Ulysses American Gastropub in Wilmington, Delaware: A Dining Review

What’s All the Pubbub?: When it comes to beer-centric fun, Ulysses is one for the books.


Published:

At a Glance

Ulysses American Gastropub
1716 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 691-3456 ulyssesgastropub.com
Recommended Dishes
Smoked baby back ribs, BBQ pork sammy, mussel pots 
Prices
Appetizers $7-$14, burgers and sandwiches $9-$14, entrées $16-$26

The whispers and echoes resonated from Chalfonte to Bellefonte; from Talleybrook to Talleyville. up Marsh, down Silverside, through Foulk and past Naamans.

The sprawling, amorphous suburban blob of North Wilmington—well-populated, well-compensated, with all the casual shopping, chain restaurants, dental offices and community swimming pools you could ever need—seemed to collectively come to the same realization: There’s nothing like this around here.

Last winter, when brothers Steve and Michael Lucey wedged Ulysses American Gastropub into a faceless strip mall on Marsh Road, it felt like an exotic new species had been dropped into the suburban ecosystem. Striking and urbane, Ulysses’ walls popped with Scotch-tape plaid and black-and-white Beetlejuice stripes. Brilliant white porcelain animal heads (moose, ram and deer by my count) dotted the walls, creating instant conversation pieces, while youthful and tattooed staffers pulled taps containing the latest in craft microbrews. Elvis Costello crooned on the speakers, and the Flyers skated on the dozens of TV screens.

Chef Sean McNeice works on his mussels. Photo by Thom Thompson

Sure, the area offers plenty of places to eat. Besides the chains, there are staples of comforting fine dining—Harry’s Savoy, Culinaria, Corner Bistro—that are as good as they’ve ever been. But nothing quite like this.

A week into service and it was already clear that Ulysses’ strength was what it represents: a casual, stylish pub brimming with great beers and a fun, place-to-be-seen vibe. Most impressively, Ulysses made it look effortless.

The Luceys, who clearly have a knack for creating revered cult hangouts like Wilmington’s Dead Presidents Pub and Hockessin’s Six Paupers Tavern, recruited chef Sean McNeice, formerly of Wilmington’s Chelsea Tavern and Washington Street Ale House.

And like the modernist novel it’s named for, Ulysses isn’t exactly light reading. It dives hard into the beer-centric landscape that’s dominating the state, and builds its concept around a solid, 24-tap bar and a rotating list of craft brews. All of which makes it easy to navigate McNeice’s cache of burgers, wings, sandwiches, nachos and quesadillas.

Ghosts of restaurants past return. Dead Presidents’ famous Chicken Nixon reappears, blackened and tender as all get-out, oozing cheddar and beer-spiked barbecue sauce. And McNeice’s wicked “dirty burger,” a Frankensteinian tower of meats and cheese that debuted at Chelsea, is slightly tweaked here as the Mile High Burger: an astonishing combination of a deep-batter-fried burger patty, cheddar, sauerkraut, grilled bratwurst, and a fried egg. The best of the bunch was the Joyce Burger, a juicy half-pounder left to soak up the sweetness of caramelized onion marmalade and smoky bacon.

 Server Melissa Colegrove delivers drinks to the dining room. Photo by Thom Thompson

Besides a barrage of American pub grub, McNeice’s greatest contribution to the program might be Bertha, a hand-welded steel smoker box that resides out back. With her billowing fog of oak and cherry smoke, Bertha is capable of fantastic things. In fact, she’s already producing some of the best baby back pork ribs in the area. Tender yet firm, smoky yet tangy, the ribs struck a remarkable balance in flavor and texture. A slather of dijon, a peppery dry rub and a top layer of ale-infused barbecue sauce tessellated into a mosaic of crust and flavor. Bertha’s smoke imparted subtle wisps of smokiness which, thankfully, didn’t overwhelm the ribs’ carefully plotted seasoning. And unlike imitators who slow cook ribs into grandma’s-pot-roast oblivion, these maintained their structural integrity, allowing for a solid bite and mouthfeel.

