At Bardea Food & Drink, the bar is continually raising.
The Italian eatery, located at 620 N. Market St. in downtown Wilmington, is celebrating its second year open with an updated menu focused on innovative dishes. They’re also continuing to pivot the way they do business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding a covered and heated outdoor garden for guests to dine in.
The restaurant also expanded its Bardea At Home program, offering guests the opportunity to order a five-course dinner for two to enjoy at their own dinner tables.
Everything Bardea has done is for the guests, co-owner Scott Stein says. He wants the restaurant to be a safe space for customers to feel good knowing protocol is being taken seriously and they can step away from the current struggles and enjoy a good meal.
“I just want people to feel comfortable,” he says.
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Stein says every year on the anniversary of operation, Chef Antimo DiMeo and team set out to update the menu. On Oct. 10, the restaurant unveiled its Bardeo 3.0 menu, including some new dishes mixed in with beloved favorites.
Stein says DiMeo placed a large focus on being plant forward and using vegetables in new ways. This includes the beet sashimi, a vegetarian play on raw tuna made with ruby red beets, sunflower and bergamot zabaglione.
Bardea also upgraded the snacks section of the menu, adding a potato tartlet made with leek agrodolce and salmon roe. In small plates, the restaurant added tiger prawns, DiMeo’s upgraded version of coconut shrimp with coconut, romesco and spruce tip beurre monté.
Patrons can also try DiMeo’s take on his grandmother’s staple, Nonna’s Meatballs—prepared with scamorza, heirloom tomato and basil gremolata.
The list of new dishes continues with an updated pasta section that includes smaller, tapas-style dishes as well as additions to the Feed the Table section, which include a whole rohan duckling prepared with thomcord grape and fermented cherry a’jus that’s broken down tableside.
“It’s quite the treat,” Stein says.
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But Bardea didn’t stop at the menu to offer guests a new experience. The Bardea Winter Garden opened this week to extend outdoor seating into the colder months. Stein says they tried to recreate the restaurant inside of a tent with the same tables, chairs, carpet and decor.
The Winter Garden will also include heaters to make patrons comfortable even when the nights get chilly. The garden allows Bardea to begin offering reserved seating for the outdoors, something they couldn’t guarantee when they only had the patio space.
And for those who want to continue to dine at home, the Bardea at Home program allows guests to choose a five-course meal, rotating from Tuesday to Saturday. Meals are priced at $75 for two people and include a snack, salad, vegetable, main course and dessert. Plus, a complimentary bread board with flavored butter, oil and salt.
Stein says while this has been a challenging time for Bardea and all restaurants, he and his team are focused on the now and continuing to be a part of the downtown Wilmington community.
“We’ve got to live in the moment,” he says.