Here is part 1 of the results from the 2022 Best of Jewish Baltimore reader’s choice competition

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From the best Jewish deli to the best spa and everything in between, it’s time once again for the Baltimore Jewish Times’ annual Best of Jewish Baltimore, with winners and runners-up from dozens of categories presented across two issues.

These winners are chosen by readers, who submit their choices for best businesses, services and more in the community, and then vote for their top picks.


This week, the JT presents this year’s first batch of winners in our food, lifecycle, medical, personal services and senior resources categories. Stay tuned for next week, where we’ll share the winners in camps, education, community/recreation, kosher food, home services and retail.

Please join us in celebrating 2022’s Best of Jewish Baltimore. Enjoy!

Best Bar: Citron

Susan and Charles Levine of Citron
Susan and Charles Levine of Citron (Courtesy of the Levines)

Charles Levine feels like a good bar is an extension of a good restaurant — which comes from fostering relationships with guests.

“I wanted a place that focused on really taking care of people — thanking people when they come in, serving them, learning what they wanted and just exceeding expectations,” he said.

Levine and his wife, Susan, are the owners of Citron, which they opened in Quarry Lake in 2016.

Coming off a catering career spanning at least 30 years, 9,000 events and clients that have included four presidents, The Rolling Stones, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, Charles Levine had an idea for a permanent space for centralized entertainment.

The beautiful view overlooking a 40-acre lake in Greenspring Valley, paired with a restaurant and public and private event spaces, was the key.

The COVID-19 pandemic could have been crippling, but Levine said it was a needed reset button to deliver the experience he envisioned. Upon installation of an UV light and ionization air filtration system, Citron reopened during the pandemic in June 2020.

People have been flocking to the bar for the last 25 months. By the end of July, Citron will have served 100,000 guests since then — far more than it did pre-pandemic.

Jewish culture is very important to the Levines, as well as to their children — who all went on Birthright trips to Israel — but in business, Charles Levine said he thinks beyond his ties to the community.

His focus is on inclusion for a diverse array of guests, with a commitment to quality and made-to-order products, he said.

Standouts include 110 wines and bubbles (both Champagne and Crémant), a menu that has been recognized with a Wine Spectator magazine award since 2019 and some surprises.

“We don’t just serve what you’re gonna find in the store,” Levine said. “We’re gonna find that French winery that’s in Sonoma who makes a first-line Pinot … that tastes more like a French Burgundy.”

Bar service is also individualized to everyone’s taste, he said.

“The person who drinks bourbon has a stash of bourbon at home, so if we feel comfortable enough with them we’re gonna say, ‘Listen, don’t just drink what you drink at home. Let’s find something that could maybe be another new bottle for you,’” Levine said.

Or the party of six that comes in asking for a reliable bottle of wine they know and love — if they’re open to recommendations, “the second bottle’s gonna be an adventure,” Levine added.

— Lindsay VanAsdalan

Best Catering: Catering by Yaffa

Isaac and Shula Ankri of Catering by Yaffa
Isaac and Shula Ankri of Catering by Yaffa (Courtesy of Catering by Yaffa)

For Isaac Ankri, president of Catering by Yaffa, one of the best parts of his job is putting smiles on people’s faces.

“When we do a wedding, and at the end of the wedding everyone is happy, and they all have a good time, and you see the smiles on their faces, that’s worth more than anything,” said Ankri, a resident of Baltimore’s Mt. Washington area and a member of a number of different synagogues, including Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.

While neither Ankri nor his wife, Shula, was ever trained as a chef, he has long been involved in the food business, he said, and Shula also has a great deal of experience in cooking.

Isaac Ankri grew up with limited resources and, while working at a Jewish sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania, he realized the highest-paying jobs were always in the kitchen. He started as a pot washer and worked his way up to sous chef.

Isaac Ankri originally had the idea to start Catering by Yaffa while working at Seven Mile Market, believing that a catering business could help him to better provide for his children. The business incorporated in 1998. While they have about 15 employees “on a daily basis,” including both Isaac and Shula Ankri, for particularly large events they may employ as many as a hundred people.

Shula Ankri is in charge of the kitchen, said Isaac Ankri, while he focuses on the business side of the company.

“I’m going to tell you a secret,” Ankri said. “If you ever want to have a husband and wife work together, you have to separate their jobs.”

