BERLIN – Local. Small. Handmade.
That, according to owner Justine Zegna, is what makes Blacksmith Bar and Restaurant unique.
Located on Pitts Street in Berlin, Blacksmith is a chef-owned and locally sourced establishment that features Eastern Shore inspired dishes and modern cuisine.
For Zegna, the Blacksmith is not just a local restaurant, but a labor of love.
“Everything is made by hand,” she said, “all of the dressings and all of the food.”
Since opening four-and-a-half years ago, Zegna said Blacksmith has grown to become Berlin’s “neighborhood restaurant.”
“The first year was a little slow, the second year was better, the third year we toughed it out, but our fourth year we’ve really done well,” she said. “I think we’ve settled into our place.”
Zegna – who owned a restaurant and catering business in Rehoboth Beach prior to opening Blacksmith – said she decided to relocate to Berlin and opened a year-round establishment in 2014. With the new restaurant, she added, came new customers.
“A lot of the people that were fans of the old restaurant come here, but we’ve got a lot of new fans, especially in the last year,” she said. “It has been amazing.”
Like her previous restaurant, Planet X, Zegna said Blacksmith’s menu features locally sourced and seasonal foods.
“All of my chefs love to cook, and it gives us an opportunity to change things up,” she said, “so we don’t get bored of cooking.”
Zegna said popular menu items include shrimp and grits, jumbo lump crab cakes and an Eastern Shore bahn mi, which features slow-roasted pork shoulder, crispy scrapple, pickled vegetables, Siracha, mayo, cucumber and cilantro.
“We do a lot of Eastern Shore inspired foods, but we also do some Thai dishes, vegetarian and vegan food, local pork and seafood,” she said.
Zegna defines Blacksmith as mix of both casual and fine dining in “a sophisticated atmosphere.” She said patrons have the option to dine inside or out on the deck.
“The outdoor seating is pretty rustic and covered by a maple tree,” she added. “It’s very Berlin-esque.”
Unlike other restaurants, Zegna said Blacksmith, which was recently featured in an issue of Southern Living, stays true to Berlin’s culture of locally owned and operated businesses.
“We are not a corporate-structured restaurant,” she said. “We don’t have managers, but are sort of a staff-run restaurant. It’s been a great group of people, and I think that defines us. We really care about everything that happens, from the front of the house to the back of the house. We coordinate well together.”
Zegna said the restaurant also coordinates with other local businesses. Blacksmith’s menu, for example, features beer from Burley Oak Brewing Company and cakes and baked goods from Baked Dessert Café.
“We all support each other’s businesses,” she said.
Despite the restaurant’s success, Zegna explained she is always looking for ways to improve Blacksmith. In the future, the owner said she would like to open cooking lessons to the community, add music nights and “meet the farmer” events and partner with other local businesses.
“We always strive to be better,” she said, “and these are things we think will help the community and will provide what the community wants.”
Blacksmith is open Monday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and dinner.
For more information, visit blacksmithberlin.com, the restaurant’s Facebook page or Instagram account, or call 410-973-2102.