Wilmington’s Little Italy has a wealth of culinary signatures: spezzato at Madeline’s, red gravy at Mrs. Robino’s. Fresh pasta. Hot pizza. Panzarotti.
This month the neighborhood welcomes chocolate chili, Armageddon wings and Flintstone ribs to the block. Better hide your bathroom scale. 2 Fat Guys American Grill, a Hockessin fave for over-the-top offerings like the lumberjack steak, the Fat Boy ice cream sundae and the peanut butter-loaded Elvis burger, opens its second location this month.
Titular fat guys Jeff Cook and Tom Craft will re-create the family friendly look and menu of their Hockessin digs in the Union Street property once occupied by Pala’s Café, home of the “World’s Worst Pizza,” which closed its doors in 2007 after more than 60 years.
The Guys will utilize both floors of the building, Cook says, with the second level available for small banquets and private parties. He says a second location came at the request of customers who live or work in Wilmington and yearned for an easier way to get their Fat Guy fix. Now the city and its people can welcome them with chubby arms. —Matt Amis
Page 2: Welcome to Milford
Welcome to Milford
The town that produced seven state governors and famed underground cartoonist Robert Crumb may not register high on the fine dining meter, but this winter, Milford’s dining scene received a shot in the arm from a crew of experienced foodies.
Abbott’s Grill (249 N.E. Front St., Milford, 491-6736) is the handiwork of Kevin Reading, the co-owner and executive chef of Rehoboth Beach’s acclaimed Nage. His team includes Nage co-owner Josh Grapski and former Bonz chef Ryan Cunningham, himself a former chef at Nage.
Making up the menu are down-home Southern dishes, but with a few uptown twists. Think flat iron steak with chimichurri sauce and chicken and dumplings made with gnocchi.
“We stuck to a lot of familiarity, but with our own twists,” Cunningham says, pointing to dishes like Cajun meatloaf, lobster pot pie and beer-braised mussels. “It’s not diner food, it’s not too sophisticated, but hopefully somewhere in between.”
A little good humor also plays a role in Abbott’s Grill. Witness the whopping Kill-it Skillet—a Sunday brunch item consisting of macaroni and cheese, chorizo sausage, bacon, fried potatoes and a fried egg. Or try the Holy Cow—a roast beef sandwich with Swiss cheese (get it—holey?). The accompanying bar, with its nightly drink specials and 17 TVs, is known as Bald Jason’s Pub—named after a follicle-challenged friend. “We’re trying to make the place fun, a place people around here can call home,” Cunningham says.
Abbott’s, which took root in the former Smith and Co. Restaurant in the Milford River Plaza Shopping Center, is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. —Matt Amis
Page 3: Italian on a Budget
Italian on a Budget
With the opening of Frankie’s in September, The Colonnade at Dover Downs received a dose of Italian flavor and some Rat Pack flair. Frankie’s is wood-paneled and decorated with caricatures of the Rat Pack and famous Italians such as Joe DiMaggio, Luciano Pavarotti and Sophia Loren. Servers at the 140-seat restaurant all wear black fedoras trimmed in gold.
“What we tried to do is create an authentic, casual, fun environment for our customers,” says George Fiorile, vice president and general manager of hotel operations at Dover Downs.
Fiorile says the restaurant’s name was inspired by the feel of a traditional Italian neighborhood. In fact, eating at Frankie’s can feel just like eating at home. Several of chef Giovanni Cardillo’s dishes are available family-style, and Frankie’s makes its pasta fresh on the premises.
Some of the restaurant’s popular dishes include chicken Parmigiana, linguine with clams, and spaghetti and meatballs.
Along with high-quality food comes great prices. Most entrées are less than $15, and brick oven pizzas—including the Ol’ Blue Eyes and Dean’s Favorite—cost less than $9.95.
“You can go to Frankie’s and get homemade Italian pasta for 10 bucks,” Fiorile says. “In today’s economy, people appreciate that.” —Alexandra Duszak