Overall Food Service Noise Bathrooms Value

Villa Sorrento

/ Updated on June 22, 2016
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Click here to listen to owner Mara DePace interviewed on Sip & Bite with the Rehoboth Foodie. And she’ll sing for you too!

Owner Mara DePace’s childhood memories of Sunday Italian dinners with family and friends inspired her to go into the restaurant business over 27 years ago. Villa Sorrento in Lewes is a friendly crowded spot that is testament to her love for food and fun (more about that later). Tucked-away directly across from the Walgreen’s on Savannah Road just past the Villages of Five Points, this is good, basic Italian with burgers, cheesesteaks and parm sandwiches for lunch, plus all the required Italian main courses for dinner.

My latest visit was with a party of 10. I started with the Chopped Antipasto Salad. I cannot tell a lie: It was cool, crispy and loaded with Italian meats and cheeses. Everything was chopped to the same size (making it easy to deal with it fork-wise). If you’re looking for the quintessential “big salad,” this is it. I get it every time I go.

Another in our party had the Caesar Salad and she loved it, with the sharp and cheesy Pecorino/Romano topping apparently sealing the deal. I have to say that another member of our party found the dressing to be too sweet. Each to his own. My preferred dining companion started with the Italian Wedding Soup, loaded with happy little meatballs and noodles. The bowl was spotless upon its removal. ‘Nuff said.

For dinner, that same culinary cohort ordered “Tony’s Favorite,” a veal scallopini dish loaded with shrimp and crabmeat in a light brown sauce. It was one of the stars of the show, and was pronounced delicious (I tried some, and it was). The other star of the show was the Stuffed Shells, four or five large shells bursting with ricotta and mozzarella and topped with light marinara. I have to trust the person who ordered the shells: First of all, his name is “Tony” for goodness sake, and second, he could very well qualify as a Foodie in his own right. He gets the shells every time he’s at Villa Sorrento.

One of the stars of the show is indeed the Veal Marsala (with wild mushrooms and a golden brown Marsala wine sauce). It is perfect every time. A vegetarian member of our group chowed down on the Lasagnette Con Spinaci Al Forno. The generously portioned dish was covered in creamy mozzarella, and there had to be a half-pound of spinach in the thing. Veggie-heads (and carnivores alike) will not leave hungry.

The Chicken (and veal) Francais is another tasty standby, served with artichokes. Perfectly battered and fried scallopines are topped with a light wine sauce. As easy on the eyes as it is on the tummy.

The Stuffed Shells are yet another Villa Sorrento go-to dish. Filled with showy white ricotta, they are topped with a thin layer of mozzarella and their not-too-heavy marinara.

UPDATE: It’s winter, 2015 and we’re back again to see how Mara is doing. We had her signature linguini pescatore for the first time, and it is delicious. It can be ordered with red sauce (like a cioppino) or with a wine/butter sauce. The pizza is now nicely done (I order pizzas well done anyway), and I said it above, but I’ll say it again: Order the Chopped Antipasto Salad. The chopped version costs a little more, but it’s well worth it. The house Italian dressing is OK, but a little bland for my taste. I much prefer their bright and acidic balsamic dressing. Loaded with spices, it works perfectly on the antipasto.

One of my favorites at Villa Sorrento is the Chicken Parm. It’s simple and uncomplicated. The chicken is pounded to the perfect thickness, and then baked with marinara and mozzarella. I suggest passing on the pasta accompaniment (nothing all that special) and maybe getting something else on the side.

I’m adding to this article in late spring 2014, and Villa Sorrento is still turning out great “red sauce Italian” in Lewes. We’ve tried the Chicken Saltimbocca (a sauteed chicken breast layered with fresh sage, prosciutto and mushrooms, then topped with that wine sauce and perched atop a bed of bright green sauteed spinach) and the Veal Parmesan, layered with creamy cheese and their light (not too thick, not too sweet) marinara. The lemony Chicken Francaise (we ordered it yet again) was also thin and lean, prepared with a light egg batter.

Speaking of food and fun, be on guard for Mara to burst into song without warning! It could be anything from Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” to Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” (you know, the one about the bullfrog), or even an aria from some opera, oratorio or cantata. When she’s not slingin’ pasta, she is a good singer! It’s not unusual for everybody (properly lubricated with alcohol, to be sure) to join in. This crowded, noisy little place is warm and friendly and you will not leave hungry.

We went in there last night with a group of 4. We started with the Shrimp Palermo appetizer special (broccoli rabe with shrimp). It was bright green, firm and the restrained spice didn’t upstage the shrimp. For entrees, one member took Tony’s advice (yes, the same Tony, see above) and had the stuffed shells. He loved ’em. But the star of the show was the Fettuccini Carbonara. The surprisingly light Parmesan/cream sauce, combined with bits of fried pancetta and bacon (throw in a few peas, too) topped the al dente fettuccini very nicely.

One of my favorite Foodies-in-Waiting had the Chicken Piccata. The little breast pieces were pounded appetizingly thin, and the golden coating was flavorful and not bready. She pronounced it fresh and lemony (I’d better watch out…she’s getting good at this stuff). I had that big chopped salad (told you so…), though I wish Mara would pair it with a not-so-ordinary dressing (or at least offer a choice).

I have to tell you this: At the peak of the evening (the place was packed), Mara began to sing an Italian ballad for a very old lady who might have been a relative. After a few lines, people began to take notice and it wasn’t long before the entire restaurant fell into silence as her trained voice filled the room. Other than the sounds of the kitchen, you could have heard a pin drop. When Mara finished, applause rang out. It was the perfect musical touch for a tasty evening.

