-awash in new flavor
By Shana Liebman, Endless Vacation Magazine - Spring 2008
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While Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay has long been a popular destination for summer homes, sportfishing and antiquing, the three main towns that make up the Eastern Shore (Easton, St. Michaels and Oxford) have recently attracted a new crop of talent: young entrepreneurs who want to infuse sophistication with tradition. One of them is chef Andrew Evans, who opened the acclaimed Inn at Easton in 2000. “I looked everywhere for a place to open a B&B,” he says. Then he found Easton—only 112 miles from Philadelphia and 70 from Washington, D.C. “It’s the perfect town. There’s no attitude—it’s more like Cheers and not at all like the Hamptons.” Barbara Helish moved here from New Jersey to open her restaurant, Bella Luna. “There’s just not the same level of stress down here,” she says, busily plating eight different entrées in her one-person kitchen. And Grant Friedman, who opened the successful Scossa restaurant here in 2005, agrees. Friedman previously managed the St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Manhattan but chose Easton because “it’s a charming, well-preserved town with great boutiques, culture, art and fine dining. And it’s near the water and the beach.” It’s this kind of enthusiasm, Evans says, that’s “shaking things up, for the better.”

Often called one of America’s best small towns, Easton has rows of Federal and Victorian buildings that make up its downtown core. Hill’s Drug Store, opened in 1928, still has an old-fashioned soda fountain where you can order grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sundaes. Nearby is the art deco Avalon Theatre, where Gary Cooper attended the world premiere of his film, His First Kiss. Although many Easton shops are closed on Sunday, there’s always the open-air Sunday antiques market (from April through November), with live music and about 40 vendors selling pottery, decoys, paintings, silver, jewelry, garden items and vintage clothing. Golfers can spend the day at Hog Neck’s 27 holes on the outskirts of town. The 255 gorgeous acres have a large putting green, a newly designed chippinggreen complex and a driving range with both grass and mat hitting areas. Last year, Restaurant Local opened at the Historic Tidewater Inn, part of the 1712 establishment’s big makeover. Its extensive menu relies on (yes) local ingredients—the “country amuse-bouche” is a small farm jar of pickled vegetables, a quirky prelude to entrees like crab cakes artfully splattered with herbed butter. The most popular seat here seems to be at the trendy blue bar, where you can watch the giant TV screens while sipping a spicy Bloody Mary martini. At Scossa, an elegant Northern Italian restaurant, chef Giancarlo Tondin— formerly of Cipriani’s in New York—and owner Grant Friedman get everything right: the perfect cocktails at the romantically lit bar; the well-informed staff; and memorable dishes that change daily—like creamy risotto, and sautéed scallops with shiitake salad. Food critic R.W. Apple wrote his last restaurant review about his fantastic meal at the Inn at Easton’s Australian-themed restaurant. You’d never expect to find this kind of food in rural Maryland: crispskinned rockfish with wild rice and spinach in a saffron-vanilla sauce; crab salad with papaya, fried shallots and chili-lime dressing. Although Evans recently closed the inn, he plans to reopen it this year with a new partner and is also launching a much-anticipated high-end Thai restaurant in Easton. Barbara Helish started Bella Luna as an Italian specialty market, selling cheese, Italian cold cuts and sandwiches. It quickly evolved into an 11-table restaurant and is frequented by both locals and the weekending elite—the likes of Dick Cheney and friends. While Bella Luna’s menu changes often, you can count on the cheese and antipasti plate: three tasty artisanal cheeses, salami rounds, Helish’s famous grilled artichokes and crisp French bread. “I make food the way I like it,” she says. Her produce comes from three local farms and, along with many area chefs, she religiously travels the five miles to St. Michaels to attend the Saturday farmers market.

Spouses enjoy visit to Scossa Restaurant
The Star Democrat – Friday, January 26, 2007
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Easton – About 50 Republican Congressional spouses arrived in Easton by bus from Cambridge Thursday to spend the afternoon enjoying champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a cooking demonstration at Scossa Restaurant and Lounge on Washington Street.

