Eat, Shop, Enjoy
Main Street’s funky boutiques, upscale restaurants and casual eateries make this main drag a main attraction.
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When Ryan German, on the cusp of graduating for the University of Delaware, decided to start a small restaurant specializing in gelato, he looked no farther than his old stomping grounds for a location. German knew gelato was an untapped niche, and he certainly knew Newark.
His restaurant, Caffé Gelato, opened in 2000 on Main Street. Since then, the restaurant has expanded—both indoors and out—and it has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The wine and food offerings have also expanded. There are 25 wines by the glass and 162 wines by the bottle, and the menu features such dishes as peppered seared tuna with a butter-brandy sauce and caramelized red radish risotto, and a 9-ounce veal chop wrapped in prosciutto.
“Students and kids buy gelato up front, and people in the back dine with a nice bottle of wine,” German says.
The comfortable mixture of the casual and the upscale characterizes Main Street perfectly. Whether you’re wearing fancy clothes or shorts, walking with students or business colleagues, you’re right at home. There are great restaurants and unique retailers to serve every taste.
“Main Street is going through an incredible evolution,” says Mayor Vance Funk, an attorney with an office on Main Street. “The businesses have created an upgraded atmosphere, and the events downtown are bringing in people from 25 to 30 miles away.”
Credit in part goes to the Downtown Newark Partnership, accredited as a 2009 National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Trust Main Street Center.
A walk down the street takes you past a movie theater, two full-service bicycle shops and a ski and surf shop. There are gift and novelty stores, a pottery studio and gallery, florists and boutiques. Restaurants range from Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and Mexican, to upscale places with diverse menus and winelists. That’s just a start. And everywhere, people are dining outdoors or strolling the sidewalks.
German says Main Street has a “vibrant energy,” especially in warm weather, when diners flock to sidewalk tables and cars cruise down the road. “People seem to know everyone, and they stop to talk,” Funk says. “You don’t see that a lot on the East Coast.”
Caffé Gelato is one of the many restaurants and treat shops along the Main Street corridor. Like Caffé Gelato, Home Grown Café—which also opened in 2000—has been so successful that it expanded and, in 2003, moved into a larger space.
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