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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Critics, upstate: Earth, air, fire water—it’s all at Soffritto Italian Grill. The restaurant scores big points for the stone hearth and fireplace and towering waterfall alone. But all the beef, veal, chicken and seafood classics are offered, as well as fun pastas such as ravioli in pesto. Trust us: You’ll feel like you’re dining a world away from Newark. (1130 Capitol Trail, Newark, 455-1101)
Beginning with the glowing orange tones in the front lounge, you quickly realize Stingray Sushi Bar + Asian Latino Grill is as much a treat to the eyes as the taste buds. Hanging high above the gargantuan, custom-made sushi bar are hand-blown neon lights shaped like jellyfish, crafted in the French Quarter. They simply pop against the black ceiling. Like its sister restaurant, Mikimotos, Stingray has paintings and prints depicting the Ultraman and Marine Boy characters of the ’60s Japanese TV. Carefully placed spotlights brighten pockets of the rooms. The pièces de résistance are glowing, color-changing LED stingray patterns embedded in the sushi bar’s countertop. Even the Stingray sign out front was cut from steel with a water laser. At night when it’s backlit, it creates a halo-like effect. (59 Lake Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-6476)
Readers, upstate: Caffé Gelato (90 E. Main St., Newark, 738-5811)
Readers, downstate: Big Fish Grill (4117 Highway One, Rehoboth Beach, 227-9007)
Critics, upstate: Rollins has been a fan of Temptations for, let’s just say, quite a while. “I’ve had a lifetime of it,” she says with a laugh. “We’ve been eating the ice cream since the kids were in grammar school. The texture and quality is rich and fabulous.” This Trolley Square fixture, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in August, is known for its homemade Belgian waffle sundaes, the Mile High apple pie, which is literally a tall order, chocolate fudge cake and carrot cake, which has been served since day one. Temptations’ premium ice cream is made by Bassetts Ice Cream of Philadelphia. The local product is made by Wilmington’s own Hy-Point Dairy. Rollins’ favorite flavor? She doesn’t hesitate: “coffee and chocolate.” (11A Trolley Square, Wilmington, 429-9162)
Critics, downstate: Skip the funnel cake and head straight to Victoria’s Restaurant on the boardwalk, where you’ll find sweets like crème brûlée, tiramisu, pies and cakes. “I love stopping at Victoria’s in the evening and getting a big piece of cheesecake,” Meoli says. “It’s fabulous, New York-style with strawberries. It’s a very big portion, too—perfect for that last stop of the evening.” (2 Olive Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-0615)
Best Dinner and Dinner to Go
Critics, upstate: Locals love The Back Burner Restaurant & Bar’s cozy, country ambiance almost as much as its signature pumpkin mushroom soup and appetizers such as goat cheese quesadillas and crispy fried oysters. The popular lamb shank is braised and served with succotash. Another winner, veal Oscar, offers medallions topped with fresh lump crab and Béarnaise sauce. But in a pinch, diners hit The Back Burner To Go, the gourmet takeout shop next door. The soup is there, as is a full case of cheeses, gift baskets and specialties that include D.L. Jardine’s salsa, Crane’s dressings, Seattle’s Best coffee, Divina olives, E. Molinari and Sons dry-cured salami, American Vintage wine biscuits, D’Artagnan pâté and local Woodside Farm ice cream. (425 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin, 239-2314)
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