Bonus Coverage: Roundup of the Old and New Stars on the Restaurant Scene

Hockessin’s Padi changes its name, Café Napoli family expands to Trolley Square, The Drip Café is more than just coffee and more.



(page 1 of 2)

Mona Lisa’s escargot. Photo by Ron Dubick

Every year brings a wave of restaurant openings and closings, but changes of the past 12 months have a different tenor. With new styles of food comes a new attitude or, at the least, an attitude that’s never been expressed so clearly.

“We want to be a part of the community for a long, long time.”

The words belong to chef Bryan Sikora, owner of the much-anticipated La Fia Bakery + Bistro + Market on Market Street in Wilmington, but some version of them has been spoken by all the new owners this year.

The trend, with a few exceptions: smaller, cozier, approachable and homey, with an intent to be not just a business, but a vital, longtime part of a community.

And by homey, we mean just that. Jacques and Kellie Macq, owners of Mona Lisa Euro Bistro in Wilmington, live with their toddler daughter upstairs from the restaurant. Meghan and Joe Church spent months renovating their new home—their first—on Rehoboth Avenue into Bramble & Brine, the hottest thing to happen in Rehoboth Beach in a couple of years.

As for chef Donny Merrill, owner of the wildly popular Skipjack in Newark, “People are thanking me for being here. It’s been wonderful.”

Driving the attitude is the realization of a dream or long-term plan to open one’s own place, accompanied by the desire to put down roots.

Sikora, a native of Western Pennsylvania, kicked around the country through his 20s and early 30s before opening the acclaimed Django in Philadelphia, then Talula’s Table in Kennett, a place so popular, its one large table was booked a year out. In Wilmington, he saw a place to call home: a town with a supportive community that would respond enthusiastically to his culinary approach: sophisticated food that seems simple, all made in-house, meaning the bread served with your white bean-squash ravioli and duck ragout was baked that morning. A charming space with large storefront windows, a tin ceiling and warm wooden floors adds to the comfortable feeling. 

“The experience doesn’t have to be a one-time thing,” Sikora says. “I want people to know this is a nice, warm, welcoming place you can enjoy often. I want people to feel at home here.” (La Fia, 543-5574)

One of the big surprises on the dining scene has been Pochi Chilean Cuisine and Wine Bar in Wilmington, where chef Patricia Millan and husband Braulio Roja have won a loyal following for the food of their native land. Millan, whose recipes come direct from her mother and grandmother, had family in the business at home. When she followed her brother, a psychologist, to Philly a few years ago, she discovered Wilmington. In it, “I saw an opportunity in the people,” she says. “I believed my food would change a little bit what people think.”

The warm, cozy dining room with honeyed oak floors hosts newcomers and regulars who have responded to fare such as pan-seared Chilean sea bass over sautéed garlic spinach with blackberry reduction and sautéed sweet potatoes. The dish is typical of Chilean cuisine, which employs many of the ingredients American diners love, but in different ways. Other than a few early patrons who sent their dinners back to the kitchen because they didn’t understand that ceviche is chilled, the city has responded enthusiastically. (Pochi, 384-6654, pochiwinebar.com)

Also from South America comes a second The Chicken House Charcoal Grill. In Claymont, owner Nancy Pacheco is building on the success of her original Peruvian Chicken House in Newark. The star is charcoal-grilled chicken, marinated according to a recipe developed by her husband’s family in Huariaca, Peru, 70 years ago, like the beef and pork. But The Chicken House also serves seafood a la several delicious ceviches. Sample the national drink, pisco, in cocktails or sours, as well as favorite beers like Cusqueña and Cristal, and South American wines. (Chicken House, 793-1504, thechickenhouserestaurant.com)

Mona Lisa reinforces the international presence in Wilmington. Jacques Macq, a native of Belgium and the general manager at the Wilmington Country Club for seven years, had been looking for a place to buy until finding Mona Lisa. “The goal was to buy a small place we could handle,” Macq says. “We wanted to do it the European way. We wanted to live and work in the same place. We wanted to create a true European bistro.”

Keeping the name Mona Lisa, formerly an Italian restaurant, kept the faithful. Adding “Euro Bistro” attracted new fans. All visit for classics such as veal schnitzel with späetzle and lamb chops with Dijon-Parmesan crust. Appetizers include escargots and shrimp Lejon. Other European touches abound.

