A slice of life that’s a big part of beach eats

May 20, 2021

Welcome to the beach! I’m back again to regale you with suggestions and thoughts on how to eat well by the ocean. So let’s get down to business: Extensive research (…well, ok – I eat a lot of pizza) has proven that pizzas tend to congregate near boardwalks and oceans. So I thought a little roundup of our plethora of pies might be just the thing to kick-start the 2021 season.

Here in Rehoboth, it all started in 1960 with Grotto. That thin-crusted pie shares a trait with many Chicago-style versions: The sauce is applied on top of the blend of cheeses. In 1971, Nicola Pizza appeared across The Avenue. Their sauce/cheese paradigm is reversed: their sauce is topped with the cheese. Oh, and check out Nicola’s signature Nic-O-Boli. Forget the details. It’s tasty.

Three years later, Louie Gouvas opened Louie’s Pizza. Sons Tim and Tony have been running the Rehoboth Avenue storefront since they could see over the counter. Locals maintain that Louie’s yeasty crust and oven-seared pepperoni are greater than the sum of the parts.

Mr. P’s Pizza in Lewes is built around an Italian wood-burning oven. Glowing oak bakes the pies quickly, creating slightly charred crust bubbles and a light, puffy perimeter. Though Mr. P’s is arguably the first in the area to cook pizzas with oak, wood-fired ovens are popping up here and there. Three of the busiest glow brightly at the Touch of Italy restaurants in Lewes, Rehoboth and Ocean City. TOI is so serious about its Neopolitan-style pies that they snagged third best out of 200 competitors in the international pizza competition in Las Vegas!

The minute you walk in to Crust & Craft in Midway Galleria you can see the flickering flames adding their crunchy char to pizzas and C&C’s particularly good side dishes. Next door in Midway Center is the longtime Pizza Villa. Not only are they known for their pies, but they put out a very good cheesesteak. Another tucked-away sleeper in Rehoboth is the DaNizza truck at Revelation Craft Brewery. This thin-crust delight is well worth the search. They cook their wings the same way. Consider yourself warned.

Around the corner at the westernmost end of Rehoboth Avenue are Casa DiLeo’s New York-style pies. Pete’s Steak Shop in Rehoboth Marketplace - in spite of the name – also whomps up a fine pizza. Get the thin & crispy. Another place where you would not immediately expect a fine pie is Dogfish Head Brewpub. This busy spot also toasts with wood.

You can’t talk pizza in Lewes without invoking the name of Alex Kotanides. Pat’s Pizzeria in Mariner Plaza dishes up two entirely different varieties: a traditional round pie, and Alex’ favorite, the very cheesy Greek-style pizza. It’s served in squares and reheats perfectly at home on a 500 degree preheated pizza stone. As me how I know.

Up the road and around the corner, Chris, Erikah and crew crank out a consistently tasty product at Full Belly Bistro (plus some pretty amazing daily specials). Just around the corner is Mara DePace’s Sorrento restaurant with a choice of 11 different pies. Back downtown, new kid on the block Chris Agharabi will soon open Ava’s Pizzeria and Wine Bar in the old Jakes seafood spot at the corner of N. First and Baltimore Avenue. Open flames from a huge oven will crisp up his made-every-day crust.

Dewey Beach sports two longtime mainstays for good pizza: Franco LaRagione’s Mama Maria’s, and Mama Celeste. Late-night weekends bring long lines to both. Search out your own favorites and let me know what you think.

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