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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Ponos Hawaiian Fine Dining
Ponos is a truly unique experience—and a bit of a surprise in Dewey. Many dishes get Asian touches: yuzu, wasabi, various curries. There’s pineapple, of course. And though trying to turn paella into something distinctively Hawaiian is a novel exercise, you’ll be delighted by standouts such as the sweet-and-spicy glazed pork belly appetizer and the Hawaiian red snapper in a macadamia-cilantro crust served with pineapple risotto and corn-tomato concasse. 1306 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach, 227-3119
Chef Jay Caputo’s “other” restaurant is so much more, thanks to typically offbeat offerings that don’t stray too far from prevailing tastes: duck confit that’s crispy and tender, a risotto menu that’s delicious and fun, and—why not?—Kobe beef hot dogs. Just off Rehoboth’s main drag and voluminous foot traffic, Porcini’s lunch business is huge during summer. Folks can eat outdoors on relatively light fare and the rooftop deck is tricked out with stage lighting and a hefty mahogany bar. 210 Second St., Rehoboth Beach, 227-6494
In a shopping complex that’s loaded with chain restaurants, Potstickers almost feels like a chain, too—it’s big, it’s usually filled, it’s brilliantly decorated and it’s cuisine is consistently good. But Potstickers is a cut above, thanks to seasonal, organic vegetables and certified Angus beef that goes into its pan-Asian dishes like Kung Pao San Yang and house signature onion-infused Mongolian beef. The ginger-soy sea bass is delicious. The sampler of namesake potstickers is a terrific start. And there’s sushi. No wonder all those Buddhas on the wall look so contented. 1247 Churchmans Road, Newark, 731-0188
Prince on Delaware
Here, a CIA grad takes on supposedly stodgy Old New Castle with ample spice, freshness and Southern and South American-influenced fare. Prince Johnson’s menu changes with the seasons and is often built around organic produce. Currently, look for squash, sweet potatoes, lamb and dishes like creamy crab risotto or stewed sirloin over sushi rice. Check into Friday Night Jazz for soothing music and candle-topped tables. Prince’s desserts come from acclaimed pastry chef Dana Herbert, who whips up pecan pies, baked apple tarts and scintillating death by chocolate cake. 124 Delaware St., New Castle, 326-1130
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