“I always wanted my own place, Macq says. “I’m here 25 years, then I’ll give it to my daughter.” He laughs. “I’ll sell it to my daughter.” (Mona Lisa, 888-2201, monalisaeurobistro.com)

Meghan Church grew up in Rehoboth Beach, and she misses old favorites such as The Seahorse, The Avenue, Chez La Mer and The Garden Gourmet. With Bramble & Brine, she wanted to revive the vibe of those places, along with the favorite foods—but with a different flair. Husband Joe, the chef who helped put popular places like Eden and Jam Bistro on the map, thus gives the twice-baked potato and ribeye steaks new life, as well as surprising diners with dishes of rabbit and venison. “Organic, locally sourced—those are things which we think are a given,” Church says. The kitchen is open to the dining room so patrons can see everything in the works, and because the place is also the Churches’ home, it’s furnished in their own casual way.

“I hear this a lot: ‘I feel like I’m in my grandmother’s dining room.’ I love that, because I feel like I’m in my grandmother’s dining room,” Church says. “This isn’t just a restaurant. It’s a house. Joe and I are here for a long time, so just come visit. We’re having a good time.” (Bramble & Brine, 227-7702, brambleandbrine.com)

Speaking of game, “I can’t keep the venison chili in the house,” Merrill says. And he may never be able to remove antelope from his ever-evolving menu at Skipjack. Some iteration of antelope has been a mainstay since his Krazy Kat’s days.

Skipjack’s nautical decor—model ships, trophy fish, ring buoys and brass instruments—suggests the Eastern Shore, as does the name Skipjack, so fish is a big part of the experience. But Skipjack isn’t easily pigeonholed. “It’s all over the place,” Merrill says. “We’re doing whatever we feel like.” And that has proved popular with locals. So has a Sunday brunch with fun fare such as Monte Christo sandwiches of turkey scrapple, Black Forest ham and Jameson-maple applesauce. “The quality is there, with a different attitude,” Merrill says. “We’re about comfort.” (Skipjack, 456-1800, skipjacknewark.com)

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 14, 15, 16 – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Invention Convention Lights, camera, action! This year’s Invention Convention features hands-on video...

Cost: $8 for adults, $6 for children between 4 and 14, and free for children under 4 a

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
Website »

More information

Join Rachel Binkley of Rocker Soaps + Herbals for a fun and information filled class. We will make soap, learn how to make a soap recipe and get tips and techniques to make it easier for you at...

Cost: 40

Where:
Elements of Nutrition
4710 Kirkwood Hwy
Wilmington, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: Rocker Soaps + Herbals
Telephone: 302-544-0391
Contact Name: Rachel Binkley
Website »

More information

Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society will present its popular What Makes Us Tick? program during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, January 13-15. This analytical film and discussion series...

Cost: $9 - $10

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

BROKEN ARROW: A NEIL YOUNG TRIBUTE Broken Arrow delivers the music of Neil Young; both the rockin' electric guitar driven favorites and the more country flavored classics with pedal steel and...

Cost: $12 ADV- $14 DOS

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

Learn how climate change affects our world with hands-on activities that can relate to explorers of all ages. Arctic Adventure and Rainforest Explorer visitors can take on the role of an Arctic...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

When the kids have a day off but the parents don’t, let them spend the day off of school doing something really cool…having fun at DMNH! Enjoy games, crafts, activities, and even a hot dog...

Cost: $20 for Members, $25 for Non-Members.

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Website »

More information

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Science is for everyone! Join us for hands on crafts and activities that highlight science contributions to natural history from scientists all around the world. Learn how YOU can make a difference...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-89111
Website »

More information

January 14, 15, 16 – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Invention Convention Lights, camera, action! This year’s Invention Convention features hands-on video...

Cost: $8 for adults, $6 for children between 4 and 14, and free for children under 4 a

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

The Cinema & the Arts film series proudly presents a screening of the documentary ART BASTARD on  Tuesday, January 17, 7:00 pm, at Cinema Art Theater, 17701 Dartmouth Drive in Dartmouth Plaza,...

