Photo courtesy of DE.CO
So, you and your coworkers are craving lunch and don’t know whether you want chicken and waffles, Indian or sushi. No worries now that DE.CO food hall is open in downtown Wilmington in the historic DuPont Building. Launched by The Buccini/Pollin Group and Seawall Development, DE.CO offers everything from lunch to desserts to libations. Food halls can overwhelm with all the choices available, so we’ve made it easy by mapping out what’s on the menu.
(Stations are listed in clockwise order starting at the Pizzeria Bardea station. Pick up a print copy of Delaware Today’s October 2019 issue for a visual map of the space.)
The menu at Pizzeria Bardea focuses on pizzas, salads and one sandwich, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: The idea for a pizzeria came before the well-known James Beard semifinalist Bardea Food & Drink opened on North Market Street, says co-owner Scott Stein. When the downtown restaurant began to pick up speed, however, the pizzeria plans were put on hold. When Stein and co-owner Antimo DiMeo heard about the food hall, they saw an opportunity to get their pizzeria off the ground while cross-marketing their established eatery. “It’s been a balancing act,” Stein says.
What’s on the menu: The menu focuses on 11-inch pizzas, salads and one sandwich, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. The pizzas are neo-Neapolitan and made with double–zero flour, creating a light, airy crust that provides a fulfilling lunch without making you feel like napping, Stein says.
Best sellers: The Upside Down Pizza, which puts the tomato drizzle at the top of the pizza rather than below the cheese, also includes fresh mozzarella, Grana Padano, ricotta and garlic oil. The Strawberry Cobb Salad includes chopped iceberg, egg, crispy pancetta, avocado, gorgonzola and citrus tahini.
What’s next: Stein says the eatery always offers a “pizza of the day.” In the fall, they plan on making a few menu changes, but not to customer favorites.
Baltimore-based Connie’s Chicken and Waffles brings a variety of comfort food combos to DE.CO./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: After doing a popup at the R. House food hall in Baltimore, Shawn and Khari Parker were interested in a more permanent setup. The brothers visited Wilmington and instantly knew they wanted to be a part of DE.CO. “(We) fell in love with the city,” Khari says.
What’s on the menu: The eatery makes a variety of chicken and waffle combos, along with shrimp options. The Parkers pay homage to their mother with the name Connie’s, having been inspired by her home-cooked meals.
Best sellers: The buttermilk waffle with chicken breast tenders is a favorite, but Shawn says the chicken box with chicken tenders and fries is also a standout.
What’s next: The Parkers say customers should expect sandwiches and wings in their own “Connie’s Sauce” to join the menu.
Phubs is similar to a Panera Bread for Vietnamese food, according to the shop’s owners./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: Started by brothers Paul and Chuong Nguyen, this Vietnamese eatery was inspired by a taste of home. The Nguyens grew up eating their parents’ pho and decided to learn to make it themselves. Bringing it to Wilmington was a bonus.
What’s on the menu: Expect plenty of pho and bánh mì options, plus rice and salad bowls. Paul says to think of Phubs as a sort of Panera Bread for Vietnamese food. “It’s good to have both soup and sub,” he says.
Best sellers: Pho is the top seller, but the rice and salad bowls are also a hit, especially in the spring and summer, Paul says.
What’s next: For the fall, the brothers are working on adding a bánh mì taco.
Check back regularly for the vendor in this location, as it changes in two- or four-week increments.
At Verandah, customers can find traditional Indian dishes and street food./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: Hailing from Baltimore, owner Radhika Sule heard about the food hall through Seawall Development. Knowing they were one of the developers on the DE.CO project, Sule said yes to expanding her business to Wilmington.
What’s on the menu: Customers can find traditional Indian dishes and street food, ranging from masalas and curries to various chaats and wraps. “A lot of casual Indian food,” she says.
Best sellers: Favorites include the chicken kabob, in either a bowl or a wrap, chicken tikka masala and the house specialty, chicken curry.
What’s next: Sule says the eatery is working on featuring more Indian street food, like Indian-style burgers, sandwiches and dosas, an Indian crepe.
Customers will find fresh açaí bowls, as well as soups and sandwiches at Stripp’d./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: Originally from Philadelphia, Stripp’d owner and founder Khoran Horn was contacted by building developers Buccini/Pollin Group about joining the food hall. After seeing the plans for the project, Horn was sold. “The relationship just seemed natural,” he says.
What’s on the menu: Stripp’d is all about creating fresh, made-from-scratch juices, bowls, salads and other dishes. “If we can make it, we will,” he says. The food hall offerings reflect the original menu from its Old City Philadelphia location, but with a few tweaks.
Best sellers: Açaí bowls and overnight oats are popular. While the açaí bowl didn’t start as an original menu item for the pressed-juice purveyors, it’s now a huge part of their business, Horn says. The overnight oats are exclusive to the food hall location.
What’s next: As the weather gets cooler, Horn says it’s important to offer customers food items that mirror that. “We want to change with (the seasons) as well,” he says. The stall will feature made-from-scratch soups and fall-themed salads.
Sushi rolls and poke bowls fill the menu at Al Chu’s Sushi./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: Al Chu, a veteran sushi chef formerly of Mikimoto’s, has returned to Wilmington after a short stint in Maryland. As DE.CO began to take shape, the food hall reached out to him to open a stall. Chu hesitated at first, but says he signed on immediately once he saw the space, which gave him “chills.”
What’s on the menu: A variety of sushi rolls and poke bowls fill the menu, along with appetizers. The sushi stall offers combo plates before 2 p.m.
Best sellers: Al’s Signature roll with fried shrimp, avocado, spicy sauce, crabstick and eel sauce is a huge standby, along with all the poke bowl options. Chu’s Magic Soy Sauce is made with wasabi, soy sauce and jalapeño.
What’s next: Chu aims to keep the menu simple so that buying lunch is quick and easy. For the fall, expect a few additions in the form of miso and dumpling soup, along with the possibility of one or two other dishes.
Find innovative and tasty desserts at Spark’d./Photo courtesy of DE.CO
Origin story: This bakery and coffee stand is a spinoff of the Hotel DuPont’s pastry kitchen, says Leah Steinberger, its executive pastry chef. To provide customers with a retail bakery experience, taking over a stall in the food hall made sense. “It was kind of a natural marriage,” Steinberger says.
What’s on the menu: Steinberger creates innovative and tasty desserts, ranging from cakes to cookies to bars. She also combines savory with sweet to offer patrons novel confections with interesting taste profiles.
Best sellers: Croissants and creative cookies.
What’s next: The menu changes seasonally and on a whim depending on what’s on hand or sparks inspiration, Steinberger says.
DE.CO, 111 W. 10th St., Wilmington, decowilmington.com.