The Best of Delaware 2009
From crab cakes and cheesesteaks to prime rib and clam bakes, little Delaware is packed with great places to eat and terrific places to shop. Here’s the cream of the crop.
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Best Local Brew
Critics, upstate: You know when you walk into a place and see an honest-to-goodness brewery, you’re going to be tasting some great beers. Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant’s beers are brewed on site by company brewers. Five home brews are always joined by various traditional Belgian ales that change throughout the year. The brews are (as if you don’t have them memorized) the Iron Hill Light Lager, Vienna Red Lager, Ironbound Ale, Raspberry Wheat and our favorite, the slightly bitter, kinda nutty, ever tasty Pig Iron Porter. Look for other seasonal offerings such as Sasquatch, an American barleywine that’s hopped up on hops.
(147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000; 710 S. Justison St., Wilmington, 658-8200)
Best Homemade Pasta
Critics, upstate: You can frequent the priciest gourmet shop and buy the snootiest pasta, but you’ll never duplicate the homemade flavor at Luigi Vitrone’s Pastabilities. The reasons are simple: fresh eggs, water, flour and hard labor. Vitrone painstakingly rolls each tube of pasta for Hunter’s cannelloni, spends hours molding gnocchi, and we can’t even begin to comprehend shaping those bow ties. The red wine fettuccine, which was once patented, is served with jumbo lump crab, lobster and shrimp in a cognac-tomato cream. Vitrone’s spinach ravioli continues to win hearts, largely because of its creamy ricotta and mascarpone filling. You want homemade? Honor the master. (415 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 656-9822)
Best Indian Restaurant
Readers, upstate: Star of India (1710 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, 999-1802)
Readers, downstate: Flavor of India (348 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 677-0121)
Critics, upstate: “Among my friends and business colleagues in the Indian-American community, Palace of Asia is held in the highest regard,” says Poppiti. He loves the outstanding buffet, which “provides the neophyte on Indian fare, like myself, a chance to sample and discover the full spectrum of specialties.” The ornate dining rooms are inspired by the royal courts of India. Lunch and dinner combinations offer various appetizers and entrées, all served with naan and paratha, mint and tamarind chutneys, raita, sliced salad, achar (an Indian pickle), papadum and dessert. Lamb kabobs and beef curry are popular, and the menu abounds with vegetarian dishes such as mircha bhagara (jalapeño peppers with coconut and peanut sauce) and paneer Masala. Don’t skimp on the breads, especially the garlic naan and paneer kulcha. (3421 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 994-9200)
Best Japanese Restaurant
Readers, upstate: (tie) Hibachi Japanese Steak House (1160 Pulaski Hwy., Bear, 838-0414; 215 Astro Shopping Center, Newark, 456-3308; 5607 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 477-0194) Mikimotos Asian Grill & Sushi Bar (1212 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 656-8638)
Readers, downstate: Hibachi Japanese Steak House (691 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 734-5900)
Critics, upstate: There’s a reason Jasmine Asian Cuisine and Sushi Bar tops Borin’s list. “The food is always fresh and consistent,” she says. “I’m not a raw fish fan, but I love the stir-fried dishes and the steamed edamame in pods, which are perfect to enjoy over good conversation.” The menu features eclectic elements of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food. The sleek interior and incandescent lighting scream high end. (But don’t be afraid to bring your kids. Families are welcome.) “It’s a wonderful addition to eateries in North Wilmington.” (3618 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 479-5618)
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