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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Café Mezzanotte is nothing if not comfortable. The palette is soft and soothing. The tables are nicely spaced. The food, of course, is delicious. You’ll find all the usual Italian favorites done very well, but with a few surprises such as baked oysters stuffed with crab meat and drizzled with truffle oil, as well as crepes filled with chicken and spinach. There is ample seafood, as well as beef, veal, pork and chicken with sides such as polenta and sauces such as porcini cream. The wine list is predominantly Italian, natch. 1007 N. Orange St., Wilmington, 658-7050
Neighborhood Italian isn’t supposed to be this fun. Don Scalessa and his crew make every service a party with music, dancing, great food and adoration of Italian-American culture. Sunday pork with rigatoni and ricotta is a can’t-miss, as is the creamy and delicate crab dip. Meatballs are heralded across the region. Fridays are ladies nights—$5 mixed drinks and $3 beers. Sunday brunch is big, as are homemade tiramisu, cannoli and butter cake. 504 Greenhill Ave., Wilmington, 656-0955
Fine dining in downtown Newark used to be a rare sight. Gelato changed that. Owner Ryan German’s love of wine is fun to observe. At the new wine bar, try one of 1,500 bottles on reserve. Whether you’re an amorous sophomore marketing major trying to impress a restaurant management major with your refined taste, or whether you’re keeping the flame alive, this is your place. The gelato is one of the best desserts in the state. 90 E. Main St., Newark, 738-5811
Capers & Lemons
Don’t let the beautifully contemporary lines and warm palette of the dining room fool you—this is pure Old World comfort. Build your own antipasto from a selection of such delicacies as braised fennel, roasted beets, delicious Italian meats and more. There are a variety of individually sized wood-fired pizzas, as well as homemade pastas. The chicken piccata proves that Capers & Lemons lives up to its name. Don’t fill up on the garlic mashed potatoes. You need room for the decadent tiramisu. 301 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, 256-0524
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