Cost: $9

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Division of Public Health offers its annual free flu vaccination event in the Legislative Hall Library, ground floor, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover, DE, on January 18, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. to...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Legislative Hall Library
411 Legislative Ave.
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: Division of Public Health
Telephone: 800-282-8672
Website »

More information

Do you want to learn how to make soap? This is your chance! Join me for a fun and informative class @ Liquid Alchemy. I will teach you how to create your own recipe and the in-and-outs of soap...

Cost: 45.00

Where:
Liquid Alchemy
28 Brookside Dr.
Wilmington, DE  19804
View map »


Sponsor: Rocker Soaps + Herbals
Telephone: 302-544-0391
Contact Name: Rachel Binkley
Website »

More information

Do you want to learn how to make soap? This is your chance! Join me for a fun and informative class @ Liquid Alchemy. I will teach you how to create your own recipe and the in-and-outs of soap...

Cost: 45

Where:
Liquid Alchemy
28 Brookside Dr.
, DE  19804
View map »


Sponsor: Rocker Soaps + Herbals
Telephone: 302-544-0391
Contact Name: Rachel Binkley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Doberstein Admissions Ctr.
320 N DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE  19805
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
Website »

More information

The 3rd Place and Bike Lane Cafe along with WestSide Grows and Delaware Permaculture bring you the West 7th Street Bazaar.  Happening EVERY 3rd Thursday of the month from January through May,...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
The 3rd Place
1139 W. 7th Street
Wilmington, DE  19805
View map »


Sponsor: West Side Grows
Telephone: 302-690-9459
Contact Name: Delaware Permaculture
Website »

More information

January 19 – Thursday – 6:30 p.m. Research Seminar: Amyrs Williams (Wesleyan University) – Reimagining the Modern Farm The seminar is open to the public and is based on a paper that is...

Cost: $0

Where:
Copeland Room, Hagley Library
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum & Library
Telephone: (302) 65802400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

HIGH & MIGHTY BRASS BAND There’s a reason that musical trailblazers from Galactic to DJ Logic have recently chosen to collaborate with High and Mighty Brass Band! and legends such as Dr. John,...

Cost: $15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

Formed in 1992, Splintered Sunlight quickly became the most popular Grateful Dead Tribute band in the Philadelphia area, gaining praise from Dead Heads and Non Heads alike. Since that time,...

Cost: $10

Where:
World Cafe Live At The Queen
500 N Market St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Amateur and professional creators from the Wilmington community and beyond will sketch, paint and sculpt side-by-side with DCAD students, alumni, faculty and staff as nude and costumed male...

Cost: $30 per person

Where:
Delaware College of Art and Design
600 N. Market St.
Wilmington, DE  19081
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware College of Art and Design
Telephone: 302-622-8000 x 123
Contact Name: Mark Tajzler
Website »

More information

From foxes and beavers to cats and dogs, all mammals benefit from open space! Discover the signs of mammals in winter and learn about human impact on mammal habitat and population survival. Join...

Cost: FREE for TLC members / $10 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and the Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation are proud to present The Metropolitan Opera’s live broadcast of Charles Gounod’s ROMÉO ET JULIETTE on Saturday,...

Cost: $15 - $25

Where:
Cape Henlopen High School Theater
1250 Kings Highway
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 130-264-59095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Coastal Concerts in downtown Lewes will host a presentation by one of the most recognized, honored and versatile musicians in the world, the legendary two-time Grammy Award-winning clarinetist...

Cost: $30. Ages 10-18 and one adult per youth.

Where:
Bethel United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall
Fourth & Market Streets
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Coastal Concerts, Inc.
Telephone: 888-212-6458
Contact Name: Edna Ellett
Website »

More information

Ovations Dinner Theatre hosts an interactive Mafia Murder Mystery dinner. Ticket includes a 3-course Italian dinner and the performance. Tickets are $45 for Non-Members and Non-Member seating is...

Cost: 45

Where:
Ballroom at University and Whist Club
805 N. Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Bethany Beach – When local businessman Tim Hill was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“ALS”) in 2014, he set on a mission to help other people who were diagnosed with...

Cost: $20 General Admission

Where:
Frankford Fire Hall
7 Main Street
Frankford, DE  19945
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

AM RADIO Have you ever perked up when the radio plays a song that first hit popular stations when you were young? Do you turn the volume up to obnoxious levels and sing along? Music can bring us...

Cost: $10 + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module