Frank & Louie’s Italian Specialties

/ Updated on November 2, 2014

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 fewItalian wedding cookies and maybe an emergency cream puff or two. Or three.

Diane’s affable sons, Frank & Louie, made friends with a gregarious and energetic builder/developer from The Bronx named Bob Ciprietti. Louie and Bob became buddies, and Ciprietti would trek up to New York, fill his SUV full of Italian meats and cheeses (including still-warm handmade mozzarella) and throw Sunday Suppers for their friends in and around Sea Colony. By the way, the tiny barber shop next door was owned and operated by Frank & Louie’s dad, Frank Bascio.

Ciprietti loved the concept and saw the potential in Touch of Italy, so he bankrolled the Bascio’s move onto Baltimore Avenue in downtown Rehoboth Beach. This is where it gets sticky (and I’m not referring to the buns). As is so often the case when friends go into business together, expectations change. In the heat of the excitement and anticipation, Ts are not crossed and Is are not dotted. Due diligence and careful business practices can be overlooked. The strong emotions that accompany friendship have no place in business, but unfortunately, like it or not, the feelings are there and they can cloud the objectivity required to create an effective business partnership.

No, you’re not getting it all out of me, because I consider Bob Ciprietti and Frank & Louie Bascio as friends. Suffice it to say that three passionate guys, all with vowels at the end of their names, were, and still are, VERY emotional about their Italian heritage, the concept of family, and all the food traditions and issues that go with that. Feelings were hurt, liberties were taken, feathers were ruffled, and, inevitably, one thing led to another. Though it will always be a sore spot for the three former buddies, I maintain that Rehoboth Beach is all the better for it. Because now, not only do we have the expanded Touch of Italy restaurant chain that Ciprietti envisioned, but we also have the terminally charming and always friendly Frank & Louie’s Italian Specialties shop that opened in that little teal building at 58 Baltimore Avenue in March, 2013. You can always count on a giant smile, a bear hug and if you’re lucky, a tasty cookie shoved into your hand. You can’t help but like these guys.

The tiny space is packed to the ceiling with dry pastas including raviolini (teeny ravioli) and pasta nests ready to be tossed into boiling water. Canned and bagged specialty foods, sauces, oils, vinegars and spices line the walls. But the focal point is the monolithic wall of jam-packed deli cases that define the center of the room. Italian meats and cheeses hang from the ceiling, and are available, hand-cut, from the refrigerated displays.

The holy grail at Frank & Louie’s is the Ciabatta Hero; the menu is scrawled on the blackboard. A hero is another word for “sub” or “hoagie” or “grinder.”  (NOTE: These are not synonyms! The names are steeped in regional differences and mean different things in different parts of the country. To illustrate: If you ask for a “hoagie” anywhere other than in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you will be met with a blank stare and may be asked to vacate the premises. It’s like ordering a pastrami on white bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo at Carnegie Deli in New York. It’s just not done.)

My favorite is a tossup between the #1 “Tiny Dancer” (caprese salad on a roll) and the #3 Sal Special (a medley of thin-sliced Italian meats paired with sharp provolone). Each and every sandwich is drizzled with dark and fruity olive oil. I ask for an additional drizzle of acidic, yet sweet balsamic. (Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.)

Of course the cookies and pastries are still there, along with prepared foods like chicken cutlets, meatballs, risotto balls (think traditional arancini, but a bit creamier), lasagne and a thinly layered eggplant parm. It’s all there and it’s all Italian. Summer patrons stream into Frank & Louie’s for the prepared entrees that they can simply heat up in their condos or rental cottages. And don’t forget the wedding cookies and ricotta cookies!

Frank & Louie’s Italian Specialties is located on Baltimore Avenue in a tiny, teal building with black awnings just a few doors east of Second St. It’s immediately to the right of Hobos restaurant and directly across from Aqua Grill. There is no seating other than a couple of little bistro tables out front. They are a hot ticket during weekend lunchtime. Off-season hours vary, but in-season they are open every day. Call to make sure: 302-227-5777.

Take a look at their Facebook page here. (L, D. No alcohol) Price range: Moderate.

The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Mike N. says:

    We love your article and we love both places. RB is better off with Frank & Louie and Touch of Italy. Thank you for not forgetting Frank and Louie.

  2. Tom Napier-Collins says:

    I LOVE these boyz! They have always treated myself and guest of the Rehoboth Guest House as “long lost relatives”! My Goddaughter had them cater her wedding at the Guest House and they won rave reviews. Keep up the great work Frank and Louie and don’t forget to hug Momma for me!

  3. Chuck and Terri says:

    Glenn- we couldn’t have said it better!!

  4. Glenn M. says:

    It’s about time somebody told it like it is. We like both places, and these are all talented and passionate people. It’s too darn bad they had a falling out. Foodie, your treatement of that “sticky” situation was respectful and courteous to everyone concerned. We suspect you know more than you are saying, but you are to be congratulated for your gentle touch.

  5. Cindy, a Foodie Facebook Fan says:

    Very well worded! And great review for Frank and Louie!

  6. T&T says:

    Well, foodie it’s about time. We know you like Touch of Italy, and we hoped you are objective enough to also like Frank & Louie’s. We are proud of you.
    [Uh, T&T – I’ve ALWAYS liked Frank & Louie. It just took me a while to get this posted. –RF]

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