The company typically caters to kosher customers, Ankri said, and is certified as kosher by Star-K. While there have been many times when they have catered events with significant numbers of non-Jews, they only offer kosher options.

“If someone wants, let’s say, shrimp, or a cheeseburger, we’ll have to improvise, but we don’t do the real thing,” Ankri said.

Today, the menu is specially tailored to the needs of a specific client.

“So if a client wants, I don’t know, rib steak and lamb chops and things like that, we tailor that to that,” Ankri said. The same goes if a client would prefer Moroccan, Egyptian or Persian cuisine. “My wife is very talented, and she’s able to incorporate many different cuisines into our company,” Ankri said.

Ankri added that “I could not be where I am today without her.”

Ankri was glad to report that business recently has “never been better.” While the pandemic of course came with challenging times, the return of family events like weddings and b’nai mitzvah has helped a great deal.

— Jesse Berman

Best Real Estate Agency: Margaret Rome, Homerome Realty

Margaret Rome of HomeRome Realty
Margaret Rome of HomeRome Realty (David Stuck)

Margaret Rome never meant to be a real estate agent. She once dreamed of being a ceramicist, a dream she quit her head nursing job to pursue. But when she sustained injuries from a car accident, she began taking real estate classes so she could work while being unable to sculpt.

It’s been over 30 years since then, and while she may not have intended to become the next big name in real estate, her unique and enthusiastic approach is what secured her the Best Real Estate Agency award.

The properties Rome sells are often unorthodox. She frequently picks up properties considered “unsalable” and manages to find the perfect people to live there.

A particularly noteworthy story involves her marketing a home located near railroad tracks. While the constant noise made it a hard sell, she sold it to a retired train conductor who considered it his “dream location” due to its proximity to the trains.

Rome is not just a real estate agent, though. She’s also written a book based on her experiences and hosts her own radio show, “All About Real Estate.” Her different skills come in handy for her when she sells houses.

Real estate, she notes on her blog, requires her to use more psychology than even nursing did. She believes nurses make great real estate agents because they’re quick on their feet.

“I want to continue what I’m doing,” Rome said of her future plans. “What I’m doing is my bucket list right now, finding buyers and sellers who want to make their dreams come true. … Matching those buyers and sellers is my plan for the future. I’ve been doing it for 32 years.”

— Jillian Diamond

Best Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care: Arden Courts ProMedica Memory Care

Arden Courts in Pikesville
Arden Courts in Pikesville (Kelly Kypraios)

When one of the residents at Arden Courts ProMedica Memory Care’s Pikesville location began showing signs of dementia and refused to leave their room, Kelly Kypraios, the facility’s executive director, found that delving into the resident’s personal history was an effective way to get through to them.

“We found out that the family was the one that came up with the Old Bay recipe and had sold it to [a] Baltimore spice company,” said Kypraios, who lives in the Lutherville-Timonium area. “And this resident kept talking about crabcakes. So we put together a little opportunity for her to make crabcakes, and then we were able to share them with other residents.

“And that’s something that’s really important,” Kypraios said. “Still making memories happen in a safe way.”

Kypraios described the Arden Courts staff as experts in memory care, trained specifically to work with residents living with dementia.

“Everything that was designed in our building layout was designed with memory care in mind,” Kypraios said.

Essentially all of the residents at Arden Courts are dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, Kypraios said. She emphasized that the freedom of movement available to their residents makes their community unique.

“Our residents do not feel like they are in a locked unit,” Kypraios said. “We are a secure community, but our residents have freedom of movement throughout the building.”

The Pikesville location is a 56-bed facility, Kypraios said, with a total of 44 residents currently there, around 60% of whom are Jewish. Kypraios offers programs centered around Jewish holidays including Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Shavuot, as well as weekly Shabbat services with a visiting rabbi, Kypraios said.

“That’s one thing that families like, that their loved ones can still continue to enjoy all those holidays and still the customs, in a secure community,” Kypraios said. “And obviously we welcome our families to join, too, so it allows them to still experience and create memories with their loved ones.”

— Jesse Berman

Best Pre-Birth Program: Bayla Berkowitz, Charm City Midwives

Not everyone wants to give birth in a hospital — and for those people in the Baltimore area, Charm City Midwives offers safe and mindful prenatal care.

