Bryan Sikora’s La Fia Bakery + Bistro + Market
Bryan Sikora brings casual sophistication to Wilmington in the form of La Fia—a bistro, bakery and gourmet shop rolled into one.
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Sikora’s deft hands showed remarkable control when it came to stronger, more imposing flavors, too. From saffron he coaxed just the right amount of floral sweetness to cloak a meaty halibut filet in a vibrant sauce, and elsewhere gingerly balanced the briny-salty notes of asparagus, white clam sauce and ricotta gnocchi.
But he saved his best for the biggest, baddest, least-summery dish on the block: braised beef short rib. Cooked to the golden temperature where intramuscular fat had just melted into the meat, the beef stood perfectly sturdy and tender. It wasn’t glopped in sauce, and it didn’t glorp apart into mush like so many over-braised versions. Instead, a thoughtful plash of jus allowed the feather-soft beef to speak for itself, clearly and deliciously.
Even La Fia’s selection of petite desserts were executed flawlessly, from the toothsome shortbread tart that supported cool, creamy lemon curd and crème fraiche custard to the sinful, yet beautifully balanced butterscotch pudding, topped with barky toasted hazelnut crunch and espresso-Grand Marnier anglaise.
In some of the darker recesses of the Internet, Sikora is painted as a fallen star—an enigmatic or nomadic talent who couldn’t hack it in the big city.
“Chefs toil for years in cities like Philadelphia and New York with the hopes of one day making croissants in Wilmington,” snipped one Philly food blogger.
But the Sikoras, including Bryan’s wife and business partner, Andrea, and daughter Sofia (after whom La Fia is named), clearly want to be in Wilmington. And little La Fia comes along at just the right time, when other newcomers, including Pochi Chilean Wine Bar, are injecting pockets of the city with the sort of casual sophistication that’s proven so elusive.
Forget about the size of the pond or the fish inside it. All that really matters is the splash.