The bus parked in front of the Talbot County Court House, where spaced were reserved by yellow cones, to allow its passengers to disembark two by two and go into the restaurant across the street.

With the Republican U.S. House of Representatives members meeting at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge, some spouses had free time to enjoy Scossa’s fare and a cooking demonstration.

Owner/Chef Giancarlo Tondin prepared a three-course meal of northern Italian food in plain view, which was followed by a question-and-answer period The restaurant was closed to the public and secured by police.

VP Cheney, Rumsfeld among diners at restaurant in Easton
The Star Democrat - Thursday April 20, 2006
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EASTON – Scossa restaurant in Easton welcomed six high-profile customers Friday night when Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of Treasury Nicholas Brady and their wives dined in one of the restaurant’s lounges.
The three couples visited the restaurant on Good Friday, the beginning of the Easter weekend, and dined in the lounge with other customers. As they were leaving, Rumsfeld was said to have commented that Scossa is a “great restaurant.”

The Rumsfelds and the Cheneys own homes near St. Michaels. The Bradys’ home is near Trappe.

Scossa Restaurant aims to surprise
The Star Democrat - Thursday, November 6, 2005
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EASTON – In Italian, it means “to surprise,” and that’s what owner/manager Grant Friedman and owner/chef Giancarlo Tondin hope to do with their new restaurant, Scossa, along Washington Street in Easton.

The restaurant will feature authentic Northern Italian cuisine in an upscale, yet comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant recently celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Lt. Gov. Michael Steele on Oct. 28. Friedman and Tondin are hoping to open restaurant this month.
The doors in front of the building will swing open to create an open-air café with a view of the courthouse across the street. Scossa will also have a cocktail lounge, private event room for parties or meetings and a bar along with the dining room that seats approximately 70 people.
“There’s a New York chic-ness we are trying to create,” Friedman said. The two hope to “always have an element of surprise of how we present the restaurant to customers” he said.
Chef Tondin plans to make all of the pasta on premises with an old traditional pasta machine that was shipped from Italy. “You can’t get a more refined product, “he said. He also hopes to use as many local ingredients and produce as possible in his dishes.

Tondin was born in Trento, Italy, and attended the Levio Terme Culinary Institute. He began his career at Harry’s Bar restaurant in Venice, which is owned and operated by the Cipriani family. Tondin assisted with the opening of Harry’s first international location and with the expansion of eight additional Cipriani locations. He also commandeered all eight of the family’s New York restaurants.

Tondin consulted with Arrigo Cipriani in writing the Harry’s Bar Cookbook, which won the James Beard Foundation Award in 1992. He also has been a guest chef for the Foundation several times. Tondin and his wife, Talley, have two daughters and one son.

Friedman was born in Queens, NY., and his family relocated to Norway when he was a toddler. At age 14, the family returned to the United States to Easton. Friedman graduated from Easton High School in 1985 and continued his education at the University of Maryland. In 1989, he moved to New York City and began a career in the hospitality industry, working for five-star and five-diamond hotels. He was recruited for the opening of the St. Regis Hotel, and after 11 years there, worked for Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts.

Friedman later moved to the Muse Hotel as the manager and recently held an executive position at the Ritz-Carlton in Central Park. Friedman and his wife, Jini, have two daughters.
Some of Tondin’s specialties that will appear on Scossa’s menu include prosciutto di parma with rucola, beef carpaccio all Scossa, baby artichokes and avocado salad, traditional fish soup, spaghetti chitarra amatriciana, risotto with scallops and rucola, veal farfalle pizzaiola with rice pilaf, snapper with lemon and capers sauce and steak tagliata veneziana with peperonata. Scossa will also do catering and takeout and will have homemade desserts.

For more information, call 410-822-2202.

The Scossa Lounge - Friday May 12, 2006
A Live Jazz Performance by "It's About Time"
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