I've received many emails about an article that ran in the Cape Gazette in September, 2012. The article appeared in The Business of Eating column and apparently created quite a stir with local restaurant people. I am pleased to reprint it here, with the Cape Gazette's kind permission of course. Enjoy!
(Note: If you don't live in Rehoboth Beach, Dewey or Lewes, skip to paragraph 5.)
One of the highlights of my time in the southern hinterlands of Bethany Beach was the early Sunday morning dash to Touch of Italy in Millville for Mama Diane Bascio's sticky buns. And it went without saying that after you braved the line that often stretched onto the sidewalk of the tiny strip center (containing Al Casapulla's Sub Shop and Golden Scissor barber shop), you might as well stock up on a few
You won't find it unless you're looking for it. Turn west onto Rt. 16 from Coastal Highway and drive about 5 minutes. As you enter Milton, the first thing you'll see on the right is a Dollar Store sign. Make the very next right and turn into that lot. Drive around toward the back of the building. You will be rewarded with the Po'Boys Creole & Fresh Catch restaurant. (And I thought getting into the new Fins in Rehoboth was complicated!) If Po'Boys were any more nondescript, it wouldn't be there at all. But don't be fooled! Chef Mike Clampitt's reincarnation of the 4-year-old tribute to
Fins and Claws restaurants have been fixtures on Rehoboth Avenue for a very long time. In spite of business partnership shakeups and changes in management over the years, Jeff Hamer et al have done a good job maintaining quality and consistency of service. And both eateries remain summertime magnets for those who appreciate chowing down on our maritime friends ... and sipping lots of beer and infused spirits. Fins does seem to have the edge on Claws when it comes to
I have a category called "Hidden Gems" in my travel app, Rehoboth In My Pocket. It gives me an excuse to recommend exceptional stores, services, activities and restaurants that are outside of the Rehoboth, Dewey and Lewes area. The spring 2014 update to Rehoboth In My Pocket will definitely include Flying Fish Cafe in Fenwick Island. It qualifies on all three counts: It's south of Rehoboth, it's definitely hidden, and our experiences so far have proven it to be exceptional.
My intrepid crew of sushiphiles includes Stingray's Andrea Herman, Mikimoto's/Stingray's executive sushi chef Al Chu, Bethany exercise fanatic, training guru and all-around cutiepie Lisa Velasco, and Rehoboth's own Renee Butler Wright (aka, "She who dwells amongst the smokers"). Thanks to their patient tutelage, I am now confident in my knowledge of what's good and what's not-so-good in the realm of vinegared rice, maki, sashimi and sundry marine creatures who have never experienced a fryer, skillet or oven.
In keeping with its hidden gem status, Flying Fish Cafe is tucked away in the red siding-clad Village of Fenwick and is not
Several establishments to the south have been crying out for attention, and now that the seasonal dust has settled I promise to visit all of them. Remember that I go three times before I write about places, so it takes me a while. One eatery about which I have received several emails is the Penguin Diner in Bethany Beach, and last night I completed my last visit.
Things don't get much beachier than the Penguin Diner. Situated in downtown Bethany on the north side of the Ocean Block of Garfield Parkway, it naturally shows the wear and tear inflicted by the summer parade of families, children, teenagers and pretty much everybody else filing in and out for beach eats. But that's part of its personality, and the whole penguin theme is festive and cute. (The menu offers Pengwiches -- served with
I’ve been waiting until Andy Meddick finished his “big kids’” grilled cheese bar before posting an article, and goodness knows it took him long enough. But the wait was worth it, and Rehoboth's very first fromagerie, Morgan & Gower Cheesemongers, is now complete, up and running. Turophiles of central Sussex can now rejoice, as the former Good For You Foods grocer’s black-and-white striped gourmet specialty shop on the ocean block of Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach is the place to go for quality artisanal cheeses (mostly domestic, as the Welshman is proud of saying). In fact, before Andy purchases a
Installation #3 (the bakery at Five Points actually makes it 4) of the popular Touch of Italy Italian deli/restaurant group opened with great pomp & circumstance in mid-July 2013 in Shore Plaza, directly across from Tanger Seaside Outlets. It's been a wild ride for everybody involved with Touch of Italy, from the drama surrounding the opening of their first location on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth, to the sad conflict between former friend/investor/mentor Bob Ciprietti and original Millville Touch of Italy owners Frank & Louie Bascio, to the largely unfounded rumors and scuttlebutt flying all over the place about everyone involved. As of this writing, the former paisanos and business partners are still not speaking to one another, and the whole thing is probably going to
I have a lot of respect for Matt Haley's SoDel Concepts restaurants. For the most part they put out consistently good food and service at a reasonable price. Of course, they've had their highs and lows like everybody else; Blue Coast is still one of the best in the group (high), and the long-gone Betty's in Rehoboth seemed like a good idea, but never really came together (low).
But there is something to be said for a strong corporate philosophy and a solid management team that genuinely cares about the organization. SoDel Concepts has both, not to mention a worldwide
RehobothFoodie.com is in its 4th year (!), and the Foodie is working and chewing to keep reviews and articles up-to-date. We have also removed reader comments that are more than a couple of years old. So post your new comments regarding your recent visits!
