New Rehoboth eateries compete for the spotlight

Tuscan Grill is close to completion as Tony Nomikos (right) thinks he’s not in the photo. BY BOB YESBEK PHOTOS
May 19, 2011

The target is Memorial Day as owners of Rehoboth bistros put the finishing touches on their new digs. On Wilmington Avenue, New Jersey restaurateur Tony Nomikos, formerly of Zorba’s and Ocean Point Grill, brings 42 years of experience to his Mediterranean-flavored Tuscan Grill.

The vacant and spooky Cultured Pearl spot has been completely transformed. You won’t recognize the place! Sunlight flows onto new tables and wall murals depicting Mediterranean landscapes.

Last week, electricians hung ceiling fans and plumbers fussed over kitchen equipment as Tony supervised from a booth, still wrapped in plastic (the booth, not Tony). I dropped in as he was inspecting the new menu. He asked me not to reveal anything, so of course here goes:

Dinner at Tuscan Grill includes Pasta Your Way. Choose from six pastas in column A (including wheat penne), then top them with one of seven sauces from column B (including peppery Diavolo and vodka). All this talk of columns A and B is making me hungry for Chinese food. Sorry, Tony.

His promise of fresh seafood is evident in dishes like Fruiti di Mare Paridiso. Get this: jumbo shrimp are sautéed in Parmesan Alfredo sauce then tossed with homemade fettuccini. Top it off with lumps of fresh crabmeat. That’s what I’m getting. For those of the carnivorous persuasion, beef, pork and lamb entrees are prepared in the styles of Greece and Tuscany.

The bar is right smack in the front window, affording a panoramic view of competing restaurants. Nomikos imported his bartender from Australia, and apparently this guy’s known for his killer martinis (he better be - that’s a 10,000-mile trek). Bar snacks include fresh oysters and clams casino, as if you need an excuse to order a second cocktail from that Aussie mixologist.

Last week, Baltimore Avenue restaurateur Gretchen Hansen whomped up a complimentary buffet to celebrate Hobos' second year in Rehoboth Beach. The California-born chef managed to blend her vegetarian/vegan inclinations with a festive nod toward Cinco de Mayo.

A mountain of cool guacamole shared the table with a wheel of baked brie the size of a Cadillac hubcap. A deeply savory (yet meatless) chili simmered alongside buttery crostini that served as crunchy shovels for all the dippables.

Gretchen made the moment charitable by collecting contributions for Delaware Guidance, an organization dedicated to providing mental health services for kids. Board of directors member (and owner of Carltons Apparel) Trey Kraus kept Hobos' bartender company as the sizable crowd tossed over a thousand bucks into the till.

Moving southward, Cosmopolitan Grill is up and running. No soft opening for Wilmington Avenue partners Beal Thomas and Ken Gerhart: They operate seven days, from 9 a.m. ‘til 1 a.m. A noteworthy indulgence at Cosmo is the Kentucky Hot Brown, first constructed at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville. Think of it as a turkey sandwich on steroids. Eat this, and you won’t need anything else for the rest of the day. Join them for 6-M Monday, featuring martinis, manhattans, mojitos, margaritas and Matthew Kenworthy at Beal’s grand piano.

Just up the street, Cypress (where Shag used to be) is preparing to debut its New Orleans menu and Mardi Gras-style cocktails. Looks like Ken Heaps and staff will make it just under the wire.

By the way, watch out for a new eatery where the Oasis Convenience Store used to be at the corner of First and Wilmington. My spies report that it will be called Romeo’s.

Returning to Baltimore Avenue, Lauren Cox-Ristenbatt and her husband Ed are almost finished transforming Café Solé into simply…Solé.

Eden’s Mark Hunker and Jeff McCracken continue fitting up JAM Bistro’s new home in the venerable Camel’s Hump building.

Get ‘em while you can, kids, because there’s a good chance that all three Sussex Five Guys stores will close permanently. The Bethany and Rehoboth locations never did reopen, and we may lose Lewes unless somebody steps up to the plate…soon. Those juicy, never-frozen burgers will be sadly missed.

The former Home & Company space on Rehoboth Avenue will morph into a PrimoHoagies sandwich franchise. It appears that the thing to get at this landmark Philly carryout is the Turkey Schwartzie.

That should keep you guessing until next week. Bon appétit.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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