A restaurant owner has never been as excited about a delivery as Joe Maggio was when he realized the two kegs being delivered to Port 251, his new Rehoboth Beach restaurant, were the Italian sparkling cocktail Sera Luce Venetian Spritz.
“We’re going to be the only one in town with that on the menu,” said Maggio excitedly. “We’re all about the bubbles here.”
Port 251 is a joint venture between Maggio and Tony Sacco, who are both local realtors. Maggio said he was in Florence, Italy, last summer for an engagement party when, he said, he was struck by the idea of opening an aperitivo bar in Rehoboth.
“This was something we needed in Rehoboth,” he said.
Port 251 is is located on the triangular lot at the intersection of Rehoboth and Lake avenues. Maggio, who previously owned Aqua on Baltimore Avenue, said he’s been eyeing the location for the new restaurant for 15 years.
This is Sacco’s first time owning a restaurant, but he said he’s been interested in partnering with Maggio for some time. He said he almost did about a decade ago, but he and husband William Greene were going through the process of adopting a son, and family was more important.
“I’m at a different stage in my life and I’ve got more time to devote,” said Sacco. “This seemed like a great adventure to take part in.”
Maggio said the idea behind the restaurant is to present diners with tapas from around the world, using as much locally sourced, seasonal produce as possible. It’s like going into a city port and trying the food, he said of the menu, which includes vegan options.
Like many new businesses, the coronavirus changed the opening plans for Port 251. Sacco said there was a grand opening scheduled for April, but he said, having a grand opening when takeout was the only option didn’t seem appropriate.
“Instead, we get to open it during Pride Month,” said Sacco, of the proudly gay-owned restaurant. “We’ve just been rolling with the punches.”
For the time being, Maggio said Port 251 will be serving aperitivos from 3 to 8 p.m., seven days a week. He said beginning in July, hours will be extended to 1 a.m., and there will be a dinner menu introduced.
“It’ll be a place where people can come get a small bite to eat and a drink before going out to dinner, or they can stay for dinner,” said Maggio. “This is going to have a social atmosphere.”
For more information on Port 251, 251 Rehoboth Ave., call 302-278-7069 or go to the restaurant’s Facebook page.