A Welcome Return
The long-awaited rebirth of the venerable Columbus Inn has finally happened, leading a scene full of changes in the restaurant world. Here’s a taste.
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From restaurateurs Eric and Norman Sugrue, masters of casual, family-friendly hotspots like Big Fish Grill and Summer House, came FireStone Roasting House (110 S. West St., Wilmington, 658-6626). The restaurant opened in the spring in the Wilmington Riverfront spot formerly occupied by C.W. Harborside. FireStone looks to augment the favorable nightspot location—Harborside was famous for a large patio bar that overlooked the river—with an open kitchen and tasty pizzas prepared in a brick oven.
A vibrant nightlife scene is another goal, with live entertainment from bands, DJs and dancing, plus happy hours featuring a five-dollar menu and signature drinks such as the citrus-infused Firewater cocktail. Out of the brick oven, hot and bubbly, are craft pizzas, like one topped with chicken chunks, mushrooms and truffle oil. Other menu highlights include roasted prime rib, Hawaiian ribeye marinated in soy sauce and ginger, and juicy housemade burgers.
Indeed, craft pizza places have taken the town by storm. Earlier this year, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a Florida-based boutique chain partially owned by NFL great Dan Marino, opened in Market Square Shopping Center in North Wilmington. Anthony’s (5611 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 477-1488) is home to crispy, ever-so-slightly upscale pies such as sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella pizza, meatball and ricotta pizza, and arugula pizza, plus a few other coal-fired menu options like rosemary-sprinkled chicken wings and focaccia sandwiches.
From-scratch pizzas made with Belgian yeast are part of the menu at Chelsea Tavern (821 N. Market St., Wilmington, 482-3333). The new tavern—a joint venture of restaurateurs Joe Van Horn and Scott Morrison with chef Sean McNeice—took over the spot once occupied by Restaurant 821. With a chef who’s obsessed with doing everything from scratch using fresh, local and seasonal products (think cured meats from local Maiale Salumeria, goat cheese from Lancaster and dough for pierogi made by hand), and great attention to craft beers and wines, Chelsea looks to nail the upscale-casual tavern concept.
Pizza wasn’t the only blue-collar food receiving a call-up to the culinary major leagues. El Diablo Burritos (Delaware Avenue, 13A Trolley Square Shopping Center, Wilmington, 691-5532) is a venture of business partners Roger Andrews and Dean Vilone. The pair come from high-end dining backgrounds, and their build-your-own burrito joint inside a former dry-cleaner’s space does plump burritos filled with ingredients such as braised short-rib, citrus-marinated pork, lime-grilled steak and Kennett Square mushrooms. On nice afternoons in the summertime, lines of customers regularly spilled out onto the sidewalk. Outdoor tables became available in May.
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