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Touch of Italy (Rehoboth)

/ Updated on October 9, 2020

Touch of Italy on the Highway opened with great pomp & circumstance in mid-July 2013 in Shore Plaza, next door to Nage and directly across from Tanger Seaside Outlets. And in June 2014 the largest (so far) Touch of Italy opened in the Ocean City Holiday Inn at 67th and the ocean. That location and TOI On The Highway in Shore Plaza are similar to the installation in downtown Lewes, except that they're much (much!) bigger and can turn out a wider variety of dishes more efficiently. And the deli-bakery counter is almost 3 times as long.

One of my favorites at the regulation-size TOIs is the wood-fired pizza. No, my friends, it is not “burned!” Forget about that limp, tepid product that's passed through a window at Ray's in Manhattan. The pizza that pizza maven Biagio Lucci and his fellow piemen create in the almost 1000-degree oak-fueled clay chamber is puffy, surprisingly light and crunchy. The crust bubbles up from the intense heat, creating thin, air-filled voids that generate a sensation that's akin to the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Zipper at Trimper's at the Ocean City Inlet. The higher the bubble, the closer it is to the heat and the more it will char. The resulting “CRACKLE” is testament to the fresh, yeasty dough that is worked just long enough to ensure an elastic “pull” to every bite.

There's a wide variety of toppings, including broccoli rabe (rapini — more like turnip tops than broccoli), arugula, balsamic (yup — you heard it), prosciutto, ricotta, parma cotta ham and oil-cured black olives. My hands-down favorite is the sopressata, Italian sausage and mushroom pizza. The thin-sliced sopressata (sort of a thin salami resembling prosciutto, but firmer and more intense) crisps up quickly in concert with the spicy Italian sausage. Don't plan to eat again for a couple of days.

My preferred Foodie-at-Arms loves the broccoli rabe/fresh mozzarella-topped pie. It's call the Il Migliori. The stems of the vegetable have not been boiled to death, so they are still firm and perfectly to the tooth.

OK, I think I've made my point. Of course, where there's pizza, there's calzones and strombolis. Basically pizza turnovers, and they are also a wood-fired delight.

The TOI Bakery in Five Points turns out bread and baked goods around-the-clock not only for the three TOI stores, but also for other eateries and sandwich shops in town. The star item is the sub roll. The sub menu at TOI Rehoboth is very similar to that of TOI Lewes, including the Rocky Marciano (my favorite) with hot sopressata, sharp provolone, roasted peppers and olive oil (add a sprinkle of grated parm, ground cherry pepper flakes and a drizzle of balsamic — all available at the table). Other tasty sandwiches include the Don Orazio (named after the very same Orazio Carciotto who taught TOI mozzarella maven and all-around-nice-guy Mikey Berardinelli to create that creamy and slightly salty nectar of the gods), consisting of hot capicola ham, mozzarella, roasted peppers and the required olive oil, the Dante (grilled eggplant, olives, mushrooms, peppers, artichokes and provolone) and 17 others. The slightly firm, sesame seeded outside of the roll gives way to a light and eggy inside that soaks up the oils, vinegars and pepper juices, thus becoming an integral part of the sandwich experience. Try 'em all and zero-in on your favorite.

One of the stars of the appetizer show is the bocconcini wrapped in prosciutto and roasted with a hint of rosemary and olive oil. Chalk this one up to the quintessential bacon & cheese experience as the ovoid dollop of mozzarella softens as the prosciutto crisps up. Another must-get is the traditional Arancini, a ball of rice infused with mushrooms, peas and fontini (a hard aged Italian cheese), pan fried and served with a porcini cream sauce. Other tasty appetizers include an eggplant tower (this has become a big seller since they opened), pumpkin ravioli and mussels, just to name a few. Mama's Meatballs are also quite good; tender and rich with Italian spices. You can get them and the parms as subs too.

