Giada De Laurentiis talks crabcakes, pasta and what made her fall in love with Baltimore

Move over Guy and Gordon. A new “G” star is coming to the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore.

She may be small in stature, but Giada De Laurentiis is mighty in her Italian cooking and her brand.

The Food Network star is bringing her signature dishes like lemon spaghetti and vegetable Bolognese to Baltimore and opening her first restaurant on the East Coast called “GDL Italian by Giada.”

She spoke with reporters and food bloggers at the casino about what customers can expect when the restaurant opens this spring.

De Laurentiis has two restaurants in Las Vegas, a fine dining one called “Giada” at the Cromwell and another one she refers to as quick service called “Pronto” at Caesars Palace.

But she’ll be honest. She wasn’t completely sold on coming to Baltimore.

“So when the powers at be at Caesars offered me Baltimore I thought ‘but why?’ Why would I go to Baltimore? I’m a California girl so Vegas makes sense. Baltimore, I was a little hesitant.”

De Laurentiis made it a point to get to know Baltimore, to see if she and the city would be a right fit for each other. And Charm City worked its charm on this Cali girl.

“I love how proud everyone is of this city,” she said. “That drew me because its similar to the way I feel about my own culture, and my own country, and my own food. There’s something to be said about that kind of pride. You don’t find it in every city.”

She says “GDL” will be a mix of her fine dining and quick service restaurants in Vegas. There will be a wide selection of pastas, pizzas and antipasti. De Laurentiis says she is hoping to use as many local vendors as possible.

Will there be an ode to Baltimore? Perhaps, said De Laurentiis. One idea she has is to create a crabcake version of arancini, which is typically a fried ball of risotto. She would ideally pair it with an Old Bay aioli. Another idea she has in a Rockfish cacciatore. She and her team are working to finalize the menu.

The wine will be an assortment from around the country and world at affordable price points, she said.

The folks at the Horseshoe have made it a point to take De Laurentiis out on the town and introduce her to local chefs, such as Cindy Wolf, who owns several restaurants in Baltimore including The Charleston.

De Laurentiis says there was an instant connection between the two.

“I think it’s so great when you get to see and meet another counterpart, who is very successful in a town and worked really hard to get there and is recognized for great food and for who she is,” De Laurentiis said.

There is no set opening date for “GDL” but the celebrity chef is hoping to unveil it in mid-April. Her hope for the customers’ experience is one that they feel when they watch her TV shows.

“It is an inviting place to be, it has great food, people will be kind and respectful to you and you will be wined and dined.”

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