Much of the same could be said for McNeice’s pulled pork, particularly in its “sammy” application: piled into a buttery roll along with crisp, chipotle pepper-splashed coleslaw.

McNeice unveiled his assortment of mussel pots—individually sized steamer pots busting with bivalves in a variety of flavors—at Chelsea Tavern, but it wasn’t until I tried them at Ulysses that they truly clicked for me. After a few slurps of coconut red curry mussels, I realized how well their briny jolt pairs with a nice, crisp beer. In this case it was Brooklyn Brewery’s Companion Ale, a sweet and aromatic wheatwine, that provided equilibrium.

Bartender Danielle Snellings and customer Jeff Passerini chat at the bar. Photo by Thom ThompsonUlysses’ attentive staff was generally spot-on with beer recommendations—an important distinction here, where the beer list changes almost daily. To counterbalance the excellent crab cake sliders with vibrant, lemony tartar sauce, it was Magic Hat’s Elder Betty, a malty weiss-style ale with fragrant hints of elderberry. For crispy calamari and its robust sriracha and lime aioli, the staff poured Blanche De Bruxelles, an imported witbier with calming notes of citrus and coriander.

But for all the bounty that Bertha, beer and burgers provided, the rest of Ulysses’ menu sputtered through some inconsistency. Margherita pizza, despite its flakey, slightly scorched crust, fell flat in the flavor department. And the sheer enormity of Atlantic cod filets that comprised fish and chips made for a cumbersome and poorly composed plate. A forlorn filet of rockfish slumped its way into menu lowlight status, thanks to its chewy, overcooked flesh and broken, indecipherable sauce.

Alas, in the quest to synthesize pub grub and fine dining, such missteps will occur, and it’s been clear to anyone monitoring the first few months of service at Ulysses that McNeice and his team are willing to tweak and adjust as they learn what works best.

With eager North Wilmingtonians as its captive audience, and with a steel-framed secret weapon named Bertha on its side, Ulysses’ stature in the area can only grow.

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February 2018

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

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Cost: 10

Where:
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center
100 Station Ave
Oaks, PA  19456
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Sponsor: MarketPlace Events
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Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
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Cost: $10

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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"Choir Boy" presents a complex look at race and sexuality. Shows are at 8pm on February 16 and 17; there is a 2pm matinee on Sunday February 18. Buy tickets online at www.WilmingtonDramaLeague.org.

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
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Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

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A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: Call for cost.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2288
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
Website »

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By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

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"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
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View map »


Website »

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
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Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
Website »

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Cost: Varies

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Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Ruth Arias
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Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
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"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

This community event invites attendees to sample healthy dishes prepared by local restaurants and vote for the most creative, tastiest, and best preparation. The first 200 registrants may also sign...

Where:
STAR Health Sciences Complex
540 S. College Ave
Newark, DE  19713
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Website »

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Explore connections between people and plants in these four inspiring presentations. Special thanks to Whole Foods Market for sponsoring this  year’s refreshments. Individual lecture pricing:...

Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Mackenzie Knight-Fochs
Website »

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Tickets are $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students. Tickets are available at the door. Cash or check only.

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
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View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Ronald Barron was principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1975 until 2008. He joined the orchestra in 1970 after being a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and also...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free; donations accepted

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission; Adults: $14, Children 6-14: $5, Children 5 and under: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum and Library
200 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Website »

More information

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Cost: *VIP $125.00; *Silver Mirror Ball $50.00

Where:
Dover Downs Hotel
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View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition
Telephone: 302-778-1102
Contact Name: Eliza Mohler
Website »

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The Newark Symphony Chamber Orchestra presents a performance of Johann Baptist George Neruda, Trumpet Concerto in E flat, with Wendell Banyay, Trumpet.  Also to be featured will be Gabriel Faure,...

Cost: 0 - $20

Where:
Newark United Methodist Church
69 E. Main St.
Newark, DE  19711
View map »

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