Jimmy Webb & The Cabaret at Germano'sCabaret Scenes
In the intimate confines of the Cabaret at Germano's, Jimmy Webb sat at the piano, sang his songs, told stories and made us feel like we had dropped in on him at home.
Listening to Webb's generous concert makes one aware that he has one of the most under-appreciated and versatile songbooks of the mid-rock era, as he reeled off hit after hit, such as "MacArthur Park," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Up, Up and Away," and so many more. And that doesn't include the substantial portions of his catalog that he didn't perform, such as "Didn't We" and "Wichita Lineman." A special delight of the concert was Webb's performance of lesser-known songs from his catalog such as "All I Know" and the hysterically funny "What Does a Woman See in a Man?"
Webb performs in a manner typical of many songwriters—great diction and clarity of thought with occasional abbreviations of musical phrases and vocal lines. In one charming moment, he asked the audience to supply the high notes in "Up, Up and Away." But his interpretations were well worth noting for what he emphasized in his material.
The highlights, though, came with the songwriter's anecdotes about his life experiences and his insights to his music and the writing process. He was a charming raconteur, whether the topic was pub-crawling in Ireland with Richard Harris or dating Miss Universe.
He offered his insight that "songs have a will of their own," and modestly stated, "all great writing is imitative of great writing—and I've imitated the hell out of them." Perhaps so, but Webb's show proved that his approach yielded great success, both for himself as a writer and for generations of listeners.
Tucked away in an upstairs dining room of an erstwhile Little Italy eatery, The Cabaret at Germano's, 300 S. High Street, 410-752-4515, gets maximum returns from its small performance space and baby grand piano. From world-class entertainers-the likes of Tracie Thoms and cast members from Fiddler on the Roof have appeared here-to spirited youngsters honing their skills-School for the Arts students are regularly on the bill-its roster of acts balances polished professionalism with Glee-like infectiousness. The performers are talented, the atmosphere is intimate, and the food is excellent-it's the perfect recipe for cabaret. (Baltimore Magazine, August 2010)
Spaghetti and Encores
A Little Italy restaurant turns an upstairs dining room into a popular cabaret. By Brennen Jensen, Baltimore Magazine
It's a Sunday night up on the second floor at Germano's Trattoria, a Little Italy stalwart strung along the neighborhood's main drag. The pumpkin-colored walls are hung with vintage Art Nouveau posters, but all eyes are upon vocalist Sophie Louise Roland, a statuesque blonde in a diaphanous maroon dress.
The evening's entertainment, she says, is all about "sensuality." Patrons now have all the more reason to look up from their plates of braised beef shanks and red beet ravioli. "No one is going to die tonight," she adds with a grin.
It's an odd introduction unless you're aware, as most in the room are, that the Canadian mezzo-soprano is fresh from performing the titular roll in the American Opera Theater's production of Carmen at Baltimore Theater Project. In Bizet's beloved-but-tragic opera, death is very much on tap before curtain fall.
With a nod to her accompanist, Simone Luti, who's ensconced behind a Yamaha baby grand, Roland launches into an eclectic evening of song. Arias, of course, but also Edith Piaf torch songs, works from the Kurt Weill songbook and from out of West Side Story—even the Emerald Island chestnut "Danny Boy." The audience eats it up as eagerly as they tuck into their Tuscany-inspired entrees. An encore is demanded and delivered.
"These are songs that I grew up with—songs that first drew me to singing but that you put aside for a long time in your classical training," a radiant Roland says over a post-performance glass of Chianti. "Small venues allow people to appreciate what live performance is all about. Such intimacy—no one ever wrote music hoping for it to be distant from the public."