Man (or woman) cannot live by pizza alone! (I love those old proverbs.) One of the entree stars of the show at TOI III is the simple, straight-ahead and expertly pounded and cooked chicken parmesan, lovingly slathered with creamy melted muenster sidled up to a nest of tagliatelle pasta. Twice (twice, I tell you!) I have tried to get a photo of this dish for you, and TWICE it was attacked before I could even get the camera running. I will continue to try, though I fear I might lose a finger in the process. Mmmm … maybe a telephoto lens….

Touch of Italy is a great place to purchase otherwise hard-to-find cheeses. Each wheel or block is clearly marked as to the type of milk from which it was made and the country from which it was imported. Treat yourself to the clean, clearly marked, brightly lit cheese displays, especially at the Touch of Italy on Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach. Finally! A year-round reliable source for tasty cheeses.

Other entrees that have visited our table include the Orecchietti Pasta with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Garlic; hand-crafted Ravioli from Borgatti's on Arthur Avenue served simply with a Tomato-Basil marinara and a dollop of fresh Ricotta, and the unbelievably creamy Pollo Taleggio, topped with Prosciutto de Parma in a White Wine Herb Sauce. There are 10 other Primo and Secondo Piatti from which to choose. I have been witness to the post-prandial smiles they have generated.

Touch of Italy has added all sorts of new goodies to the menu. See the gallery for their new lasagne, meatballs/ricotta, pappardelle with shortrib ragout and more.

Of course, Touch of Italy started out as a bakery many years ago, so dessert is de rigueur. The eclairs, cream puffs and napoleons are filled with real egg custard (not that cheap whipped-cream nonsense some places dish-up to the philistines who don't know any better). The almond-infused cookies include little ping-pong ball-size rounds either plain or studded with nutty pignolis. The chocolate cream cheese cookie is … do I really need to describe it? The name says it all. And the macaroons can easily be popped into your waiting mouth with — or without — a dip in chocolate. Don't leave without trying the Italian Wedding Cookies.

It's difficult to see the end of the deli cases at the Rehoboth installation because of the curvature of the earth. But if you squint, you will see endless Italian meats, cheeses and confections all for the choosing, slicing, wrapping, or eating right there in front of everybody.

I really hate telling you this, as it's hard enough to get a seat there, but the bar is the place to be at Touch of Italy Rehoboth. The bartenders are all friendly and fun [say hi to Kymmr], and some of their specialty drinks are not to be missed; in particular the grapefruit crush.

Bob Ciprietti does pretty much everything first-class, and as both a builder and restaurateur, he has put a lot of himself into this location. The huge skylight (how did they get all that copper to verdigris in just a few weeks!?! Go, and see if you can figure it out…), the custom stained glass pieces (one of which has a real wine bottle soldered into the window) and the big, inviting communal tables all add up to a home run.

It's been a couple of years now, and I debated whether to keep this in, but decided to do it anyway: Around noon on TOI Rehoboth's first day in business, I was honored to join morning man Bulldog from Ocean 98.1 FM on the air during their live broadcast in the parking lot. As things wound down, I assumed my place at the bar and proceeded to stay until about 11 p.m.. The place was literally slammed with customers, and a great guitarist, Sergio, was strolling, strumming and singing amongst the tables. At one point, the entire room burst into song with him (I think it was “Volare”). Mind you, co-owner Bob Ciprietti had spent the last 6 months of his life, from early morning to late at night, nursing, coaxing and wrestling this restaurant to completion; and as the entire room raised their glasses and sang along with Sergio, I was watching Bob over in the back corner of the restaurant. I've never seen a smile as big.

Touch of Italy Rehoboth is located at 19724 Coastal Highway, in Shore Plaza, adjacent to Fork & Flask @ Nage, Hickman's Meats and Outlet Liquors and directly across from Chipotle Mexican Grill and Tanger Seaside Outlets.

If you time your visit carefully, you can even get your Oreck vacuum cleaner fixed as you buy Hot Stix from Bill and Will Hickman, grab a cocktail at F&F@Nage, and order a pizza to go (and those ricotta cookies!) at Touch of Italy. Check out the dinner menu here. Check out the lunch menu here. (302) 227-3900. Open 7 days until about 10. (L., D., Bar) Price Range: Moderate-. Click here to make reservations through OpenTable.com.

