The Only Constant: Change
Changes to the dining scene are less about openings of new restaurants and closings of old ones. They’re about seasoned pros doing new things. Here’s the dish.
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Michael DiBianca unveiled a new menu concept for his acclaimed Moro in Wilmington last fall, making the switch from new American to Mediterranean. He now prepares artful selections of pastas, seafood, salumi, and risotto while sourcing some of the best product around. Seafood comes from famed Philly fishmongers Samuel and Sons, and salami gets flown in overnight from Seattle’s Creminelli Fine Meats.
Another bona fide celebrity chef, Kevin Reading of Nage, got his newest project under way in Milford. Along with chef Ryan Cunningham, formerly of Bonz in Harrington, and fellow Nager Josh Grapski, Reading opened Abbott’s Grill in December. The family-friendly restaurant features down-home and affordable fare such as lobster pot pie, lamb shanks and slow-roasted pork loin with black-eyed peas.
The always-exciting culinary landscape of Rehoboth Beach continued to change. In the place of the former Partner’s Bistro on Rehoboth Avenue is Rigby’s Bar and Grill, a colorful and casual eatery with a nice-looking menu that includes buttermilk fried chicken thighs, braised Berkshire pork and succulent hanger steak.
One block over, Baltimore Avenue welcomed A Touch of Italy, a New York-style Italian deli, bakeshop and gourmet grocer. You’ll find house-smoked mozzarella courtesy of owner Lou Bascil, some great cured meats, cheeses, fresh bread, sandwiches, and more. Down the street is Hobos Restaurant + Bar, steered by owner and executive chef Gretchen Hanson. Hanson’s approach to healthy, global cuisine yields menu items such as couscous towers with garlic, spinach and tomato, and quinoa salad with ginger salsa.
Nearby, Salt Air dazzled in its first season. A venture of Jonathan Spivak and Nino Mancari, who teamed up years ago at Sedona in Bethany Beach, Salt Air bills itself as a Delaware beach picnic, combining some of the best local ingredients and culinary traditions in interesting ways—then mixing in an airy decor complete with hanging beach towels. For proof, try the Chincoteague salt oysters, line-caught rockfish or roasted organic chicken.
Taqueria Moroleon, a much-beloved Kennett Square eatery that helped put upscale-casual Mexican cuisine on the map in this area, packed up and moved just outside Hockessin to Route 41 in Avondale, Pennslvania. Now housed in the former Il Giardino, Moroleon still produces authentic Mexican, from rustic sopas to sizzling skirt steaks.
Walter’s Steakhouse, the oldest of its breed in Wilmington, is sometimes accused of being too old-school, but lately, the place has packed in throngs of young folks with a theme party straight out of 1930s Chicago. Speakeasy nights each month transform Walter’s into a Prohibition-era hootenanny, replete with period costumes, secret passwords, drink specials and more.
Restaurateur Carl Georigi has been on quite a roll. The head of the Platinum Dining Group saw rapturous response to his newest spot, Wilmington’s upscale-casual Capers and Lemons, then followed up by being named Restaurateur of the Year by the Delaware Restaurant Association. This month he’ll put his hot streak to the test when he transforms his Dome Restaurant in Lantana Square in Hockessin into Redfire Grill + Steakhouse, a contemporary steakhouse that will stress affordable, family-friendly cuisine.
Times may be tough, but that hasn’t stopped restaurants from opening, re-opening, re-imagining and re-inventing. And we eager diners couldn’t be happier with the hubbub.
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