The Restaurant Issue: 96 Favorites
In our tiny state, 96 restaurants may seem like a lot, so let’s put this in perspective: The Delaware Restaurant Association counts 1,900 members, everything from pizza joints to Zagat-listed classics. How do we choose 96? Editors considered the atmosphere, novelty, quality of cuisine, reputation, longevity, wine program, service and value at 200 top-tier restaurants (plus a few just over the state line), including past Best of Delaware winners. We didn’t include every neighborhood tavern—we’ll get to them in another issue—nor every neighborhood Italian place. (Find them at www.delawaretoday.com/Delaware-Today/February-2008/Dining-Guide-World-Class/.) Left standing: a diverse roster of places you simply must visit—if you haven’t already.
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Union City Grille
An ambitious owner-chef duo injected new life into a stagnating steakhouse with weekly events and wine dinners, fresh-made pastas and, yes, darn good steaks. Matt Curtis and Robert Lhulier, both Deep Blue alumni, have brought imagination to a menu that is still rustic and recognizable. Sublime chili is made with braised short ribs. Lamb chops get a dose of balsamic gastrique. Gnocchi and fettuccine are made in-house. On Sundays, $2 buys you an ounce of filet mignon. Pony up $4 for two ounces. 805 N. Union St., Wilmington, 654-9780
Vallé Cucina Italiana
Vallé has come a long, long way from its humble beginning as a pizza place. Its meaty, well-seasoned crab cakes deserve all the praise that is heaped upon them. Other favorites verge on decadence, such as the char-grilled filet topped with Brie and baked in puff pastry. The Italian gumbo with orzo is a heartwarming dish for any winter night. And don’t forget the pasta. A diverse wine list shows why Vallé earned its Wine Spectator award of excellence. 4752 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 998-9999
Victorian decor in progressive Rehoboth? Victoria’s pulls it off with ease with the leather chairs, rich woods and just enough gingerbread. Try the cream of crab soup, then go with any of the big, brazen and beautiful entrées like Dogfish-head braised chicken, grilled filet or roasted pork belly. Sunday brunch beneath the outdoor trellises is unbeatable, and the normally early-bird-only $29 three-course meal extends all night. Many folks make Victoria’s their last stop for dessert and a nightcap. Crème brûlée and cheesecake are top-notch. 2 Olive Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-0615
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