Founded by Jewish certified nurse-midwife Bayla Berkowitz, Charm City Midwives opened its doors in 2015 as A Better Birth Midwifery. They have been successfully delivering babies and providing care to expecting mothers for seven years.

In 2021 alone, Charm City Midwives delivered 89 babies, including 75 home births, 35 water births and five sets of twins.

The midwifery operates based on the idea that a mother knows her body best and is more than capable of making her own decisions about the births of her children. They believe that every woman should have the right to a home birth should they choose, and that home births are a perfectly safe process that can benefit both mother and child.

“There are other options out there aside from routine medical care,” said Berkowitz, who first became a certified midwife in 2008. “A lot of clients come to me because they can’t get appointments with their doctor for months.”

Charm City Midwives aims to put their clients’ well-being first. They offer personalized services and limit their monthly clientele so they can offer them exhaustive, personal sessions. They even offer next-day appointments for people who need care immediately. For those not expecting, they also provide annual check-ups and contraceptive counseling.

“It’s exciting,” Berkowitz said of being nominated for Best of Jewish Baltimore. “I’m glad that people know about my practice and are aware of the benefits of personalized prenatal care and home birth.”

— Jillian Diamond

Here’s the full list:

Food

Bagel

  1. THB Bagelry and Deli
  2. Goldberg’s New York Bagels

Bakery

  1. Pariser’s Bakery, Baltimore
  2. Croustille Café, Pikesville

Bar

  1. Citron, Quarry Lake, Baltimore
  2. The Owl Bar, Baltimore

Brunch

  1. Miss Shirley’s Cafe
  2. Goldberg’s New York Bagels, Pikesville

Coffee

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts, Pikesville
  2. Zeke’s Coffee, Baltimore

Diner

  1. The Nautilus Diner & Restaurant, Timonium
  2. Dougie’s Bar-B-Que & Grill, Pikesville

Grocery

  1. Wegmans
  2. Market Maven, Pikesville

Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt

  1. Rita’s of Quarry Lake, Baltimore
  2. Cold Stone Creamery

Jewish Deli

  1. Knish Shop, Baltimore
  2. Attman’s Delicatessen, Baltimore

Liquor Store

  1. Quarry Wine & Spirits, Baltimore
  2. KB Grill & Wok, Baltimore

Pizza

  1. Tov Pizza, Baltimore
  2. Ledo Pizza, Owings Mills

Restaurant

  1. Linwoods
  2. David Chu’s China Bistro

Lifecycle

Catering

  1. Catering by Yaffa
  2. Zeffert and Gold Catering

Chabad

  1. Chabad of Owings Mills
  2. Chabad of Park Heights

Event Venues

  1. Ateres Elka, Owings Mills; M&T Bank Stadium (TIE)
  2. The Belvedere

Family-Friendly Shabbat Service

  1. Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Congregation, Baltimore
  2. Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Judaica Shop

  1. Shabsi’s Judaica Center
  2. Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Party Planner

  1. Innovative Party Planners, Owings Mills
  2. Details by Dena, Baltimore

Photographer/Videographer

  1. Joshua Anolik Photography
  2. Bradley Images, Pikesville

Medical

Pre-Birth Programs

  1. Bayla Berkowitz, Charm City Midwives, Stevenson
  2. Alpha Pregnancy Center, Reisterstown

Audiology

  1. Taylor Listening Center, Pikesville
  2. Leslie Papel, Hearing Services Baltimore, Baltimore

Cosmetic Surgery

  1. Plastic Surgery Center of Maryland, P.A.
  2. Dr. Adam Basner, M.D. Plastic Surgery

Dentist

  1. Dr. Charles Fine, McDonogh Dental, Owings Mills
  2. Andrew I. Pupkin, D.D.S., P.A.

ER/Hospital

  1. GBMC Healthcare
  2. The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Gastroenterologist

  1. Edward J. Wolf, M.D., Woodholme Gastroenterology Associates
  2. Elliot Schwarzenberger, M.D., Woodholme Gastroenterology Associates

