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Creations from Just Desserts in Chadds Ford, Pennsylania. Photograph by Jared CastaldiThere’s no way around it, waistbands: Cookies are an integral part of the holidays, and your family fiesta or office gathering will thank you to leave it to the pros. So put away the cookie press and hit up one of our local cookie monsters.

Recently relocated, Just Desserts Cafe (330 Kennett Pike, Suite 111, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 507-8028, justdessertscafe.com) does big holiday business on the strength of cookie trays loaded with white chocolate-cherry chunk, oatmeal raisin and sugar cookies.

Holiday nostalgia is alive and well at Sweeney’s Bakery (2068 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-5884, sweeneysbakery.com), thanks to shaped sugar cookies and gingerbread houses.

Dolce Bakery (36 N. Walnut St., Milford, 422-5760, dolcebakery.com) might be famous for its from-scratch pumpkin rolls, but traditional, hand-decorated sugar cookies and thumbprints are big sellers.

What’s a chrusciki? Find the airy Polish sweets at Serpe and Sons Bakery (1411 Kirkwood Hwy., Elsmere, 994-1868, serpesbakery.com) this month, as well as trays stuffed with assorted cookies and pizzelles.

Bakers at Bing’s Bakery (253 E. Main St., Newark, 737-5310; 10 W. Green St., Middletown, 449-1500, bingsbakery.com) decorate their homemade butter cookies as well and as festively as their prized cakes.

Shimmy past the salami inside Touch of Italy (33 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-1500) and straight to the tangy Italian wedding cookies, almond macaroons, and sfogliatelle.

What else but traditional Italian cookies—pizzelles, amaretti and pine nut-studded pignoli—at Papa’s Pastry Shop (600 N. Union St., Wilmington, 777-0877, papaspastry.com)? Get them by the 2-pound tin. —Matt Amis

Page 2: Flipping at 55

 

Co-owners Dennis Forbes and his daughter Desiree Di’Antonio share a laugh at Restaurant 55 in Dover. Photograph by Jared CastaldiFlipping at 55

You’re never too old to flip burgers. Just ask Dennis Forbes, owner of the venerable Dover fish-house Cool Springs. He’s turned his new venture, Restaurant 55, into a high-end burger joint gastropub.

Christened when Forbes came to the startling realization that he was about to turn 55 (“And I should know better,” Forbes jokes), the restaurant specializes in burgers made from Wyoming’s Witt Bros. Market meat. Entrée salads and honest pub fare like hand-cut fries and potato chips are also part of the menu.

Forbes’ daughter Desiree Di’Antonio, who has spent more than 32 years in and around the restaurant business, is a partner and the general manager. Forbes will split time between Cool Springs and 55. It’ll be a relatively short commute—55 and Cool Springs share a diminutive shopping center near Rising Sun.

“Dover is pretty excited,” Forbes says. “We see it as sort of a red-meat alternative to Cool Springs.”

The new 55 isn’t as seafood-centric as Cool Springs, but it counts salmon burgers and tuna burgers among its upscale burger selection. A brand new 24-seat bar area serves 12 craft brewed beer (plus root beer from Dover’s Fordham Brewery). Entrées fall in the $10-$13 range. —Matt Amis

Page 2: Pizza Wheels, continues…

 

Pizza Wheels

Around New Castle County farmers markets last summer, customers caught a curious sight. Among the carts of apples and sweet corn, there sat a cherry red 1956 Ford F250 truck. Strapped inside the truckbed: an 850-degree hardwood burning pizza oven.

It was chef Matthew Hans and his Wood Fired Pizza Truck, and he is bringing crispy gourmet pizzas wherever the action is. But this isn’t just delivery, it’s the whole operation: The Truck turns out thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pies hot to customers in under two minutes.

People began noticing Hans and his truck at the Rodney Square Farmers Market last summer. He also rolls into the Newark Co-op Farmers Market every Sunday. During the winter, he will mainly stick to events in Newark and Wilmington.

Hans comes from a fine dining background. He worked at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Baltimore for several years before accepting a corporate chef gig at the Compass Group near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Hans relishes using local, seasonal ingredients. At the Newark Co-op Farmers Market, he might top a pie with marinated eggplant or fennel. At Rodney Square, the bank crowd comes out for pepperoni, peppers, onions, sausage and a white pizza made with garlic-roasted olive oil, ricotta cheese and spinach. Grab one for $9, or a slice for $2.

To follow the Wood Fired Pizza Truck, go to woodfiredpizzatruck.com. –Matt Amis

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