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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Chef Cyrus Keefer is an artist at heart. He takes his quality ingredients and turns them into masterworks without sacrificing simplicity. Produce from Fifer Orchards and grower Bob Russell of Milton find their way into high-end plates. Wine director Christopher Capriotti steers an award-winning wine program. Eden features intimate curtained booths and a veranda that overlooks Baltimore Avenue. And there’s a new bar menu featuring blue-collar dishes with an Eden twist. Try a braised short rib Manwich or an open-faced meatball sandwich on house-made peasant bread. 23 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3330
Hip and upscale in a sort of neo-classic Philly way, Espuma is up there with the most intimate of Rehoboth’s top-tier restaurants. Exciting food in a relaxing environment is prepared by a chef who’s so skillful, you’d think he’d want to show off once in a while. He doesn’t. Go whenever artful revisions of classic flavor combinations (bacon and egg, duck and cherry, citrus and thyme) are available—or whenever it’s martini night. Jay Caputo is a legit celebrity chef. Diners often wait after their meals like kids at a football game to meet him. 28 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-4199
The fish is fresh off the boat, whether it was caught in local waters or the Pacific. Feby’s keeps it simple with a menu of seafood classics: oysters Rockefeller, clams and oysters on the half, or shrimp Lejon to start; creamy clam chowder, tomato-y crab and snapper soup to chase; then surf and turf, a crab cake or broiled seafood to top the tank. After 35 years, Feby’s is a classic. 3701 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, 998-9496
Fenwick Crab House
Kitschy and fun, the crab house is a great family place and one of the oldest dining establishments at the beach. The namesake crustacean gets star billing (steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab imperial, etc.), and there’s seafood galore, but longtime owner Scott Fornwalt wants you to try the barbecued ribs. We have. They’re delicious. This is an authentic beach experience. 100 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 539-2500
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