A Year of Change in the Restaurant World

The ever-evolving dining scene never disappoints. Here’s the year in review.

The restaurant scene at the beach can change faster than winter weather. Goodbye, Capriotti’s. Hello, Nonna’s. So long, Tuscan Grill. Welcome, Ambrosia. And though things upstate have changed less quickly in recent years, the past 12 months have brought some significant developments.

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Chef MacGregor Mann is over—way over—the label farm-to-table, so he describes his Junto (100 Ridge Road, Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, Chadds Ford, Pa., 484-574-8041, www.juntobyob.com) as a “modern farmhouse.” Food is locally sourced and seasonal, of course, but also inspired by “anyone who ever lived off this land before us,” he says.

On the Wilmington Riverfront, River Rock Kitchen (818 Shipyard Drive, Wilmington, 654-2900, www.riverrockkitchen.com) has opened in the new Westin Hotel, where chefs David Lattomus and Kristin McGuigan blend the traditional and the new to create sophisticated plates for cosmopolitan travelers and locals alike.

With Satsuma Asian Kitchen + Bar (1707 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, 656-3015, www.satsumakitchen.com), chef Michael di Bianca, mastermind of the popular Moro a few blocks away, has created a lively nightspot downstairs and fun, intimate dining upstairs, where he twists sushi and Asian street food into delightful new forms.

The Italian restaurant community may be very crowded in northern Delaware, but in the case of Vincenza & Margherita Italian American Bistro (117 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 479-7999, www.vmbistro.com), there is certainly room for one more. The dining and lounge areas glow with violet light. The pasta is made by hand.

Pete Kalesias just celebrated one year of the US 13 Grill & Catering (1115 S. Governors Ave., Dover, 730-3551, www.us13grill.com), where you’ll find diner favorites such as liver and onions with good steaks, chicken, seafood and breakfast all day.

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The latest hotspot in Sussex last summer didn’t open at the beach. It was the new Abbott’s on Broad Creek (280-6172, www.abbottsgrillde.com) in Laurel, where the deck offers a stunning view of the creek. The food is exactly what you’d expect from the original Abbott’s Grill in Milford.

Ami Rae, former owner of Vintage Café, opened The Backyard (211 Broadkill Road, Milton, 684-3440, www.backyardmilton.com) to much acclaim. Partner Edith Enriquez’s scones and macarons are on display at the register. Partner Joseph Charles leads a kitchen that turns out local, seasonal dishes.

Chef Mike Clampitt purchased Po’ Boys Creole & Fresh Catch (900 Palmer St., Milton, 684-0890, www.poboyscreole.com) in January, where he spins the cuisine of the Big Easy into something homey and different through specials such as lobster mac ’n’ cheese with tasso ham. The gumbo is still “second to none,” he says.

At cozy Modern Mixture Too (102 Federal St., Milton, 664-1228), owner Leo Cabrera offers the same eclectic menu as the original Modern Mixture in Rehoboth Beach. “It’s Mexican with an international twist,” he says, which means you can order a burrito and falafel.

The opening of The Gate House of Lewes (109 W. Market St., Lewes, 313-5912, www.thegatehouseoflewes.com) was a sensation. The bistro is a family affair, run by Gretchen and Chip Gates and sons Taylor and Wilson. Gretchen is a graduate of Cordon Bleu, and Taylor and Wilson are CIA alumni. The locals are pleased.

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Michy’s Relaxed Dining (19287 Miller Road, No. 17, Rehoboth Beach, 227-0999,www.michysrelaxeddining.com) has been quietly winning fans since spring. Richard and Michelle Davis offer a little of everything, with influences from around the world.

Photo by Steve Legato

​Junto, Chadds Ford

Photo by Ron Dubick

​Michy’s Relaxed DIning, Rehoboth Beach

Crab lovers welcomed the arrival of the aptly named Crab House (19598 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 227-2019, www.crabhouserehoboth.com), where you’ll find raw-bar items, a seafood menu and lots of steamed crabs in a bright, cheerful space.

With the World Cup played in Brazil, the timing couldn’t have been better for Meg Hudson to open Lula Brazil (234 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 212-2755, www.lulabrazil.com), a seafood restaurant (with steaks) that draws on the many styles of Brazilian fare.

The Cellar Door (20 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-1004, www.cellardoor-onbaltimore.com) in the Atlantic Sands creates Cajun-inspired comfort food such as wood-fired oysters and jambalaya.

Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria (210 Second St., Rehoboth Beach, 212-2409, www.papagrandes.com), the second location (the original is in Fenwick Island next to sister restaurant Catch 54), serves Latino street food with a twist. Scrapple tacos, anyone?

At Ambrosia Restaurant and Wine Bar (19 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-1600, www.ambrosiaofrehoboth.com), Christos and Susan Sfetsas offer Italian favorites and seafood specialties, including crab cakes, natch.

Nonna’s Sweet Treats (67 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3263) offers specialty coffees and lots of homemade sweet treats from Nonna Catherine Rossi-Beck’s family recipes. You’ll find cannoli, pizzelles, tiramisu, butter-rum cake, ricotta pie and more.

Farther south, Onur Cekmecelioglu opened Bethany Diner (792A Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, 616-1117), with a menu that travels from Greece (gyros) to Italy (lasagna) to Maryland (crab cakes).

The Den at Bear Trap Dunes (7 Clubhouse Way, Ocean View, 537-5600, www.beartrapdunes.com) opened under new management—and with a makeover. The dinner menu offers small plates, pizzas and entrées. The view is spectacular.

In the Market Place at Sea Colony, brothers John and Randy Fels opened Summer Salts Café (33548 Market Place at Sea Colony, Bethany Beach, 541-5500) Dishes include shrimp-crab-macaroni cheese balls, zucchini fries, burgers, a crab-cake club, prime rib and fish tacos.

Claddagh on the Shore (1106 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 537-4200, www.claddaghbaltimore.com) offers a bit of Ireland (Guinness, rack of lamb) in a breezy room with a touch of Baltimore. Crab cakes and hot crab dip keep company with hot corned-beef sandwiches.

The Crabcake Factory Bayside (37314 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville, 564-7043, www.crabcakefactoryusa.com) rehearsed its show at two older sister restaurants in nearby Ocean City, Md., so the Bayside location is primed. You’ll find Maryland crab soup, cream of crab soup, soft-shell crabs, crab-cake salads and five styles of crab cakes. Get the picture?

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