Below is a linked list of the most recent updates to existing reviews, many with brand new photos. Pass the Alka-Seltzer, please!
Lupo di Mare, Po'Boys Creole & Fresh Catch, Root Gourmet, 1776 Steakhouse, Confucius Gourmet Chinese, Abbott's Grill Milford, Salt Air, Semra's Mediterranean Grill, Edie Bee's, Kindle, Half Full, Cultured Pearl, Back Porch Cafe, Victoria's Restaurant, Saketumi, Bramble & Brine, Striper Bites, Touch of Italy II (Lewes), Whiskey Beach BBQ in Dewey, Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar, The Point Coffee Shoppe, Ivy, Shorebreak Lodge, Nage, Pelican Grill, The Buttery in Lewes, Liquid Assets in OC, PrimoHoagies, Pig & Fish Restaurant Company, Villa Sorrento, Mariachi, The Brick Hotel, a(MUSE.), Mixx, Rose & Crown, Stingray Sushi Bar & Asian Latino Grill, Patty's in Georgetown, Lily Thai, Pickled Pig Pub, JAM Bistro, Summer House.
More on the way.
It takes a lot of nerve to open a resort restaurant in the off-season. Close attention to quality is essential, as flaws in execution can be amplified as word travels through the relatively small year-round population. Yes, some restaurants pull it off -- take Bramble & Brine and Fins Ale House & Raw Bar in Rehoboth, for example. But I have to be honest; our experiences at Sabor in Bethany Beach were marked by flaws that may or may not be fixable, given the actions (and lack thereof) of management. More about that later.
That being said, Sabor Restaurant certainly has its high points, including the generous and potent margaritas (get the pomegranate version with Avion Silver). On several visits. companions ordered the Golden Margs (Patron Reposada & Grand Marnier), and reported them worth every bit of the $13 tariff. Another semi-high point is the
Good things come to those who wait. And yes, we waited ... and waited ... through the summer of 2013 as Joe and Megan Churchman meticulously restored the old South Pacific flower shop on Rehoboth Avenue, adding a huge professional kitchen to serve their fine-dining venue, Bramble & Brine. (Click here to make reservations through Open Table!) It was a massive undertaking, but it's done, and fortunate early adopters (none the least of which myself) are already reaping the rewards. Whippin' up vittles is not new to Joe Churchman. Joe cooked not only at Eden, JAM Bistro, Planet X and Venus on the Half Shell, but he also honed much of his Abruzzese culinary style at none other than Le Virtù in Philadelphia. He was also the opening chef at the now long-gone Luca in Millsboro.
Megan is the proprietor of the tiny but elegant
I have to admit that I was concerned when spice maven and entrepreneur Joy Quinn opened her third Spice & Tea Exchange store just steps from the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk (the others are in Annapolis, Md. and Alexandria, Va.). After all, that is the high-rent district, and I wondered whether the taffy/cheesesteak/fries/corndog crowd would embrace a sort of upscale foodie specialty shop.
Boy was I wrong! As one of the esteemed tour guides for EatingRehoboth.com food tours, I get to roam the streets of Rehoboth Beach even more than I usually do. And every time I lead a crowd of Eating Rehoboth guests into Spice and Tea Exchange, the place is
Years ago when I haunted the southern hinterlands (well, Bethany Beach), I used to enjoy chatting-up the energetic busboy at a long-gone Bethany restaurant across from Sea Colony. He always knew what was going on, and usually had more information about the eatery and the menu than the servers (and the owners, for sure). It wasn't until a few of years ago that I recognized that young whippersnapper at Port Dewey. He wasn't 17 -- or bussing tables -- any more. He was one of the owners, along with his uncle Mitch King. Of course, being an owner doesn't mean that you don't bus tables (ask any owner).
If there's such thing as a savant in the
If you go to Papa Grande's Coastal Taqueria in Fenwick Island expecting a typical Mexican restaurant, you will be surprised. But I don't think you will be disappointed. I love Tex-Mex burritos, chili, enchiladas and tacos as much as the next guy (especially with a frozen margarita), but Papa Grande's is not your typical TexMex joint. It's a step up. Matt Haley and Corporate Chef Doug Ruley spent a lot of time in the Southwest and Mexico looking for unusual recipes at street carts, food vendors and tiny carryouts with their own way of doing things. Then, working with chefs from the Texas Culinary Institute of America, they adapted these traditional dishes to the needs and volume of a busy restaurant.
That menu is divided into
- Good Earth Market
- Rosenfeld's Jewish Deli
- The Pint
- Jerusalem International Grocery
- La Dolce Vita
- Edie Bees Confection Shop
- Sushi Heaven
- Surf Bagel
- Sunrise Restaurant
- Rose & Crown
- 14 Global
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- Kay's Kitchen
- Rusty Rudder
- Tomato Sunshine
- Pete's Steak Shop
- Creek Side Cafe
- Modern Mixture
- Shorebreak Lodge