C is for Cinghiale

During the past few days, winter has been in its death throes, the last few gasps before spring is born. In these trying times, Cinghiale was a nice place to be. It began from the moment when the complimentary valet whisked my car away from the corner of Lancaster and Exeter as I sprinted through the cold air into the velvety embrace of the enoteca (an Italian word for wine bar, or something like that).

While Cinghale in the less formal sister of Very Important Restaurant Charleston, it is still quite elegant. The decor has much marble and mirrors and many metal table tops, but remains cozy and inviting. Guests facing the bar can contemplate the antique mirrors and dark shelves filled with bottles of vino; those facing the windows can take in the sight of the sun slipping down past the Inner Harbor skyline through the picture windows. Both options are lovely, as are many of the wines. Impecunious me and my friends visited on a Tuesday night, when all of Cinghiale’s bottles are half prince. Let me repeat: HALF PRICE. This meant we could drink twice as much, or according to one party’s calculations pay half as much, but that would have been far less fun.

I can’t really comment on the food — we ordered only¬† a Lilliputian cheese plate. Our very nice and informative waiter had a slight tendency to hover. It was as if he’d never seen a gaggle of women who wanted to yak over much wine and little food before.¬† The sommelier, a lovely young woman, found a nicer balance between attention and smothering. She also steered us towards a fine Bolgheri that was a smidge out of our price range but well worth it.

Both the space and the patrons were well-heeled, and more racially diverse than many spots I’ve seen around Baltimore. I would certainly return for Cinghiale, to curl up in one of the posh banquettes or at the elegant bar, and give the food a more thorough examination. Don’t let the oddly terrifying Web site with weird superhero waiters who shoot pasta out of the palms of their hands and wear trendy sneakers deter you. Cinghiale added an unexpected touch of warmth to my Tuesday evening.


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