In the past year, Delaware diners have celebrated the opening of several new restaurants, and lamented the demise of others. Here’s a sampling of the changes.
Let’s start in North Wilmington with the Pizza Hut, a longtime landmark on the corner of Marsh and Veale roads. The parking lot grew increasingly empty even during peak dining periods. It’s gone, and Sage Diner (North Wilmington, 543-4377, sagedinerdelaware.com) has taken its place. The parking lot is now jammed with folks who want traditional diner favorites, including Greek and Italian specialties.
Not surprisingly, breakfast is a hit at the diner. It’s also the main attraction at Egg (Rehoboth Beach, 227-3447, eggrehoboth.com), which is on the traffic circle in McQuay’s old market. Don’t expect the usual. Here you’ll find peanut butter French toast and the Paleo Pleasure, made with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and a sunny-side-up egg. The restaurant also serves lunch.
The Brown Derby (Toughkenamon, 610-268-8252, brownderbypa.com) has risen from the ashes, thanks to Chef Ray Maxwell, who grew up down the street. Likewise, Donnie Scalessa has returned to Wilmington’s dining scene. You may remember him from Scalessa’s, an Italian café that opened and closed twice. He recently opened a corner restaurant in Trolley Square called Scalessa’s Old School Italian Kitchen (Wilmington, 656-1362). The Facebook page promises that the food is prepared “Donnie’s Way.”
Juliana’s Kitchen, a Peruvian restaurant located just off Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilmington’s Little Italy, quietly closed. The city also lost Pochi Restaurant, which offered Chilean cuisine. Happily, Little Italy gained the eclectic Strauss’ Bar & Eatery (Wilmington, 654-4400, Facebook) on Union Street, nicely remodeled since the former occupant, Bella Luna, closed. New Castle County gained a Chicken House location in Middletown (376-7793, thechickenhouserestaurant.com). This is the third restaurant for the Chicken House, which specializes in liberally seasoned rotisserie chickens with a zesty yellow dipping sauce.
The Newark Shopping Center, which has undergone extensive renovations, lost Saigon Vietnam but gained Churrascaria Saudades (Newark, 355-5551, eatsteaks.com), a Brazilian steak house that opened last spring. The concept, which is popular in Philly, involves “gauchos,” who stroll the dining room with spears of beef, chicken, pork, lamb and sausage.
Nawabi Hyderabad House Biryani Palace (Stanton, 294-6430, hhdelaware.com) opened in the Omega Shopping Center. Biryani is a rice dish with many variations. Get an individual portion, a family pack or a jumbo container to go. Nasi (Bear, 838-6274, nasidelaware.com) continues the trend of combining Southeast Asian cuisines. In this case, it’s Malaysian, Thai and sushi.
As for French cuisine, Bistro Jacques in Wilmington’s Little Italy closed, and owner Jacques Macq moved to the University & Whist Club (Wilmington, 658-5125, universityandwhistclub.com), where he is managing director. John Hynansky, founder of the Winner Group’s auto empire, is the new owner of the longtime establishment, which was renovated.
Those who want French-inspired cuisine can head to La Fable (Rehoboth Beach, 227-8510, bonjourfable.com). The new restaurant took over the lower-level space formerly occupied by the shuttered Mixx. Here you’ll find onion soup, canard a l’orange and steak au poivre.
La Fable’s owner is Megan Kee, who once owned Bramble & Brine with then-husband Joe Churchman. He reopened Bramble & Brine on his own, but it closed late last year when the building’s owners decided to sell.
Espuma in Rehoboth Beach is also fini. The Vineyard Wine Bar & Bistro is scheduled to open in its place. It’s the sister restaurant to The Vineyard Wine Bar in Havre de Grace, Md. (443-502-2551, vineyardwinebar.com). It will be welcome now that the short-lived Bacchus Wine Bar in Milton shut its doors.
Espuma was originally owned by Kevin Reading, who is a partner in the new Brick Works Brewing and Eats (Smyrna, 508-2523, brickworksde.com). Eric Williams of Mispillion River Brewing is also involved in the restaurant.
There’s been a lot of activity on Del. 1 at the beach. SoDel Concepts opened a second Matt’s Fish Camp (Lewes, 644-2267, mattsfishcamplewes.com) last year. A second Bluecoast is due in June. If all goes as planned, Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen will open a second location on Del. 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. The original restaurant is in Ocean City, Md. Delaware residents no longer need to chase Rosenfeld’s food truck to enjoy knishes and fat corned beef sandwiches.
For something a little lighter, served with a libation, take a barstool at Merchant Bar (Wilmington, 543-5574, merchantbarwilmington.com) or The Copperhead Saloon (Greenville, 256-0535), both of which opened last year.
Of course, the chains keep a comin’. Witness the opening of Ted’s Montana Grill (Christiana, 366-1601, tedsmontanagrill.com) and Outback Steakhouse (Dover, 244-3425, outback.com). A Shake Shack is scheduled to open in the Christiana Fashion Center, also home to Ted’s, early this year.
For The Greene Turtle (thegreeneturtle.com), steady evidently is winning the race. The Ocean City, Md.-based chain opened a Christiana site late last year. There are now five in Delaware. But perhaps one of the most interesting additions is Lefty’s Alley & Eats (Lewes, 864-6000, iloveleftys.com), which offers bowling, dining and laser tag in one location behind the Wawa. It’s owned by Chad Moore, whose family has The Bellmoor Inn. La Vida Hospitality, which owns Fork + Flask at Nage and the Crooked Hammock Brewery, is handling the food. Let the games begin!