Looking for fresh fans in Little Italy, a red-sauce stalwart tries some new song and dance. By Martha Thomas, Urbanite Magazine
It's a Thursday evening in an upstairs dining room at Germano's Trattoria in Little Italy, and a 27-year-old singer named David Frankenberger is performing "Mister Cellophane" from the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago. The number—known as a "character song" in musical-theater lingo—is the comic lament of a guy who doesn't get noticed, no matter what he does. For some reason, Frankenberger is also wearing a red rubber nose—an unnecessary touch, says Maris Wicker, a seasoned cabaret performer seated at a nearby table. "There's no need to jump through hoops," she says.
Cabaret, after all, is supposed to be about the performer, the audience, and the music. And—because this is Little Italy—it's also about the food, a mix of tried-and-true Italian-American faves and some more modern variations: lasagna layered with red sauce, artichoke-stuffed veal scallopini blanketed in melted provolone, buttery lobster in homemade ravioli, crisp-skinned whole fish, a basket of chewy white bread, and Chianti by the glass. As the audience eats, the show goes on.
With an enthusiasm that belies its staid guise, this 30-year-old restaurant in the heart of Little Italy has added something new to the menu: performing arts. In addition to cabaret, Germano's is hosting singers from the Baltimore Opera, live jazz on Tuesday nights, theater from a forgotten Italian master, and even an occasional evening that gives student-performers from Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) an opportunity to work before a paying audience, albeit one that may be more interested in their osso buco than in whatever's happening on stage.
Broadway's Rena Strober to Perform at the Cabaret at Germano's, 4/3 By BMW News Desk, BroadwayWorld.com
Rena Strober is known in New York and across the country from Broadway performances (Cosette in Les Miserables, Tzeitel in Topol's Fiddler on the Roof, Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Tonya in Zhivago) TV appearances (Law & Order, Criminal Intent and House Arrest) to her 1-woman show Spaghetti & Matzo Balls! to concerts onstage at Lincoln Center, Town Hall and on home plate for the Mets. She is currently in rehearsals for a new Off-Broadway play called White's Lies starring Betty Buckely and Peter Scolari.
Rena charms us with her gorgeous voice as she shares music from her debut album "Finding Home" as well as favorites to help celebrate Passover & Easter. She's familiar with bringing the Jewish & Italian worlds together. Her acclaimed 1-woman show "Spaghetti & Matzo Balls!" tells the unbelievable story about how her Jewish roots became entangled in New York's Italian
vines. From singing at the infamous Italian restaurant Rao's, to hosting the Miss Italian American pageant, dodging Mafia bullets to being set up by her 90 year old Jewish Grandma. She's excited to be visiting Baltimore during Passover and the night before Easter. Yet another reason to explore more similarities between two cultures, not the least of which is that both are all about food. From Matzo to chocolate eggs, there's no better place to celebrate than over delicious food at Germano's!
Ms. Strober performed at the Cabaret at Germano's last October with Mary Stout and fellow cast members from Fiddler in a benefit for Broadway Cares: Equity Fights Aids. For more information on Rena Strober, visit her website http://www.renastrober.com/
IN THE HEIGHTS Tour Cast Hosts
BC/EFA Cabaret Benefit, 3/1 By Charles Shubow, BroadwayWorld.com
Cast members of the tour of the Tony-winning musical In the Heights will be presenting a cabaret performance Monday night, March 1 at the Cabaret at Germano's in Little Italy.
Organizing the event is cast member Rayanne Gonzalez who said this is the first such event for the tour which is currently performing at the Hippodrome Theatre through March 7.
Musical Director James Fitzpatrick is responsible for putting Germano's in touch with Gonzales for the event. Fitzpatrick, who is a musical legend in the area, was musical director at the Everyman Theatre's productions of Jaques Brel and The Last Five Years.
Gonzales will be joined by cast members Daniel Bolero and DeWitt Cooper III. According to Gonzales, "We will be presenting songs from Ragtime, Porgy and Bess, a little Puccini, and some other surprises. You can also expect a large contingent of fellow cast members to attend as well."
Reviews of the Cabaret at Germano's are available on TripAdvisor.com. Click on the "Trip Advisor" button to read the reviews.
