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Delaware Today’s Editors and Critics Name Their Favorite Places To Eat

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A handmade crab cake made with jumbo lump crab meat is served with sweet corn succotash and Nage’s famous homemade tomato jam.  Photo by Dakota Fine

American Restaurant
Bar
Bar Menu
Beef
Best-Kept Secret
Bistro
Breakfast Place
Brewpub
Best in Bridgeville
Burgers
Burritos
Casual Seafood
Ceviche
Chinese
Coastal Italian
Cocktail Selection
Coffee Shop
Crab Cakes
Crab House
Desserts
Dining Events
Dinner and a Show
Family Place
Farm-to-Table Dining
Fine Dining
Fish and Chips
French Cuisine
French Fries
Gastropub
Gourmet Pizza
Greek Restaurant
Happy Houar
Healthy Fare
Homemade Pastas
Indian Restaurant
Italian
Italian Food at the Beach
Japanese Restaurant
Lunch Spot
Mexican Restaurant
Best in Millsboro
Neighborhood Italian
New Restaurant
Outdoor Dining
Pasta Dishes
Pizza
Place to Watch a Sunset
Pub-Tavern
Raw Bar
Best in Rehoboth
Restaurant Variety
Ribs
Romantic Atmosphere
Sandwiches
Seafood
Best in Smyrna
Soups
Steakhouse
Sunday Brunch
Sunch Brunch Buffet
Sushi
Tavern
Water View Dining
Wine List

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American Restaurant

Upstate
We love the menu at Harry’s Savoy Grill. Having a sister restaurant that specializes in seafood means you also get a nice selection of raw bar items. The warm crabmeat-artichoke dip is rich and comforting. 2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-3000, harrys-savoy.com

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Bar

Upstate
Here’s a novel idea: a legit pub atmosphere (lots of brick, wooden floors and exposed ceilings) and a selection of about two dozen great beers on tap. Throw in a solid menu. It’s no wonder Washington Street Ale House is packed most nights. 1206 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 658-2537

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Bar Menu

Downstate
A great bar menu starts with a great bar. At David Twining’s Nantuckets Restaurant, it’s cozy and lively. Order a Smoked Martini—gin, scotch and smoked oysters—then tuck into a bowl of the famous quahog-scallop chowdah or one of Nanny’s crab cakes. 601 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 539-2607, nantucketsrestaurant.com

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Beef

Upstate
The dry-aged New York strip at At the Rail Wine Bar & Grill is a thing of beauty—perfectly aged beef is grilled and finished with fire-roasted mushrooms and other delicious toppings. It’s a great spin on a classic. Did we mention the view? 777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington, 994-6700, whiteclaycreekgolfcourse.com

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Best-Kept Secret

Upstate
Tucked into the Hilton Wilmington-Christiana, Brasserie Grill offers a menu of steak house favorites—all certified Angus beef—with a bounteous haul of fresh seafood. The wine list offers many worthy matches. 100 Continental Drive, Newark, 781-7000, brasseriegrille.com

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Bistro

Upstate
Eclipse Bistro
, never take the pappardelle with short rib Bolognese off the menu, or the fried calamari. The sliced olives are a brilliant touch. 1020B N. Union St., Wilmington, 658-1588, platinumdininggroup.com/eclipse

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Breakfast Place

Upstate
Hollywood Grill
would get the nod for its Belgian waffles alone. They’re thick, light as air, grilled to golden goodness and available with several fresh fruit toppings. But what clinches it is the always-friendly service—a big plus when you haven’t had your first cup of coffee. They never let your mug get empty. 1811 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 655-1348, hollywoodgrilldelaware.com

Downstate
Big rolls of cinnamon-spiced dough dripping with gooey brown sugar and your choice of walnuts or raisins are made fresh every day at Dirty Harry’s Restaurant. If the wait for breakfast is too long, you can pick up a couple, then head to the beach with a hot cup of coffee—but we recommend waiting for breakfast anyway. 100 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 539-3020

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Brewpub

Upstate
Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant
continues to be an awards juggernaut, raking in medals from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. Brews like its Russian Imperial Stout are great, and there is plenty of well-executed pub food, such as the popular, heart healthy turkey burger. 147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000; 710 S. Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739, ironhillbrewery.com

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Best in Bridgeville

The 300-seat Bridgeville institution known as Jimmy’s Grille is acclaimed for fried chicken, homemade dumplings, sky-high meringue pies and 3-pound cinnamon rolls. It’s a bastion of down-home cooking. It’s also a thriving catering business with a banquet hall. 18541 S. Main St., Bridgeville, 337-7575, deweybeachlife.com