Why 5 stars overall? The ratings are not direct comparisons of one restaurant to another. That wouldn't make any sense, given that so many different types of restaurants are reviewed here. The rating is intended to tell you how well a restaurant delivers on what it claims to be, and how much consistent value it gives for the money spent. Up to this point, Touch of Italy has consistently fulfilled those requirements both in the food and service categories. That could always change, however, and I will continue to monitor the situation. Pass the grated parm, please….

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)

19724 Coastal Highway
in Shore Plaza in Rehoboth
(302) 227-3900

Open 10 - 9
Deli 10 - 9
Dining 4-9

Deli 10 - 9
Dining 4-9

Deli 10 - 9
Dining 4-9

Open 10 - 9
Open 10 - 9
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 Deanna Sciole says:

    Just to update you, when we called, Touch of Italy no longer has the chicken/eggplant special on Tuesday for off season. As of 5/10/22

  2. Avatar Nancy says:

    Some of my family and I visited little Italy in the plaza in Rehoboth on the eve of sept.28, 2019 . My adult daughter has allergies, told the waiter she could not have garlic, was highly allergic, she wanted a plain crust pizza with just shaved Parmesan, no sauce, and spinach.He commented to her pizza with sauce , garlic etc. she told him again she is allergic cannot have garlic. He brought her a pizza, she started to take a bite and knew it had garlic, she had to take it out of her mouth into a napkin..there was no spinach either. Motioned the waiter again explained the pizza he brought had garlic. She explained she told him she was allergic..he apologized said he thought she wanted garlic.we summoned another lady we presumed was a manager and she took pizza and brought her another one with no garlic and no spinach but he brought a bowl of spinach not included in the pizza. This could have been a serious situation with her allergies…when the bill came she was charged for the garlic pizza as well as the corrected one. We brought this to their attention and the wrong pizza was taken off the bill. Great food but situation was stressful.

  3. Avatar Virtual server says:

    This is now my favorite restaurant in Rehoboth. Huge portions! Great value! Fresh food. Everything on the menu is enough for two, so be aware. We had plenty to take home.

  4. Avatar Yummybear says:

    Thanksgiving weekend, Sat. night, I felt like something decadent for being so good during the feast days earlier. BAM! The heart wanted a white pizza. Now to decide which of the tons of local pizza shops to prepare my indulgence? Always love brick, wood heated ovens for the special crust so easy, TOI.

    Ordered the bianco, anticipating it’s cheese combo, evvo,herbs, etc. Also added anchovy topping so all in now, mouth watering. The car filled with aroma on drive home but the reveal was a huge let down. The crust was undercooked and not bubbled or brown. The cheese was dried out and looked to be all the same, where was the cheese sheen, where was the evoo? The anchovy and herbs were there but couldn’t save this rather tasteless pie. Frankly, had I been served this inhouse, I would have sent it back. By now I was home, in my house jammies with my movies already running, I would “Dr the S^%#” out of this and bake it some more.

    TOI I know has a wonderful reputation, it’s why I chose it as the provider for my special indulgence, the diet begins on Monday. I will try again another time because I believe in giving 2nd chances, everybody has off nights. But my expectations will be higher, much higher.

    • The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

      Hi, YB…
      TKS for your note. Sorry you had a bad experience with the TOI pizza. However, keep in mind that probably the last kind of pizza you want to allow to cool in a carryout situation is a wood-fired pizza. As the pie cools in the box, the moisture takes most if not all of the crunch out of the crust, and the pizza can easily become soggy and the cheese can “sweat,” which might account for the appearance of the cheese when you opened the box. Your idea to reheat it (I hope you had a nice hot pizza stone!) was a very good one, and if done at a high enough temperature (500F is about as high as a home oven can go) the pizza can at least be partially resurrected. That being said, it’s nice to see you back on the site again!