Germano's Trattoria has also been rated online at zagat.com. Click on the "Zagat Rated" button to read how others have rated Germano's.
One of Little Italy's stars shines brighter with new Tuscan meal (August 1994)
Since it opened, Germano's Trattoria Petrucci has consistently been one of Little Italy's best restaurants -- a cozy little spot with attentive waiters where you can get imaginative food as well as the usual spaghetti bolognese and shrimp in marinara sauce. Now owner Germano Fabiani is offering something special: a six-course dinner that will introduce Baltimoreans to some of the classic dishes from his native Tuscany. Whether enough people are going to be willing to give up their shrimp in marinara sauce to make it worthwhile to continue the special dinners is another question. But what a bargain.
The Tuscan dinner is fun because the only choice you have to make is what Chianti to order. Then you sit back and wait for you first course. Try to resist the slender, made-on-the-premises bread sticks and Tuscan bread. But if you can't ... the bread is almost saltless (which is traditional) and goes wonderfully with wine. There's also rosemary-scented focaccia, Italian flat bread, in the basket.
The reason I urge you to resist the good bread is that the first course is bruschette, three small rectangles of bread brushed generously with olive oil, grilled, and topped three different ways -- one slice with chopped garlic, one with fresh tomatoes and basil, and one with a scattering of white beans. Next is a lively, piping-hot tomato-based vegetable soup (pappa al pomodoro), appealingly presented in a bread "bowl" that has the texture of a very crisp pizza crust.
Then comes a classic Tuscan pasta, homemade taglierini -- something like a delicate fettuccine -- with a masterful ground veal sauce that gets better with every bite. I regretfully left half of it to save room for the next three courses, but I almost wish I hadn't. It was the best part of the meal.
That's not to say what follows isn't good. It is -- except for the salad, which lacks the pizzazz of the rest of dinner. The ingredients are ordinary, and the dressing sweet and too full of chopped egg for my taste.
Mr. Fabiani plans to change the main course of his Tuscan dinner sometime soon, but currently it's spiedino toscano, a small, mixed-grill of meats marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (Tuscany is located in the middle of Italy, so seafood isn't a particular specialty. But some will be included when the menu changes.) The grill now consists of a tiny, tender lamb chop, a piece of crisp-skinned duck, half a highly spiced sausage and vegetables. The promised chicken failed to make an appearance, but at this point we didn't miss it. With the grill comes fried polenta, wonderfully moist inside and crusty.
Dinner ends with a delicate tiramisu -- the spongecake, mascarpone cheese and whipped cream concoction as lusciously caloric as it is deceptively light. Tiramisu's origins are hazy, even though Germano's has claimed it for Tuscany. But who am I to argue with a dessert this good? --Elizabeth Large
Germano's Trattoria Petrucci
This remains one of the finest restaurants in Little Italy. Now enlarged with an opened upstairs, it's roomy and attractively decorated with turn-of-the-century posters. The service couldn't easily be better, but the best part is that the restaurant's menu hasn't remained stagnant. Germano Fabiani is from Tuscany, and he has decided to specialize in Tuscan-style cuisine.
Our dinner was delicious, beginning with bruschetta, or grilled bread with Gorgonzola cheese and scallions; continuing with small portions of two pastas, penne with duck sauce and taglierini with veal sauce, the penne more interesting and neither quite warm enough; simple, fresh, perfectly cooked swordfish; osso buco whose veal shank pieces were in a brown sauce light enough that the herbs could speak; a Tuscan mixed grill of lamb, duck, chicken and (the best of all) Italian sausage, served with polenta. Light-as-thistledown tiramisu and a pear poached in red wine and served with ice cream ended this very good meal -JD
Baltimore Bites (July 1995)
... Little Italy offers four square blocks of superb restaurants, including Germano's Trattoria, whose exceptional Tuscan dishes include mussels steamed in garlic sauce, wondrous fettucines, and bruschetta (garlicky Tuscan grilled bread topped with Gorgonzola and scallions).