While dutifully sorting through all the restaurant openings and closings of the past year in preparation of the annual dining guide, to appear in the February issue, your Insider noted that there was so much action, there isn’t enough space in the magazine to print non-restaurant items. That means food retailers and the like got squeezed out. So just to remind you of a few significant developments, check this out.
Brothers Lou and Frank Bascio of the new Frank & Louie’s Italian Specialties in Rehoboth left the rapidly expanding and highly popular Touch of Italy last year. Their new store offers Italian cheeses, meats, sandwiches, dry goods and prepared dishes. Frequent visitors will get to know the owners. “We’re in the trenches every day,” Lou Bascio says. “We want to keep it small with a personal touch.” (227-5777) Meanwhile, Touch of Italy opened a bakery in the Village of Five Points, a complement to its Lewes and Rehoboth locations, and opened another restaurant next to Root Gourmet in Shore Plaza on Del. 1 in Rehoboth Beach. The openings make four locations at the beach. touchofitaly.com
We can always make room for more wine. New to Marydel: Harvest Ridge Winery. Named after the farm that is its home, the beautiful new facility is the work of Chuck and Chris Nunan, who run the business with their children. Chuck Nunan began making wine in his basement in 1995, then, during a trip to Charleston, S.C., in 2010, he visited a winery that inspired to do something more. He and Chris bought the property as a family farm in 2005, then decided to create Harvest Ridge. The first vines—chardonnay, viognier, malbec and merlot—were planted in 2011, and now there is wine. Open daily from noon till 5 p.m., Harvest Ridge offers tastings of its five wines for $5—and you get to keep the glass. The place is also open for large functions such as meetings and weddings. 343-9437, harvestridgewinery.com
Brit Andy Meddick has saved the day for cheese freaks, opening Morgan & Gower Cheesemongers in Rehoboth Beach. There you’ll find 240 cheeses in continuous rotation, with 170 in stock at any time. The inventory includes everything from ripe farm varieties to well-aged; soft, semi-firm and firm cheeses; cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses; and some amazing blues, all offered by a staff that knows its stuff. “When we call a farm to place an order, most of the time we’re talking to the man or woman who made the cheese,” Meddick says. You’ll also find charcuterie, produce, spices and seasonings, other foods and daily treats from the Artisanal Grilled Cheese Sammich Bar. If you haven’t finished shopping, cheese makes a great gift. 727-5566, facebook
“It’s a real sensory experience. You walk in, and the aroma just hits you,” says Brenda Pfautsch, manager of the nearly year-old Spice & Tea Exchange in Rehoboth Beach. For more on this one, check out the January issue when it hits. 227-3327, spiceandtea.com
It’s difficult to pin down the origins of the traditional Italian seven fishes dinner of Christmas Eve. Some say it represents the seven holy sacraments of the Catholic Church. Some say the seven cardinal sins. Some believe it represents the seven days it took Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem, or the seven hills of Rome, the seven winds of Italy or the Seven Wonders of the World. No matter. The important thing to know is this: Through Dec. 20, Soffritto Italian Grill in Newark will be offering a traditional feast of seven fishes for the holiday. Book your table, then relax and enjoy. It’s the best meal of the year. 455-1101, soffritto.com