Villa Sorrento is open every day except Monday. They also have off-season specials (check the Specials List on this site), and they do take reservations (302) 644-7051. See Villa Sorrento’s menu by clicking here. (L., D.) Price range: Moderate.

Off-season Specials & Hours

Specials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.

pp = per person.
BOGO = buy one, get one.
Bloody = bloody mary.
domestics = American-made beers (e.g., Bud).
imports = foreign beers (e.g., Heineken).
Rails = non call-brand alcohol.
Prix Fixe = one set price.
Mains = entrees.
Margs = margaritas.
Chix = chicken.
AYCE = all you can eat.
Lite = Miller Lite
drafts = draught beer.
Early Birds = arrive before a certain time.
Apps = Appetizers.
bottles = beer in a bottle.
à la carte = order off the menu (no prix fixe).
crafts = micro/artisanal brews (e.g., Old Leghumper Lager)

1549 Savannah Rd. in Lewes
(302) 644-7052

 

Sunday
Open 3-10

Nightly dinner specials vary.
Call for details
5:30 Early Birds 10% off
Monday
Open 4-10 in-season
Tuesday
Lunch 11-2
2 slices pizza & a soft drink only $4.99

Dinner 4-10
Nightly dinner specials vary.
Call for details
5:30 Early Birds 10% off
Wednesday
Lunch 11-2
2 slices pizza & a soft drink only $4.99
Dinner 4-10
Nightly dinner specials vary.
Call for details
5:30 Early Birds 10% off
Thursday
Lunch 11-2
2 slices pizza & a soft drink only $4.99
Dinner 4-10
Nightly dinner specials vary.
Call for details
5:30 Early Birds 10% off
Friday
Lunch 11-2
2 slices pizza & a soft drink only $4.99
Dinner 4-10
Nightly dinner specials vary.
Call for details
5:30 Early Birds 10% off
Saturday
Open 3-10
Nightly dinner specials vary.
Call for details
5:30 Early Birds 10% off
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. Charles and Tim says:

    Found this delilghtful place through friends and have been back for their exceptional food ever since. It is always a treat to find a place that you like nearby. Never disappointed in their sauces, just like Momma used to make and she was a marvelous cook. I know Italian when it comes to Marinara and it’s the best in the area.

  2. Kevin says:

    We love Mara’s cozy, unpretentious little place. After we close the store on a Saturday night, there’s nothing better or quicker (than waiting in long lines in town or on the highway) than her veal marsala or lasagna to fill your tummy. This is basic, rustic, down home, good Italian food. And it’s not overpriced!

  3. Margie Forester says:

    Does good food allow the staff and/or owners a pass on rude behavior and general bad manners? We genuinely enjoy the food at Villa Sorrento. However, it appears to be a crap shoot as to the mood of the owner on any given night. I recently ordered takeout and when I called to place the order, she was just shy of verbally taking my head off because I had the audacity to ask if dinner bread and butter would be included in the pickup order. This is not the first time we have (for reasons unknown) annoyed this woman and we have heard her dish it out to other customers, as well.
    I don’t know… but I’m inclined to think I can spend good money on good food elsewhere and not worry about putting up with the nasty attitude.

  4. Patty Craig says:

    My husband Bill and I visited Villa Sorrento and we loved it there. We were seated quickly by Mara herself. Our dinner was fantastic and I loved the homemade bread. My husband and I did not talk through the meal only made yummy sounds now and then. The best restaurant in Lewes, bar none! We also were lucky enough to hear her beautiful angelic voice that should be on a stage or she should do a cd so we can enjoy her lovely voice anytime. God bless you Mara!

  5. Kae Lynn says:

    I went to Villa Sorrento this past Saturday night. Except for them not having our reservations down, the evening was wonderful. They did seat us quickly after the mix up. The service was very good, warm bread, good wine and the atmosphere with Mara singing was a plus. I had the linguni with scallops and white clam sauce, I wanted to lick the bowl. The ice cream dessert, I forget the name of it, was like a happy ending to a great dinner.

  6. Judith Jester says:

    The is one of the few restaurants that knows how to make linguini with clam sauce. My husband orders the white and I order the red. Both are fantastic!!

  7. L. Bixby says:

    Villa Sorrento is n excellent family restaurant forr dining in or out…the food homemade gravy, best balsemic vinagrette, friendly service, and sometimes even a show.

  8. Leslie Beall says:

    I’d like to add one more comment about Villa Sorrento. The service there including the hostess, waitress and busboy was excellent! The best we’ve received in this area for a long time.

  9. Leslie Beall says:

    We went to Villa Sorrento last night. On the advice from the RehoFoodie I had Tony’s Special. I was served 4 pieces of veal pounded very thin (too thin in my opinion), with 4 shrimp, and about a tablespoon of “special” crab meat on each piece of veal. The brown sauce was tasty – but very salty. So much so I didn’t want to eat the last piece of veal. I think for the price ($24.99 I believe), the dish should have had more and better quality crab meat. There really wasn’t much veal on the plate as it was pounded so thin. My husband had the veal parm and said it was very good. I won’t be getting the Tony Special again. On the good side – they served ample warm bread, a nice dish of good parm for you to add yourself, the appetizer was good, the tiramisu was great, the wine was good and reasonably priced. I topped it off with sambuca and it was a generous amount w/ coffee beans. I’m wondering if Tuesday is a bad day there – or has anyone else had the special and was disappointed.

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