Delaware Beach Dining Guide
The Sands of Thyme: This season, the coast’s culinary landscape is sprinkled with familiar names, whether they belong to seasoned restaurateurs, chefs or the restaurant itself. Take a look.
Alison Blyth opened Go brit! fish + chips in Lewes
Photograph by Jared Castaldi
Good Food on the Go
Alison Blyth has earned her stripes on the restaurant scene. Blyth, who moved from England to the United States in 1980, opened La La Land and Yum Yum in Rehoboth, both of which are fondly remembered. In 2002, she returned to her roots with go fish! fish + chips. The takeout shop became so popular, she turned it into a 40-seat full-service restaurant. Now she’s taken her jolly good concept to the highway. Go brit! fish + chips this year opened in the old Deli 88 space across Del. 1 from Bethany Blues in Lewes.
Go Brit!, which has a counter service, features go fish!’s favorites: fish and chips, seafood pie, chicken and chips, bangers and mash, mushy peas and sticky toffee pudding. Like the menu, the restaurant’s decor possesses a British flavor. There’s a 1969 Mini Cooper and a stylized mural of London landmarks. The Lewes shop is a prototype for a franchise, a business move Blyth has been considering for 10 years. “It’s very exciting to me,” she says. “When we started reaching out to franchisees, we realized what potential we have.” (644-2250, gobrit.com)
Lisa DiFebo-Osias also has a knack for plugging a niche. DiFebo-Osias, owner of DiFebo’s Restaurant in Bethany Beach and DiFebo’s Bistro on the Green at Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club in Ocean View, in spring launched her “Bus Stop” prepared-foods concept. “I wanted to provide people with well-balanced, tasty and affordable meals that are convenient,” she says. The pre-ordered meals, which range from lasagna to short ribs with red wine and herbs, are available Monday through Friday, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The service targets busy parents. She knows her audience well. “I am in the smack down part of three children’s sports, after-school activities and working full time,” she says. Place orders by 11 a.m. on drop-off days. Stops include the Millville Fire Co. and St. Ann’s Catholic Church parking lot. Call for more locations. (381-2464, difebos.com)
The folks who brought you Nage in Rehoboth Beach have opened Root Gourmet: Crafted Foods To Go & Café right next door. “We cater to people who want high quality, flavorful food—some with health-conscious ingredients,” says owner Josh Grapski.
Order meals before you visit to minimize cooking time on vacation. Lucky area residents can pop into the café anytime for a sandwich or salad. (727-5664)
All in the Family
Speaking of locals, area residents have been chillin’ at Big Chill Surf Cantina, which Grapski opened on Del. 1. The ’70s surf theme was partly inspired by its neighbor, Liquid Surf Shop. “We wanted to create a culture—a place to go where you can hang out,” Grapski says. “It’s got a good vibe.” Take five on the patio, listen to live music and tuck into tacos, wraps, salads, chili, nachos or quesadillas. (727-5568)
If all went as planned, Nage’s celebrated chef, Hari Cameron, opened his own venture in Café Sole’s old space in Rehoboth. Diners around town will call it “Amuse” or “A Muse,” but ever stylish, Cameron is spelling it “a MUSE.” (The period is part of the name.) Cameron is sourcing ingredients from a 200-mile radius when possible, and he’s mining 18th-century recipes for menu material. “I’m looking to modernize them and take inspiration from what makes the mid-Atlantic great,” he says. You can get small plates, seven-course tasting menus or entrées. Two local farms have provided barn siding for the decor, and at last glance, Cameron was soliciting old “Joy of Cooking” editions on Facebook to use as wallpaper. (227-7107)
Touch of Italy is touching a lot of coastline lately. With locations in Lewes and Rehoboth, the “salumeria and pasticceria” is opening a bakery at the Villages of Five Points in Lewes. (touchofitaly.com)
Rising from the Ashes
Diners in the southern beaches were devastated when Catch 54 in Fenwick Island suffered a fire in August 2011, which forced it to temporarily close. The restaurant was scheduled to reopen in May. “It looks beautiful,” says Matt Haley of SoDel Concepts, which owns Catch 54. “It’s awesome.” Expect the same amazing bayside views and a tweaked menu. “We’re adding some really good steaks to give diners some beefy options down here,” Haley says. If all goes as planned, SoDel Concepts will open a Mexican concept next to Catch 54 in the fall. (436-8600, catch54.com)
Haley’s Highwater Management consulting company worked on Salt Air , which opened in Rehoboth in 2009 to great reviews. It closed for renovations last fall and didn’t reopen. Eric Sugrue and brother Norman of Big Fish Grill fame have purchased the restaurant. The Sugrues will continue the concept launched by former owner Jonathan Spivak. “Our goal is to use as many local farms as we can,” Eric Sugrue says. “We’re going to focus on sustainable seafood and make an effort to serve all-natural and organic proteins.” Improvements include a dining room makeover and a new kitchen. (227-3744, saltairrestaurant.com)
One familiar name from the past has been resurrected. For more than 20 years, The Rose & Crown once stood near The Buttery on Second Street in Lewes. It closed in 2005. If all goes as planned, a new version of the Rose & Crown will open in Beseme’s old location in the Hotel Rodney. The owners are recreating the old ambience, complete with memorabilia, but putting their own spin on it.
Out With the Old, In With the New
Some familiar restaurateurs are switching gears. Consider Whiskey Beach BBQ & Saloon in Dewey Beach, which opened this year in Ponos’ old space. Owner Regan Derrickson opted for a more casual concept when he saw how well Ponos’ laid-back sister, Nalu, was doing. The menu features the expected: Texas brisket, ribs and pork. You can also get burgers and fried chicken. Darts, shuffleboard and karaoke encourage patrons to stay awhile. (227-3119)
Chef-restaurateur Jay Caputo in May replaced the Porcini House in Rehoboth Beach with Cabo. “I thought it needed a facelift, and I’ve been to Mexico and really love the food,” he says. “I thought it would be a fun way to re-brand the restaurant and give Rehoboth something it doesn’t have.” He’s serving a variety of ceviche and using the whole pig to create entrées, including pork carnitas. There’s plenty of sangria and margaritas, which always go well with sea breezes. (226-TACO, cabo-restaurant.com)
Longtime diners frequently call a building an old restaurant’s name. They’d call Porcini House—now Cabo—the old Chez la Mer. And the building on Wilmington Avenue is the old Mano’s Restaurant. Forget that it was also home to Retro Café and then, for about three months last season, the Cosmopolitan Grill. Now Shorebreak Lodge has set up shop.
Contrary to the name, Shorebreak serves retro-style pub food with flair, not accommodations. “We like to do things a little different but not reinvent the wheel,” says Matt Sprenkle, who owns the restaurant with Rob Stitt. Take the surf-and-turf entrée: scallops and short ribs over Parmesan risotto.
Does Stitt’s name sound familiar? He’s best-known for Eden, the restaurant he founded on Rehoboth Avenue and has since sold. Although he’s been active in beach culinary projects outside Rehoboth, he’s now back on familiar ground. What goes around comes around at the beach, and for diners, that’s a very good thing. (227-1007, shorebreaklodge.com)