Lasik Center

  1. Katzen Eye Group
  2. Wilmer Eye Institute, Lutherville

Mental Health

  1. Sheppard Pratt, Baltimore
  2. Talya Knable Psychotherapy, Baltimore

OB/GYN

  1. Dr. Margery Kates, M.D., Aurora Women’s Health, Owings Mills
  2. Allan I. Rubin, M.D., Capital Women’s Care

Orthodontist

  1. Laura Friedman, DDS, Specialists in Orthodontics Maryland
  2. David Ross Orthodontics, Lutherville-Timonium

Orthopedic Practice

  • OrthoMaryland
  • Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics

Pediatrician

  1. Jason Goldstein, M.D., Pavilion Pediatrics at Green Spring Station, P.A., Baltimore
  2. Susan Wandishin, M.D., Owings Mills Pediatrics, Owings Mills

Pharmacy

  1. Better Care Pharmacy, Pikesville
  2. Giant Pharmacy, Owings Mills

Urgent Care

  1. Patient First
  2. MedStar Health: Urgent Care at Pikesville

Vein Clinic

  1. The Vein Center at GBMC, Towson
  2. Maryland Vascular Specialists

Vet

  1. Falls Road Animal Hospital, Baltimore
  2. Main Street Veterinary Hospital, Reisterstown

Vision Care

  1. Katzen Eye Group
  2. Krieger Eye Institute, Baltimore

Personal Services

Bank

  1. Bank of America, Lutherville
  2. M&T Bank

Barber

  1. Great Clips, Quarry Lake
  2. Hair Cuttery, Eldersburg Commons, Sykesville

Car Wash

  1. Sparkle Car Wash & Detailing
  2. B-More Hand Car Wash, Pikesville

Dry Cleaners

  1. Polovoy Custom Cleaners
  2. Glyndon Lord Baltimore Cleaners

Financial Planner

  1. Alexander F. Barron, VSM Wealth Advisory, Hunt Valley; The Zolet Lenet and Fink Group at Morgan Stanley (TIE)
  2. Wye Financial Partners

Insurance Agency

  1. Diversified Insurance Industries; Schoenfeld Insurance Associates, Baltimore (TIE)
  2. Dane Spealman, State Farm Insurance Agent

Law Firm

  1. Richard Goldner, Simons & Goldner, P.A., Lutherville
  2. Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr

Makeup Artist

  1. Adina B. Full Service Salon, Pikesville
  2. Owen O’Donnell

Mani/Pedi

  1. About Faces Day Spa & Salon
  2. Adina B. Full Service Salon, Pikesville

Massage

  1. Adina B. Full Service Salon, Pikesville
  2. Michelle Bar-Av, Pikesville

Pet Groomer

  1. Pretti-Pet Inc Mobile Salon
  2. Shaggy Chic Pet Grooming, Timonium

Real Estate Agency

  1. Margaret Rome, HomeRome Realty, Baltimore
  2. Barry J. Nabozny, The Barry Nabozny Team, Baltimore

Salon

  1. Adina B, Full Service Salon, Pikesville
  2. Salon 36 in Baltimore, Owings Mills

Sheitel Macher

  1. Devorah Grunwald
  2. Orna Levin, Orna Wigs, Pikesville

Spa

  1. Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, Baltimore
  2. About Faces Day Spa and Salon

Seniors

55+ Community

  1. Edenwald, Towson
  2. Roland Park Place, Baltimore

Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care

  1. Arden Courts ProMedica Memory care
    Arden Courts ProMedica Memory Care Communities are free-standing memory care communities solely dedicated to caring for persons living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Five years of research by dementia experts helped develop the unique, innovative design. Our success-oriented, tailored programs help each Arden Courts resident maintain their highest level of independence and promote their sense of
    well-being. Arden Courts’ large enclosed indoor and outdoor walking paths offer our residents a sense of freedom and independence while keeping security in mind. At Arden Courts, we know and we understand because memory care is all we do.

Memory Care Communities

  1. 8101 Bellona Avenue, Towson, Maryland 21204;
    410-847-9400
  2. 8909 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, Maryland 21208; 410-415-5600
    Blakehurst, Towson

Homecare Services

  1. The Lisa Vogel Agency, Lutherville-Timonium
  2. The Nurse Bank of Maryland, Inc.

Assisted Living

  1. North Oaks, Pikesville
  2. Weinberg Park Assisted Living, Baltimore

Hospice Care

  1. Gilchrist, Hunt Valley
  2. Accent Care

Independent Living

  1. Brightview Senior Living, Baltimore
  2. North Oaks, Pikesville

Senior Center

  1. Reisterstown Senior Center
  2. Bykota Senior Center, Towson

 

 

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