by Michael Vyskocil, photography by Bill Ryan
As summer turns to fall, chefs in kitchens across Carroll County are making the seasonal shift a tasty one for their guests. In this issue of Carroll Magazine, we profile three Carroll County establishments serving up dishes highlighting a seafood delight.
Basta Pasta: Customizing Crab Cakes
Casual Italian dishes are at the heart of Basta Pasta’s cooking. Beyond the noodles and sauce, however, you’ll find a Maryland seafood staple praised by thousands of the Eldersburg restaurant’s fans — crab cakes.
Owner Zachary Tripp said Basta Pasta’s renowned crab cakes make up 30 percent of the restaurant’s sales. They’re so popular, in fact, that Basta Pasta also ships the crab cakes direct to homes. The recipe originated with Basta Pasta’s founder and owner Yiannis “Yianni” Livaditis and his uncle, who opened the first Basta Pasta in Fallston in 2004. Never satisfied with the status quo, Livaditis worked continually to perfect Basta Pasta’s signature crab cake recipe over the years.
The purists who insist that a Maryland-style crab cake must have as little binder as possible won’t be disappointed by Basta Pasta’s crab cake creations. “For every 30 pounds of crabmeat, we have only about 2 pounds of binder,” Tripp said. The 8-ounce crab cakes feature jumbo lumps of crabmeat throughout.
While the exact recipe itself is a closely guarded Basta Pasta secret, Tripp said the binding mixture — which originally contained white breadcrumbs, but now features finely ground cracker crumbs — gets its flavor from a combo of white pepper, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, eggs and mayonnaise. Depending on customer preferences, the crab cakes are either broiled or pan-sauteed.
If special dietary concerns have kept you from sampling one, Tripp said that Basta Pasta can prepare specialty crab cakes that are gluten-free, soy-free or dairy-free. “Because we’re not a chain restaurant, we can modify to our guests’ requests,” he said.
As a family-owned business, Basta Pasta is committed to supporting the Carroll County community it serves. “Yianni and I are continually reinvesting in the business,” Tripp added.
5957 Exchange Dr., Eldersburg, MD 21784 | 443-920-3477 | www.bastapastamd.com
antrim 1844 smokehouse restaurant:
An Exceptional Crab Cake
Marylanders know an exceptional crab cake when they taste one. At the Antrim 1844 Smokehouse Restaurant in Taneytown, crab cakes earn international guest accolades.
Executive chef Ilhan Erkek is the creator of these acclaimed seafood delicacies. Bringing more than 15 years of culinary experience to the Antrim, he creates culinary masterpieces based on seasonal ingredients. His touches of innovation surprise and delight guests who come from across the United States and all corners of the globe.
Chef Erkek’s crab cakes reflect his approach to cooking that emphasizes fresh, seasonal cuisine with exquisite ingredients. Each crab cake features select, premium-quality, jumbo lump crabmeat held together with a fine gluten-free breadcrumb binding mixture that contains jewel-toned colors of sautéed onions, red pepper and celery. The crabmeat and vegetables get gently incorporated into a blend of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice, chives and parsley. They’re shaped and whisked into the oven, emerging minutes later as golden, luscious crab cakes.
To accompany his specialty crab cakes, Chef Erkek selects seasonal vegetables for his sides. These may appear in the form of a root vegetable slaw served with a mustard sauce, for example.
“I’ve heard people say that our crab cakes are like nothing they’ve ever tasted before,” he said. Even guests of a Swedish wedding held at the Antrim complimented Chef Erkek’s interpretation of a Maryland classic.
Whether you fancy yourself a novice epicurean or a gourmand, you’ll appreciate the fact that the Antrim 1844 Smokehouse Restaurant’s menu changes daily to reflect the ever-changing nature of seasonal ingredients. “It’s very unique in what we do here,” Chef Erkek said. “Not too many places can change menus as quickly as we can, but you can be assured that everything we serve is made in-house and is the freshest it can be.”
30 Trevanion Road, Taneytown, MD 21787 | 410-756-6812 | www.antrim1844.com
the mt. airy tavern: Pasta with a Maryland Flair
Since opening its doors in 2009, The Mt. Airy Tavern has been serving scratch-made country comfort foods that have delighted diners from Carroll County and beyond. The kitchen team under chef de cuisine Aaron Cataldo — along with the leadership of executive chef and owner James DiChiara — takes pride in taking traditional American dishes and putting creative spins on them. The shrimp and crab Chesapeake pasta is one example of this culinary creativity.
“It’s one of our entrees we’ve been featuring for nine years now. It’s got a lot of Maryland flair to it,” Cataldo said. The dish combines sauteed shrimp and jumbo lump crabmeat with accents of tomatoes, garlic, spinach and Old Bay seasoning. These ingredients get tossed in a white wine and garlic cream sauce and served over linguine.
Cataldo said that the dish, one of his creations, started as a weekend-only special in 2010. It was so well-received by guests that it soon earned its spot on the daily menu.
“We change our regular menu twice a year. Every weekend, we feature specials that are based on the ingredients we feature every week. Whatever is in season, those are the ingredients we feature,” he said.
Ever passionate about serving his guests, Cataldo never ceases to delight and please the senses. His experiments on the sweet side — cheesecakes — started about six years ago and feature flavors that change with the holidays and seasons, such as pumpkin cheesecake for the autumn months.
Cataldo, who has been with The Mt. Airy Tavern for nine years, said the appeal of the establishment among its guests is due to a diversity of factors — just like the combination of ingredients that go into the cooking. “It’s everything from the consistency of the food to the front of house staff, bussers and bartenders … they create a comfortable place where people can go to eat and get a great meal.”
The Mt. Airy Tavern
1001 Twin Arch Road, Mount Airy, MD 21771 | 301-829-3212 | www.themtairytavern.com