Beach eating gets better season after season

July 1, 2014
No, it's not burned. That's wood-fired goodness, and now it's in Ocean City, Md. too! PHOTOS BY BOB YESBEK

It’s been a busy spring! The Top Chef of the Culinary Coast event a couple of weeks ago raised well over $10,000 for our local Meals on Wheels Lewes/Rehoboth chapter. We love keeping the money in Sussex County! Ten chefs and lots of sponsors chipped in to make the event a success, and the voting was close in all the categories - often within just two or three votes. But the real winner is Meals on Wheels Lewes/Rehoboth. Thanks to the generosity and talents of all the participants and sponsors, even more deserving Sussex seniors will receive nourishing meals and a little extra TLC.

Speaking of TLC, that’s what co-owner Bob Ciprietti has been putting into his huge Touch of Italy project in the oceanfront Holiday Inn at 67th St. in Ocean City, Md. Last weekend he decided to very quietly unlock the doors for a quickie dry run to test all the systems. Seventy-two hours later the fledgling eatery had served over 3,000 lunches and dinners! The official grand opening was Thursday, June 26, and the big restaurant, two pool bars, carryout and the catering for the hotel are off and running with that magic Touch of Italy touch. This was a huge undertaking and I congratulate Bob, executive chef and co-owner Ciro Verdi, and their entire crew. walking food tours has added several new stops to their popular tasting treks through town. Newbies include Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria at Second and Wilmington and the Olive Orchard Tasting Room in First Street Station. Last Sunday, a sold-out tour group enjoyed the outdoor splendor of the treehouse (the place to watch the sun set since the Chez la Mer days) while sipping spiced margaritas and nibbling on Mexican Street Corn. This dish is one of the shining stars at Papa’s, with warm corn on the cob all dressed up like a lollipop and slathered with crema (like crème fraîche but a bit thinner), queso, chile dust, sea salt (their own creation) and lime. This is a must-try.

Walking into the Olive Orchard Tasting Room is like walking into another world. The walls are lined with stainless steel casks called fustis, and each is marked with a description of its contents. Tiny tasting cups tempt to you open the spigot for a few drops. My vote for the best in the vinegar show is the dark cinnamon-pear balsamic. It’s just barely sweet, but with a deep fruity finish that would make any salad stand up and talk. Also try the white balsamic with jalepeño and the white balsamic infused with cranberry and pear. It will be difficult to not take a bottle of this stuff home.

After tasting the garlic-infused olive oil, I wanted to drizzle a little on a plate and sprinkle some grated aged parmesan, chili flakes and a pinch of sea salt on top. Then rip the end off of a still-warm baguette and dunk until it’s all gone. Of course, that’s just me….

Richard and Michelle Davis are taking the town by storm at Michy’s Relaxed Dining in the Rehoboth Marketplace Center near Pete’s Steak Shop. People send me emails all the time about their dining experiences and 100 percent of them have been positive. People are lovin’ this place. My suggestions are the Szechuan-style fried calamari with sesame seeds, peanuts and scallions; the forever-braised short ribs with caramelized fennel, and the lump crab cake drizzled lovingly with a bit of balsamic. The chardonnay-poached pear and endive salad with walnuts and blue cheese is also not to be missed. Ask Michelle (Michy) to show you her bathtub.

Writing this has made me hungry (it doesn’t take much). Rehoboth Beach has stepped up to the plate for yet another season of good eats. Get out there and see what it’s all about.

  • 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.