Tonya and Francesco Agostino's new Azzurro Italian Oven and Bar is up and running in the old Chez la Mer / Papa Grande's location at 210 Second St. at Wilmington Ave. in Rehoboth. The very first thing that will strike you is the massive redecoration job they did to open up and brighten that formerly dark building. Light white and gray tiles grace the white walls, and a generally uncluttered and austere look sets that restaurant apart from its predecessors.
CLICK HERE to listen to Tonya & Francesco on the May 5th, 2018 Sip & Bite Show.
The Agostino family owns a number of restaurants in Europe, and have brought some of those concepts to Rehoboth, including the Italian tradition of Aperitivo – a small plate delivered alongside before-dinner cocktails. The menu will provide traditional rustic Italian goodies, and there will even be a little post-dinner surprise! (I don't want to give everything away!)
2018 was a very busy summer, and it took me forever to get in there, but I had had some tastes here and there on the EatingRehoboth.com restaurant tours and knew I was in for a happy experience. For example, do not miss the Caesar salad. The image in the gallery (take a leisurely scroll through) is the split version – so the full portion certainly qualifies as Elaine Benes' famous “big salad”. This ain't yo'mamma's Caesar, so you are in for some surprises.
The feature image for this article is Chef Fran Agostino's paella. Beautifully presented, it is a panoply of mussels, clams, happy little crawfish, etc., etc. The denouement is the delicious rice at the bottom of the platter. It has had time to absorb all the flavors and it is simply amazing. I'm not sure if this particular presentation is the same as on the menu, but the ingredients certainly will be the same. It's a great dish to split as an appetizer.
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Another little bite I had on the EatingRehoboth tours was the lasagne. It's my go-to dish for any new Italian joint in which I happen to find myself. Let's face it: If they can't do that, they can't do anything. The Rehoboth Foodie is here to tell you that they certainly CAN do that. It stands tall and proud on the plate, and is full of flavor. It even has a tiny bit of heat that makes for a great mouth feel for the deeply savory meat sauce. Regulars here at RF know I have my favorite lasagnes in town (two to be exact). Azzurro's lasagne makes it three.
Take a look at the gallery for more photos!
Since it took me so long to get my rather ample butt into that place, I had a chance to peruse many emails that kind people send to me containing their impressions of a new place. Other than a few new-opening missteps (ALWAYS in a brand new restaurant), the feedback has been overwhelmingly good. And many of these emails waxed rhapsodic over the Branzino al Cartoccio platter. A salt-crusted whole branzino lounges happily in a mix of cherry tomatoes, white wine with lemon, shallots and parsley. This one's a winner. My accompanying foodie chose to order it filleted, which sort of loses the salt crust effect, but it was still light and lemony. If you are OK with your food looking back at you, I suggest you order it whole. It's easy to start it down.
I have several more visits on the books to bring you more photos, etc., so check back often. I need to catch up with everyone else who's been there already.
See more at AzzurroRehoboth.com. Give 'em a call to check hours, etc. at 302-212-2409