The new La Barrita bistro in Butchers Hill opened earlier this year, but according to owner Sebastian Cardona, many patrons from the neighborhood have already become repeat customers.
“I found this beautiful little corner place, and people seem to be very happy we are here,” Cardona says with a laugh. “I’m just a normal guy who works a lot and enjoys what I am doing. For me to be happy, it’s not winning the lottery. It’s you leaving the restaurant saying, ‘Sebastian, thank you, we are coming back.’”
Cardona moved to the United States in 2000, got into the restaurant business and spent years working in Miami and New York. He waited tables and tended bar before opening his last restaurant — also named La Barrita — in Brooklyn, which he closed in 2016.
He moved to Baltimore a year later after his girlfriend accepted a new job here. It took some time, but he eventually found the right space to reimagine La Barrita with a new menu for a new city. His inspiration? Cardona “grew up inside a kitchen” in Mar del Plata, Argentina while living on his grandmother’s farm, he says, and he used that to influence his new place.
“My grandmother, she was a chef. My family used to tell me they couldn’t take me out of the kitchen when I was with her,” Cardona says. “Our menu, it’s 100 percent family recipes. There was one dish that I created with my grandmother and that was polenta della bosca, a homemade polenta with wild mushroom cream sauce. It’s really good and one of the people’s favorite appetizers here.”
The menu also features seven or eight different cuts of beef, including two distinct beef platters, several sides of vegetables and some gourmet desserts and libations. There are also more than a half-dozen plates of pasta that are “made every day in house” along with their fillings and toppings, Cardona says.
“We have worked very hard from the beginning to make our own bread and pasta, like ravioli, gnocchi, empanadas and lasagna. Everything that we sell in here is made in here,” he says.
La Barrita, 32 N. Chester St.