Downtown Newark’s annual Restaurant Week is coming. From Jan. 21 through Jan. 27, the city hosts a culinary celebration to highlight the downtown’s diverse restaurants. And it’s one of the most affordable restaurant weeks in the state. Special menus at the 19 participating restaurants show off their best. Three tiers of prix fixe meals are offered, with some restaurants offering more than one tier during the week. Friends & Family Fun Meals feeds a group of four for $22. Two-course lunches are $10. Two-course dinners are $22, and three-course dinners are $28. Participating restaurants are Ali Baba Middle Eastern Restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings, Caffé Gelato, California Tortilla, Catherine Rooney’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Claymont Steak Shop, Cosi, Cucina di Napoli, Deer Park Tavern, Grotto Pizza, Home Grown Café, Iron Hill Brewery, Kildare’s Irish Pub, Klondike Kate’s, Pat’s Pizzeria/MVP Sports Lounge, Santa Fe Mexican Grill, Stone Balloon Winehouse, Taverna Rustic Italian and The Saigon Restaurant. Check the menus at enjoydowntownnewark.com/restaurantweek.
New and Noteworthy
We’ll have a whole lot to tell you about changes on the restaurant scene when the annual February dining guide comes out in a couple weeks, but here are a few additions, presented here just to whet your appetite.
Big Sissies Bar & Grill
Enjoy pub grub elevated to new heights—tacos of jerk chicken, meatloaf with mushroom gravy, fired pickles—in a contempo-cool space. Love the corrugated still ceiling. 37385 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-7600, bigsissiesrehoboth.com
The kind of neighborhood place the neighborhood has needed for awhile, Boulevard serves standards—meatball sandwiches and such—with fun entrées such as rack of lamb with blackberry demi glace. 321 E. Lea Blvd., Wilmington, 765-2583, www.blvdgrille321.com
Go Brit! Fish + Chips
Like its sister, Go Fish! in Rehoboth, this spinoff offers the same great fish and chips, tandoori chicken skewers, mashy peas, sinful sticky toffee pudding and other UK favorites, and the price is right. 18388 Coastal Hwy., Lewes, 644-2250, gobrit.com
A great place for breakfast sandwiches, casual Kay’s serves good homemade food all day, such as spicy chicken biscuits. First Street, Rehoboth Beach, 226-5400
Mike & Nick’s Italian Sports Bar
Lotsa pasta, a handful of chicken and beef entrées, subs, steaks and half-pound burgers will fuel your cheering and other game-day hijinx. 300 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-9600, mikeandnicks.com
Morgan & Gower Cheesemongers
Why, oh why, didn’t someone do this sooner? Andy Meddick brings artisan cheeses, charcuterie and prepared specialty foods to The Shops at Celebration Mall. A grilled cheese bar was planned for after the new year. 20 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 727-5566, morganandgower.com
Food-on-the-go melds Latin and Mediterranean flavors in California-style burritos, tortas—including a good Cuban—salads and gyros. 62A Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-0600, modern-mixture.com
More good food to go means reasonably priced, untypical comfort fare such as pot roast in red-wine reduction and grilled chicken with raspberry chutney, all served with equally interesting sides. 19724 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 727-5664, rootgourmet.com
Brick-oven pizzas, homemade pastas and authentic Italian meat dishes are served in a contemporary country-styled room of reclaimed barn lumber, all with a view into the kitchen. It’s a welcome addition to Newark. 121 E. Main St., Newark, 444-4334, platinumdininggroup.com
Two Stones Pub
The Newark place was such a success, North Wilmington needed one, too. Good gastropub fare pairs with a wide selection of craft brews. 2502 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 439-3231, twostonespub.com
Ulysses American Gastropub
From the people who brought you Six Paupers Tavern in Hockessin comes a modern farm-to-table menu and 24 taps loaded with a constant rotation of craft brews. Striped walls seal the deal. 1716 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 691-3456, ulyssesgastropub.com
Ina Garten was a nuclear policy analyst for the White House when she made a big mid-life change by opening a gourmet foods store, Barefoot Contessa, which she has parlayed into a career as an author of cookbooks, magazine articles and, most recently, the popular Food Network show “Barefoot Contessa.” She’ll visit The Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Feb. 19 to talk about food and life with News Journal food writer Patricia Talorico, and you’re welcome to ring in. 652-5577, thegrandwilmington.org
The Ethnic Tour Continues
Delaware’s Mediterranean restaurants are influenced by Greek, Lebanese and Moroccan cultures. Lebanese cuisine is known for its starches, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, poultry, lamb and seasonings, primarily garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Moroccan meals generally start with hot and cold salads followed by a tagine, or stew, then lamb or chicken with couscous. Greek cuisine follows suit with garlic and fresh lemon, but fuses onions, olive oil, parsley, oregano, and warmer spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. From those ingredients and fresh meats come dishes like souvlaki, spanakopita, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), gyros, marinated lamb and moussaka (eggplant casserole). Overall, Mediterranean dishes are often grilled or baked with olive oil. Butter or cream is reserved for desserts, most notably baklava, kourambiethes (Greek butter cookies) and galatobouriko (custard-filled phyllo). Here are a few faves. For more on great ethnic dining, click here.
Ali Baba Middle Eastern Restaurant
175 E. Main St., Newark, 628-4555 • Owner Riyad Albaroki also owns Casablanca Restaurant, so he has decorated Ali Baba similarly—sans belly dancers—with couches, pillows, sofa-high tables and wall tapestries. But Ali Baba is totally a la carte. Foods are a combo of Lebanese, Greek and Moroccan. The menu offers spicy green salads, hummus and falafel. Vegetarians are well served here, with mujadara (rice and lentils), falafel wraps, and carrot or eggplant salad. Others would be wise to try the Moroccan chicken and lamb kebabs. The Turkish coffee is brewed fresh.
4010 N. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, 652-5344 • Riyad Albaroki, chef and owner of Casablanca, is a great director. He created a lush, dim Arabesque room with plush couches, pillows and tapestries as the background for a well-produced experience. Moroccan-dressed waiters serve a seven-course set menu of fresh, spicy Moroccan food, offering warm towels to wash hands in between. The overture is stewed eggplant and carrot salad with pita bread, which is followed by cinnamon pastry stuffed with spicy chicken, then beef kabobs, then lemony whole roasted chicken. Cue the belly dancers somewhere between scenes four and five. You may be too full for the delicious baklava, but there’s always room for refreshing mint tea or rosewater with cinammon.
Captain Pete’s Mediterranean Cove
700 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 537-5900 • Captain Pete’s Mediterranean Cove is the only restaurant on the Coastal Highway with a covered deck. The name says Mediterranean, but expect authentic Greek food. Captain Pete Charahus, originally from Sparta, Greece, built the restaurant for his wife, Helen, in 1998. And Helen is a stickler for freshness. That means excellent moussaka, lots of traditional lamb dishes, and fresh grilled fish done Greek style with oil, fresh lemon and oregano. The olive oil and spices are imported from Sparta. Helen’s salad dressing is made fresh with quality wine vinegars.