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Special Message from Mary & Joe

Company History & Bios

AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar’s co-owners, Joe and Mary Barbera, had a life-long dream to open a restaurant and wine bar.

The Barbera Family

Natives of Chicago, Illinois, Joe and Mary moved to Maryland in 1984. Before following his passion for food and wine, Joe worked in the high tech industry for over 20 years and was responsible for sales and marketing for many small start-up companies during his career. Mary owned a calligraphy business for 20 years and is a certified youth minister. Together they have raised five children, all whom at one time or another have been employed at AIDA Bistro.

In addition to their love for their restaurant and their customers, Mary and Joe are actively involved in the community. Joe is s Chairman of the Board of Directors of Blossoms of Hope, a 501C3. He is the past chair of the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) Board, the past President of Howard County Tourism Board, the past Chair of the St Louis Parish Council and also sits on the Board of The Table Foundation in Baltimore.

Mary is actively involved with Gilchrist Hospice and Marriotts Ridge Music Boosters. Both are also long time members of St. Louis Parish in Clarksville, Maryland.

Joe and Mary’s passion for great food and wine is reflected in their philosophy, “Wine is Food,” and shows with their diverse and progressive wine list, and the largest Wine on Tap program in Maryland.

Who is Aida?

Their first restaurant is named after Joe’s mother, Lillian Aida Barbera, who resides with them and often warmly greets patrons on Saturday evenings. To the delight of our guests, many of Aida’s recipes have been incorporated into our menu over the years. If Aida is not greeting guests in person, her smiling portrait promises to greet you in our wine bar.

Kara Lovalvo,  Chef de Cuisine

Kara is from Ellicott City, Maryland

Her love for the Culinary Life began in High School in the Maryland ProStart Program, competing in culinary competitions. Following her successful experience in ProStart, she enrolled at New England Culinary institute (NECI) in 2009 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts (where Nick and Kara met). She worked in local Ellicott City & Columbia Restaurants.  She interned In Maryland at Sharp’s Waterford farm learning how to grow plants from seeds in greenhouses and also interned in Chicago.

She was most recently a Sous Chef at the Columbia location of Petit Louis Bistro. Before being promoted to the Chef’s role, Kara worked in the kitchen at AIDA Bistro as a Lead Line Cook since 2019 and is responsible for many of our delicious pasta dishes.

She is excited to be at AIDA Bistro and is creating her own dishes and cooks food she loves. Stop by to taste her & Nick’s food and say hello.

Nick Fontaine Jr, Sous Chef

Nick is from the Chain O’ Lakes region of Northern Illinois.  He began his Culinary Career in 2008 and enrolled at New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, VT. Nick graduated with a bachelors degree in culinary arts.

He has interned and worked in restaurant kitchens in Chicago, Vermont and in historic Ellicott City MD at the Rumor Mill as the Sous Chef, when the Chef was named restaurateur of the year in 2012. Nick remained at the Rumor Mill until the flood of 2016 closed the restaurant.


Nick has been at AIDA Bistro as a Lead Line Cook since 2019 and is responsible for many of our delicious meat & seafood dishes. He was promoted to Sous Chef and along with Kara is showing his cooking, menu  and culinary creativity.

Our Team

We take great pride in our staff’s friendly service and their warm hospitality. It is our philosophy to help our staff continually improve by taking classes, participating in culinary contests and other kinds of self and community improvement. There are several charity events that our entire staff supports. These include: Gilchrist Hospice’s Taste of Howard County, Souper Bowl of Caring and raising funds for Blossoms of Hope to support the Tina Broccolino/Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center.

We believe our company history and dedicated staff makes the difference in your overall experience at AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar. Please EAT, DRINK and EXPERIENCE our restaurant and let us know what we can do to make your visit even more enjoyable.