When Ashley Figueroa and her mother, Donna, decided to open a second business, they went in a different direction from Touchdown Restaurant, the family-run sports bar on U.S. 13. Instead of a full-service eatery, they opted for an intimate Italian market.
“We were constantly going to New York for [Italian] food items and we saw all these new residents in Dover who came from New Jersey and New York,” says Figueroa, whose mother was raised in Staten Island. The time was right, they felt, for something other than pizza in Dover. “Residents are opening their eyes to different foods,” she says.
While you won’t find pizza at Juliano’s Italian Market, you’ll find the dough to make it. You’ll also find Italian cheeses, salamis, homemade soups, meatball subs and sandwiches made with Boar’s Head meats. Bread, delivered from Brooklyn, is so popular that customers order in advance.
Juliano’s is one of the many restaurants that are giving Kent County dining a dash of multicultural flavor. About once a week, Figueroa takes her palate globetrotting at Yukon Korean BBQ & Sushi in Dover.
The Korean restaurant, which opened in 2009, has a faithful following, says Charles Yu, who owns it with his wife, Silvia. “Customers like the food and they like the restaurant—everybody feels comfortable. Customers here are like family.”
Rice Restaurant in Greentree Village Shopping Center in Dover, which offers Chinese and Japanese cuisine, continually tops the list of residents’ preferred Asian restaurants. Move from the “Romantic Roll”—made with spicy tuna and avocado—to Happy Family, a Chinese dish with seafood, chicken, beef and pork mixed with vegetables.
For Thai, there’s Bangkok Thai Cuisine in Dover, which owner Sopita Limphong opened in 2008 to plug a niche. “We do Thai in the authentic-style,” says Limphong, a native of Thailand. Drunken noodles—wide rice noodles stir-fried with bell peppers, carrots, bamboo shoots and basil—is a consistent favorite. (thairestaurantindover.webs.com)
Flavor of India delivers the exotic cuisine of that country to the county. Tucked in Super 8’s lobby in Dover, the restaurant hosts a daily lunchtime buffet. Customers often order the chicken tikka masala, says manager Tony Singh. But if you feel adventurous, try goat curry, cooked in gravy rich with ground spices. (flavorofindiade.com)
Kent County has its own La Tonalteca, the Mexican food chain with a statewide presence. But for papusas with Central American flair, foodies go to Sabor Latino Restaurant in Milford.
El Pipil in Dover is attached to the Spanish grocery store Tienda Latina, whose customers come from Central and South America, Africa and the Caribbean.
Caribbean food fans have their own go-to spot, thanks to Karibbean Link, which sells jerk chicken and curried goat, and Spice on 300, both in Smyrna. (karibbeanlink.net)
Now more mainstream than ethnic, soul food is thriving in downtown Smyrna at Oh’ Phoebes BBQ and Deli, where customers clamor for tangy pulled pork, tender ribs, collard greens, and rice and beans. (ohphoebe.vpweb.com)
An old barbecue spot, Wally’s on North Main Street in Smyrna, closed, and owners have renovated the property. Realtor Eric Howlett says entrepreneurs kicking the tires have had something in common: Many wanted to open a takeout shop with ethnic cuisine.