Olive oils take center stage at Hobos, drinking bubbly for a good cause at Union City, and Greenville strikes down yet another Italian restaurant.
Closing: Ristorante Marco, the successful Bear restaurant run by gregarious owner Marco Rizzo, had such a strong following that it spawned a second location in Greenville during the summer of 2009. Slightly more upscale, the Greenville location looked to capture an audience in a location that had seen the demise of like-minded Italian spots Amalfi and Sapori Ristorante Italiano.
Ristorante Marco Greenville can now be added to the list. The lights went dark and the phone was disconnected last week. A call to Marco was not immediately returned. I'll await word from Marco himself for more details. It appears that the Bear location is still up and running.
***UPDATE*** Just received confirmation from chef Marco that the Greenville location is indeed closed after what he described as some unfortunate issues with the landlord. "It's a delicate situation," he says. "And there were some other unfortunate reasons" for closing.
Customer support, he added, wasn't quite where he needed it to be, and the trek between Greenville and his flagship Bear location had become a strain. But Greenville's loss is perhaps Bear's gain, as Rizzo says he'll now be free to concentrate his exceptional skills as both a chef and a host on customers of his Pulaski Highway restaurant.
"If you have one bad tooth, you get rid of it before it infects the others," he says. "By concentrating on the Bear location I can treat my customers there the way I've always wanted to treat them. They'll see more of my face there and it will be a pleasure to greet them all again."
Rizzo opened the Greenville location in 2009 at the behest of many upstate regulars who craved Marco's food and wine a bit closer to home. His reputation as a convivial and charming host earned him a "Most Gracious Host" Best of Delaware Award in 2009, and his sterling coastal Italian cuisine won him a "Best New Restaurant" BOD nod.
It is all-systems-go at Bear. The kitchen unveiled a new menu this week, he says. And his loyal customers no longer have to wonder where he will be from night to night.
In the meantime, we're left to wonder what Greenville has against Italian cuisine, a question pondered briefly in this DT Savor review, published last October.
A $35 reservation gets you a taste of more than 24 champagnes, cavas, spumantes, cremants, sparkling wines, and much more.
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The Riff: Hobos Restaurant + Bar
Mushroom duxelle toast points with porcini dust were accompanied by Badia a Coltibuono "Campo Corto" olive oil, a robust Italian classic oil likened Saturday to Luciano Pavarotti—commanding, moving, joyful, and deep in the heart. Domaine La Bastide Corbieres Rouge 2008 was the wine accompaniment.
Their faces scrunched, a few coughed, but most every person inside the dining room at Hobos Restaurant + Bar in Rehoboth Beach wore a smile.
The Saturday night extra virgin olive oil tasting dinner hit the spot on a frigid beach night, as Hobos chef-owner Gretchen Hanson joined Bill Sanders, an expert and distributor of fine, artisanal olive oils (and wines, vinegars and gourmet items) for a five-course meal.
On this night, Sanders’ treats were treated like fine wines. Diners in attendance sipped, smelled, swirled and swished small samples of EVOOs. On more than one occasion, the pungent, peppery aftertaste—caused by healthful polyphenols—led to a few coughing fits. Nothing a sip of wine couldn’t cure.
Hanson, the globetrotting former hippie (as well as professional life coach and hobo symbologist), incorporated Sanders’ olive oils cleverly into each dish. Wines, vinegars, salts and more—provided by Sanders—found their way into just about every dish. Here’s a photo recap:
The amazing salad above featured crispy, delicious hydroponic arugula grown by Small Wonder Farm in Clayton and house-infused truffle oil. Crispy fried sweet potato stick, shaved Pecorino and fresh oregano added to the mix. Badia a Coltibuono olive oil and Chateau Mourgues des Gres Costieres de Nimes Galets Rose accompanied. Fresh-tasting and fruity, the oil was one of the more cough-inducing of the evening.
"Gretchen is like the Soup Nazi," a waiter whispered to us. "She makes the best soups." The waiter was right. Hanson's roasted tomato basil soup (with an Asiago cheese touille) was a highlight. She roasted the tomatoes after coating them in Ravida EVOO, a medium-spicy oil recently ranked among the top 20 in the world by the Guida Flos Olei. Yannick Amirault Pavillon du Grand Cru Bourgueil La Coudraye was sipped with this dish.
Phyllo pastries stuffed with tangy Sicilian eggplant caponata sat atop a drizzle of punchy Fallot Burgundy Dijon mustard. Along with the pastry we sipped Frantoia EVOO, a versatile oil that's a favorite of celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Eric Ripert, and Domaine Soulanes "Kaya" Rousillon, a peppery red that matched the strength of the mustard.
Roasted pepper, fennel and white bean monkfish bouillabaisse got significant kick from Safinter saffron, considered one of the world's best, and Esprit del Sel, an unwashed gray salt procured from French salt bays. The pancetta-wrapped fish and boldly-flavored beans left a strong smoky taste—until a dish of house-made coconut gelato made the rounds. Oil from Tenuta del Numerouno and Clos de Jeu wine from Domaine Collotte Marsanny accompanied the fish. Villa Manodori Aceto balsamic vinegar was drizzled around the gelato—a sweet ending to a great evening.
Chef Gretchen says the Crush + Press dinners have been so successful, she's planning on a weekend's worth of dinners every two months. Keep your eyes here for updates on the next round.