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Grotto Pizza

/ Updated on July 12, 2014

Like many who now live here full-time, I've been coming to Rehoboth Beach for a long time. I was a long-haired rock ‘n' roller playing full-time in Ocean City in the late '60s, and my bandmates and I subsisted on Grotto Pizza. Indeed, it was founded on Rehoboth Avenue in 1960 during a time when most people had no idea what the heck a pizza was. If the in-season lines are any indication, this is no longer a problem.

Grotto has grown over the years, with well over 25 locations (as of this writing) in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. I am sad to say that as the ownership and management has decentralized, consistency of product has suffered somewhat. I almost feel like a heretic, but I've experienced it too often, as have many locals and part-timers alike (post your thoughts below, whether you agree or disagree). I've had pizzas come out of the kitchen partially cooked, or even burned — and they brought them to the table anyway! The servers at the front counter are often in such a hurry that they reach in and take the single slices out of the conveyor oven before they've had a chance to fully warm up. That “legendary taste” ends up being limp and lukewarm.

I'm here to tell you that the Grotto pie is delicious when it's prepared properly. And I remember those days. The sauce is placed over top of the cheese for a distinctive flavor and mouth feel. When cooked all the way through, the crust is crispy and buttery with a nice bready “pull” to it. It is one of the few pizzas I have ever had that is as delicious plain as it is with toppings. Properly (note the italics) reheated, the slices are almost as good as the fresh pies. Many a late night in the off-season I would stop at Grotto for a midnight “slice.” The taste still brings back those memories. But today's inconsistencies are a disappointment.

Grotto Pizza has good hamburgers and pretty good Buffalo Wings. We often get a salad and wings to start, and have shared the table with people who have enjoyed the other Italian dishes including the Chicken Parmesan, the “Grotto-bolis” (basically a pizza folded over onto itself and baked), and the plain old spaghetti and meatballs. They all share the “legendary” taste of that good red sauce. In the '60s, '70s and part of the '80s, every pizza that came out of the ovens on Rehoboth Avenue was virtually perfect. I'd order it crispy and “well-done,” and it would come out right every time. You could predict exactly how it would look and taste (a cardinal rule for any successful establishment).

I still stop for a slice for time to time, because when it's right, it's really right. Interestingly enough (I don't know whether it's management or whatever), the South Boardwalk location (opened in 1963 and including the busy Papajohn's Beach Bar), maintains a better consistency rating (at least when I've been there). I still take visiting friends into that location, and feel confident that the product (especially the whole pies) and/or service will not disappoint. There's also a great view of the boardwalk and the ocean.

When it's made right, it's great pizza. So Your Foodie says unto you: Be picky and hold them to their self-professed standard! If it's not right, do them a favor and tell them so. If it IS right, tell them too. I can't believe that these occasional problems are “on purpose.” Decentralization and expansion often results in poor training and management, and hopefully your comments will get them back to their roots when every pie was a masterpiece. They tout “that legendary taste,” and they should deliver it, every pie, every time.

The main location is at 36 Rehoboth Avenue, south side, on the ocean block. If you're bringing in a big party (or want to double-check their hours), call (302) 227-3278. The waits in the summer at that location can be quite long, but it's fun sitting out front on the benches, watching the beachy rabble and browsing the little stores in Penny Lane. My favorite location is South Boardwalk at 17 Surf Avenue (302) 227-3601. Click here for the complete menu at Grotto. (L., D., Bar) 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)

36 Rehoboth Avenue


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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. Avatar William Byron says:

    I never go to any of the Grotto’s unless there’s a wait at Nicola or something but I don’t mean to disparage Grotto, I think I probably have a bias as I equate it with a very frat-ish location around the University of Delaware and it seemed more of a “franchise” place to me as a teenager as opposed to Nicola and Louie’s.

    Serious question Mr. Foodie: you reference going there in your touring band days for a slice at midnight- this led me to wonder then: was that because Grotto was the only place open that late at the time?

    • The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

      That was probably the case. The band liked Pappy’s (at 1st and The Avenue) also, but they were not open late.

  2. Avatar Dick Elliott says:

    Ordered a 16 inch Margarita Pizza from Grotto Pizza this evening. No stars. It was terrible. No green evidence that basil ever touched this pizza and there was no basil flavor.
    Bore zero resemblance to the photograph on the web site. Would have taken it back but traffic and no parking kept me from doing so. Avoid!

  3. Avatar Charlie G says:

    The Grotto was at one time my favorite restaurant for Spaghetti and Meatballs but with a recent change in the sauce has me looking for another place to hang out and I have found it near by in Lewes. How anyone can foul up marinara sauce to the point of serving it a pool of water is beyone me. Still not convinced that it is too late to go back to the way it was prepared in the past’

    • Avatar sheila townsend says:

      yes ~~ he is right new sauce is awful…..and I heard for a manager there it was changed to save $$$$
      we should all protest to bring the original sauce recipe back for the pizzas and sketti and meatballs…i’d pay more for it if brought back….e mail grotto corporate to bring back the sauce !

  4. Avatar Leslie Beall says:

    I’m surprised by all of the negative comments. We go to the Grottos on Long Neck and have always been very pleased with the pizza (or my favorite the spinach boli). About 3 years ago I had a personal size pizza there and the crust was definitely the frozen variety. I sent and email to Grottos and received a reply that it would not happen again, and a coupon for a free pizza. I would suggest giving the Long Neck location a try.

  5. Avatar Blase Prosperi says:

    Pizza is consistently fantastic but the location on the avenue and north boardwalk really do need renovations.

  6. Avatar Tina R. Kaufman says:

    I have had Grottos pizza and find it gross. I can’t believe they get away with calling it pizza. The quality is not there anymore.

  7. Avatar Barbara Teal says:

    I’ve been eating at Grotto’s since Dom was a teacher, it opened Memorial Day, closed on Labor Day and Rehoboth Ave was the only DE location. We all bought a large box of frozen ones and tried to make them last all winter. Like you, I love Grotto’s pizza when it’s good and not so much when it isn’t. The inconsistency is what’s doing them in. I’ve found that the Sports Bar on Route 1 seems to be more consistent in terms of quality. I agree that they are terribly overpriced.

  8. Avatar mary lou m says:

    on our last night in dewey beach my daughters and i took the “Foodie’s” advice and had the crab cakes from Woodies( they were great,but thats another comment)
    my husband and son-in-law felt like pizza. [we went to Grotto], well they would have been better off buying a frozen pizza,they originally ordered a large and was told it was $24 dollars,$24 dollars for a take out pizza? my husband was told on the phone they had a “regular” size, so he thought that maybe the large was really big so he ordered the “regular” size. well he came home with a pizza that was the size of a small frozen pizza for $19. i dont care about spending money for good restaurant food but this was the biggest ripoff and it wasn’t even good, it tasted like all of those pizza chains with the frozen crust and gross sauce YUCK. if you are at the beach and feel like pizza at least try a real pizzeria, we are sorry we didnt but we always saw the GROTTO name,dont go!

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