Toast the coast with Touch of Italy and friends

Touch of Italy brings a little bit of the Bronx to Rehoboth. PHOTOS BY BOB YESBEK
July 23, 2013

As part of the grand opening of the new Touch of Italy restaurant/deli in Shore Plaza (directly across from Tanger Seaside), next-door neighbors Nage, Root Gourmet, Outlet Liquors and Hickman’s Meats are throwing a block party. The big day is Friday, July 19, from 1 to 4 p.m., and everybody’s invited!

Shore Plaza has seen a lot of changes over the last few years. Locals may remember the old Salvation Army store that used to occupy the massive space that Outlet Liquors now enjoys. This multi-thousand-square-foot liquor supermarket features a comfortable lounge surrounded by aisle after aisle of spirits, wines, beers, mixers, snacks - you name it. In fact, they’re teaming up with Nage restaurant to present special wine tastings during Friday’s event. Bring your ID.

Those of you who thought that Bill Hickman’s only talent was brandishing a meat cleaver would be wrong: Rehoboth’s longtime butcher is pretty handy with a microphone as well. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he was the lead singer for the band 29 East, traveling the Milwaukee and Chicago areas playing R&B and light jazz. Nowadays, his son Will sings and plays guitar, entertaining local diners with ‘60s and ‘70s tunes he learned from Dad. And he’ll be rockin’ out in front of Nage during the entire three hours. For those of you who are limber enough to munch and listen at the same time, there will be grills a’sizzlin’ with Hickman’s delicious sausages. In fact, the boys (and girls) at Hickman’s will be on hand at 1 p.m. to give pointers on grilling techniques. They’ll also demonstrate the finer skills of meat carving at 3 p.m.

Root Gourmet took over the old Nikko’s Philly Cheesesteaks spot several years ago and is still turning out tasty take-home meals, desserts and bread. Josh, Rich, Keith and the rest of the gang at Root Gourmet will pull out the stops with a peach cooking demonstration at 1 p.m., a Whoopie Pie tutorial at 2 p.m. and a Giant Peach Hour for the kids at 3 p.m. Be sure to get your name into the raffle to win a gift basket featuring goodies from the entire neighborhood.

Touch of Italy co-owner Bob Ciprietti couldn’t be more pleased to unveil Touch of Italy’s fourth location. He marshaled his considerable talents as a builder to transport his childhood on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to us here in Rehoboth Beach. Custom stained glass, huge art pieces, antique brick arches and a massive skylight illuminating copper verdigris stylings welcome you into the 100-plus-seat deli, restaurant and bar. Fragrant oak will bake pizzas, breads, calzones and who knows what else in the elegantly domed, white-tiled wood-burning oven.

In spite of the last-minute preparations for launching the new Touch of Italy (the magic moment is 1 p.m.), Bob’s mozzarella mavens will make fresh cheese right before your eyes in the style they learned from the master himself, Arthur Avenue’s Orazio Carciotto, proprietor of Casa Della Mozzarella in the Bronx. Many of the Italian meats served and sold at Touch of Italy are from Tony Biancardi’s landmark meat market on Arthur Avenue, run by his sons Anthony and Sal. In other words, it’s all the real thing. Of course, the bread is made from scratch at Touch of Italy’s bakery in the Villages of Five Points. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

As if all that were not enough, Ocean 98 Radio’s Bulldog, master of the morning (along with Big Al Reno and the Coach) will be checking in live from the party throughout the afternoon at 98.1FM. So catch a glimpse of the elusive Bulldog and join Nage, Root Gourmet, Hickman’s Meats and Outlet Liquors as they celebrate summer at the beach and welcome Touch of Italy to their delicious neighborhood.

  • 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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