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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Old-school neighborhood Italian meets Greenville upper crust chic—and works. Be it sautéed softshell crabs, salt-crusted branzino or ground sea urchin, chef-owner Marco Rizzo, a former fisherman, and main man Calixto Fernandez do some amazing things. On Friday and Saturday nights, Marco swings into host extraordinaire to entertain the throng. And there’s a salad even men go nuts for. Marco’s grilled version takes a whole romaine lettuce segment, then tops it with shaved Parmesan, diced fried pancetta and balsamic vinaigrette. 1847 Pulaski Hwy., Bear, 392-2244; 3801 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 254-5427
It’s no safari, but Zebra always seems to impress Rehoboth’s adventurous dining crowds with its upscale Italian offerings. Credit the homemade pastas, which include black and white fettuccine, and the house signature veal saltimbocca. A lively bar crowd turns out for downtown people-watching and sublime martinis. 32 Lake Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-1160
Roma Italian Ristorante
Dover’s favorite pizza shop-turned-dress-up Italian place still packs them in, thanks to chef Joey Garramone Jr. and his father Guiseppe’s recipes. Roma is old-school for good reason: There’s no denying the staying power of American-Italian favorites made from fresh ingredients, from veal scaloppini to chicken Parmigiana to veal saltimbocca. Yet how many Italian places serve sushi-grade ahi with wasabi and soy-ginger sauce? 3 President Drive, Dover, 678-1041
We may be very familiar with the produce of area farms, but Salt Air takes us to school anyway, propelling local corn, tomatoes, berries and more to new heights. Owner Jonathan Spivak sources darned good product, and chef Nino Mancari captures it in dishes like fire-roasted whole chicken, local porgy and Chincoteague oysters. Take visiting relatives who need an exposition on coastal Delaware cuisine. Salt Air’s secret weapon is pastry chef Rebecca Krebs, whose re-imagining of classics will leave you licking the plate. 50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-2444
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