  5. Avatar Sherri Close says:

    This past Saturday (Sept. 20, 2014), I had a wonderful Italian eating experience! From the scrumptious variety on the antipasto plate (huge!) to the home made limoncello (like lemon meringue pie with a kick), perfectly topped and cooked pizza, yummy side of home made fresh pasta topped with the most delicious bolognese sauce ever, ending with the creamiest NY cheesecake that melts in your mouth, nothing could have been more perfect. The atmosphere was friendly, like eating with a big Italian family! The service was impeccable and our server was also very friendly and accommodating.

    This was by far one of the best eating experiences I have ever had! I will definitely be going back as often as possible!

  6. Avatar Wanda Clark says:

    This place speaks to me from every single detail, it speaks ITALIAN , it speaks family, pride, dedicated employees…it’s a feeling , it’s the pizzas brought out on pizza peels for authenticity, it’s the spoons in the condiments because you’ll never be left without enough, it’s the foodstuffs for sale that even though you are satisfied from your meal, there’s the privilege to take home a little something more you may like later.. It’s the openness of decor so that families and friends of different parties of customers mingle and partake of the best food together and with such energy and happiness and satisfaction flowing all throughout the restaurant…ITS A FEELING THERE… The food is absolutely incredible… I simple cannot WAIT to experience more of the food there… When you walk into this establishment you are transported into the whole ITALIAN RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE!!!

  7. Avatar Mike D. says:

    I was there two weeks ago for Sunday lunch and Saturday night for dinner. Both times I had the calamari and it was the best I have ever had. The Place was packed Saturday night, but Kimmer had the bar running smoothly despite the packed house. The food was excellent and the help was friendly and efficient. I think this place will be crowded to the gills when the season gets into full swing. I can’t wait for the Ocean City location to open.

  8. Avatar Barbara Teal says:

    I agree with you about the food – love it. However, I will not be back to this location – within walking distance of my house – due to the noise level. My 2 friends and I were shouting at each other across the table. I knew it was bad, but did not realize how bad it was, until we left. Walking outside to the welcome sound of silence was amazing. They really need to do something.

  9. Avatar Chris Katcher says:

    My husband and I love the ther locations and deli selections. We stopped by in august and I did the deli buy while my husband talked with the pizza chef and was impressed by the wood oven cooking. We decided to return the next night for dinner (pizza) and were totally disappointed with the service. I’m sure the pizza woild have been delicious if it had been served when ready and hot. This place needs to get it together for service, it ruins the good food.

  10. Avatar Pete H says:

    We’ve dined four times at the new Touch of Italy location on Route 1. The food has been consistently excellent, but the service has declined just as consistently with each successive visit. On our most recent visit, entrees were delivered before we finished our salads and the bus person checked on us more frequently than our server, who at the end of the evening litterally threw our check into the table with a thud. While we love the food, we also appreciate good service, and there are plenty of restaurants in the area that understand how to deliver both. If Touch of Italy doesn’t improve the quality and consistency of its service, we will gladly take our business elsewhere.

  11. Avatar Lynn says:

    Is it possible that the preparations have declined so quickly..? Had to call five times to place our carry out order. We started with the Bacconcini. In fairness, probably a poor carry-out choice. No crispiness to the prosciutto and the mozzarella was still a cold, hard ovoid. Inedibly salty. Chicken Parm was not bad, but unremarkable. Signature dish of Pesto Avellinesi promised “lemon basil pesto” but it was all balsamic vinegar, likely from the grilled portabello strips…any basil or nutty notes of the pesto were lost. I really wanted pesto, so it disappointed, but if you like balsamic… Finally, Mama’s Meatballs. I so wanted fluffy balls of italian herbs and melt away ground meat…I wanted to love these. But they were dense and unbelievably absent any flavor. Seriously, the most bland meatballs of recent memory. Rather surprising, seeing all the meatball love, here. If nothing else, get the meatballs right! All in all, the dinner fell far short of expectations.

