To explore strange new worlds; to seek out new eateries…
Imagine my surprise when I opened yesterday’s Beach Paper to find that that infernal Rehoboth Foodie guy had stolen my thunder with his “hidden gems” article! Is this guy a stalker, or is it just me? I’m beginning to think that there isn’t room in this town for the both of us.
OK, Mr. Foodie person: I’ll go one better. My hidden gems are those that sparkle beyond the city limits of Rehoboth Beach. Whether you drive north, south or west (be careful driving east…), there are plenty of places to sample. So, I say unto you (in the immortal words of Lance Snack Crackers): “Don’t go ‘round hungry!” (By the way, did you know that it’s Lance’s 100th anniversary?)
Long Neck boasts several gems that are worth the drive. At La Dolce Vita restaurant, Vincenzo “Pop” Beddia and his son Faicel put out great, made-to-order “red-sauce Italian” in a decidedly ‘60s-‘70s Baltimore setting. Pop (who will be 80 this year) glides from table to table, greeting everybody and making things right when needed. The parms - especially the eggplant parm - are particularly delicious with the spicy Diavolo sauce (they call it Diablo; I have chosen to find that charming).
I learned about another spot from cross-country bicycling dervish (and Gazette Publisher of Note) Dennis Forney. Many a special occasion is marked by his team of intrepid Gazetteers with mountains of Holiday Chicken chicken. You can’t throw a side of potato salad here in Delaware without hitting a chicken, and this place does it up right. Driving west on Rt. 24, turn left on Long Neck Road at the Food Lion for La Dolce Vita, or right for Holiday Chicken. Double up on the Lipitor and have at it!
In Milton, Ray and Lisa Richardson’s Kitchen at Paynter’s Mill dishes up lunches and dinners from one of those menus where everything sounds good. Their hours change on a dime, so call 302-827-4050 before trekking over the Nassau Bridge. Farther north in Milford is Kevin Reading’s Abbott’s Grill. The sizeable installation sports a spacious bar (with live entertainment) and a separate banquet room with a view of the huge patio complete with a brick fireplace. Reading and Chef Paul Gallo’s Thanksgiving buffet is the stuff of legend. Continue just two lights west and turn left for Dolce Bakery. WXDE radio host Susan Monday turned me on to this place where Chuck and George’s signature Philadelphia Buttercake recipe (perfect with an espresso) makes the drive to Milford well worth it.
Drive west on Rt. 9/404 to experience the Brick Hotel in Georgetown. Lynn Lester’s wicked sense of humor lights up the whole historic joint (including the cozy pub). Lunches and dinners at The Brick Hotel on the Circle may look expensive, but they aren’t. Lynn keeps the place classy, but invitingly informal. Ahh, people-watching in the lobby while clutching a post-prandial cocktail!
A recent addition to the Georgetown eating scene is Arena’s restaurant in the main (well … the only) terminal at the Sussex County Airport. It’s nice to finally have a good restaurant there where you can watch the airplanes taxi about. Arena’s positive brand recognition is sure to make their new airport location take off.
To the south, Bethany Beach is gettin’ better all the time with creative (and generous) small plates at 14 Global. Chef Shane flexes his culinary muscles with delicious duck and dark chocolate-coated bacon. Around the corner is Patsy’s, where holiday weekend Sundays are marked with Southern fried chicken and eggs Benedict with fried green tomatoes. Dana Banks’ Parkway Restaurant and Sirlae’s Churrascaria (by the Giant in Millville) are also must-tries.
Baltimore’s Ropewalk Tavern just opened in Fenwick, along with Matt Haley’s Papa Grande’s next to Catch 54. For more good red-sauce Italian, don’t miss Mancini’s - especially the wood-fired oven pizzas. Longtime bartender Todge will help you pick the perfect wine.
Yes, Captain, there is intelligent life (and dining) beyond the Rehoboth Beach culinary mothership. Beam down and give ‘em a try.