  12. Avatar Debbie says:

    Ate there with a friend. After waiting 20 minutes for a table, we were finally seated. Unfortunately, our server had our table and one other that seated 14. Needless to say, the table of 14 got all of our servers attention, along with the owner who stopped by numerous times to their table but never even looked our way. We sat and watched other patrons be seated and immediately get bread. After watching this for 15 minutes, we finally asked if we could have bread. The noise level was terrible. Our eggplant appetizer was very small (two tiny pieces). Our entrees were OK (chicken parm. and pesto pasta), but what we were really looking forward to was a cannoli for dessert. Unfortunately, they did not have any. Very disappointed and not sure if I will return.

  13. Avatar Mel says:

    Had high expectations, food is great, but please fix the service at the bar. The servers are spending too much time talking to each other while we sit at the bar waiting … And waiting. Amp up the servers professionalism please.

  14. Avatar Leslie Beall says:

    Had dinner on Thursday with friends. I usually agree with you Foodie, but not this time. You gave the noise a 7.5. I would give it a 1. It was extremely noisy. I think the menu is somewhat limited and a bit overpriced for a plate of pasta. We started with Mama’s Meatballs ( 3 meatballs for $8.00). The meatballs were fine, but nothing special. I had the Ravioli, and again – nothing special for $16.00. Overall I would give the food and 8 and the dining experience a 2 because of the noise and the long wait for the food.

  15. Avatar Stephen Petersen says:

    We just ate there, and while the food was generally quite good, there was a major disconnect in the service and timing of the meal. Specifically, two in our party ordered pizzas for dinner, and the dinner service was much delayed (over half an hour after the appetizers were done). Meanwhile we noticed that the two pizzas had been cooked and were sitting outside the pizza oven. 15-20 minutes went by, and we asked if those were our pizzas sitting there. We were told (by the manager/owner on premises) that they were not ours. Then they were stuck back in the oven and served to us. Having lived in Italy we know that re-heated pizzas are not so cool, and they tasted like it. Also, we were not told the truth (blatantly). As we told our server (who kept apologizing for the delay) fresh pizza would have been a lot better than reheated pizza. That the distinction was lost on the cooks and management is a problem. We thought we’d be going back but after tonight are not so sure.

  16. Avatar Bonnie Cullen says:

    The Cullen’s are in the house , again , and again and I think about 6 times since they opened already . We love it all the food , the wine , the music , and the staff . Thanks Bobbie for our seats at the bar which I’m sure will have our names on there soon , can’t stay away !!

  17. Avatar Jay in PA says:

    Foodie! A rare 10! And you are spot on yet again (we are fans…). We spent last week in RB and ate at the new Touch three times. Had something different each time. Looking forward to returning in a couple of weeks. Great article.

  18. Avatar T&T says:

    My wife and I ate there last week and after we finally got a table (we waited about 20 minutes) our food was spectacular. This place is a lot more than a deli. My wife had the chicken parmesan (love the munster) and I had the mozzarella and black olive pizza. We split the caprese salad. We are fans of the Lewes one, but the parking is always a challenge. How nice to just drive up and park in the lot and get the same good dinner. It was also nice seeing Matty in Rehoboth, who is our regular waiter in Lewes.

  19. Avatar Always Hungry says:

    Foodie didn’t pay sufficient attention to Mama’s meatballs! Truly spectacular. I have eaten at some fine Italian restaurants, including Lidia Bastianich’s Becco in NYC, and these are right up there in quality. It’s always a painful dilemma to decide what to get at TOI, choosing among the pizza, the chicken parm, the pasta. So hard to decide. And you cannot miss the sweets, either. We’re very fortunate to have such a high quality red sauce Italian restaurant here in Rehoboth, and the newest location on Route 1 is delightful. Don’t miss it!

  20. Avatar Patrick says:

    I and my family (visiting from GA) ate there 5 days ago as of this writing and I am still in awe of the quality of the food and service we received. The entrees were amazing and the desserts were incomparable to any I ever had. You “LSD” people have a real 4 diamond quality experience there and you should be sure to enjoy it any chance you get. Bravo to Bob [Ciprietti] and his team. We will be back I promise.

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