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Burgers

Upstate
They’re flame-broiled at the Charcoal Pit, and that makes all the difference. Choose a quarter-pound burger or a bigger one, either “deluxe” or “special.” 714 Greenbank Road, Wilmington, 998-8853; 2600 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-2165; charcoalpit.net

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Burritos

Upstate
At El Diablo, you’ll find them filled with everything from real steak to marinated chicken to braised short rib. You’ll find guacamole and beans, but you’ll also find such touches as goat cheese. ¡Muy sabroso! 13A Trolley Square, Wilmington, 691-5532, eldiabloburritos.com

Downstate
We just can’t get enough of the shrimp and crab burritos at Dos Locos Stone Grill. They’re fat with fresh fillings. Who knew guacamole could taste so good with seafood? 208 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3353, doslocos.com

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Casual Seafood

Downstate
Lobster deviled eggs? Why hadn’t someone thought of it before? Leave it to Matt Haley of Matt’s Fish Camp to put a spin on the food we like best. Go for the seafood combo. It ain’t your standard deep-fried or over-broiled beach-town food crime. 28635 Coastal Hwy., Bethany Beach, 539-2267, mattsfishcamp.com

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Ceviche

Upstate
With 1,500 miles of coastline, Peru is famous for its ceviche. It only follows that The Chicken House Charcoal Grill would have the best around. We enjoy fancier versions at fine restaurants, but this is the real deal: lots of fresh fish and scallops, onion and tomato kissed with cilantro and lime. 1224 Capitol Trail, Newark, 737-2426, thechickenhouserestaurant.com

Downstate
If you’re going to eat fresh fish, you might as well do it by the sea. Head to Mariachi Restaurant to enjoy an appetizer of brightly flavored white fish with everything that makes ceviche such a joy. 14 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-0115, mariachirehobothde.com

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Chinese

Upstate
Chefs at The Crownery train in Hong Kong and mainland China, which comes as no surprise when you taste the food. All ingredients are fresh, so you’ll find none of the canned sauces served at cheap take-aways. 228 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-3825, thecrownery.com

Downstate
Authentic cuisine and sophisticated decor have earned rapturous praise for Confucius Chinese Cuisine from world travelers. “The cuisine is so fine,” says one. “I’ve not had better in Hong Kong and around the world. It’s international cuisine at its best.” 57 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3848, confuciusrehobothbeach.com

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Coastal Italian

Upstate
One word: pescatore. At La Casa Pasta, that means heaps of shellfish in fresh red sauce over tender noodles. Or opt for the grilled fish of the day—always fresh. 120 Four Seasons Pkwy., Newark, 738-9935, martuscelliandsons.com

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Cocktail Selection

Upstate
At Deep Blue Bar and Grill your mixologists take the time to make their own infusions, then turn them into original creations like blueberry margaritas made with fresh fruit purée. 111 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 777-2040, deepbluebarandgrill.com

Upstate
The barkeeps at Columbus Inn take time to purée fresh peaches, squeeze fresh orange juice and prepare their own honey syrup for their drinks.  Offerings range from the classic Moscow Mule and Tequila Sunrise, some with new twists. 2216 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 571-1492, columbusinn.com

Downstate
In travels far and wide, we’ve never seen a drink like the Smoked Martini at David Twining’s Nantuckets Restaurant. Start with good gin. Add good Glenlivet Scotch. Shake with ice. Pour into a classic martini glass. Drop in a smoked oyster. Feel the glow. The cozy taproom is the perfect place for enjoying a true original. 601 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 539-2607, nantucketsrestaurant.com

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Coffee Shop

Upstate
The garden at Traders Cove Coffee Shop in Penn’s Place is absolutely charming, a perfect spot for enjoying a rich latte while a breeze blows off the river. There is simply no place like New Castle, and in New Castle, there is no place like the patio at Penn’s Place. 206 Delaware St., New Castle, 322-6334, pennsplace.net

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Crab Cakes

Upstate
We measure restaurants by the quality of their crab cakes. At Courtyard by Marriott, they’re large, subtly seasoned and made with jumbo lump crab meat. Newark, 400 David Hollowell Drive, Newark, 737-0900, marriott.com

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Crab House

Downstate
Ike and Elva Burrows buy crabs right off the dock out front, making Sambo’s Tavern a truly authentic local dining experience, not unlike eating a lobster roll at a roadside stand in Maine. The classic crab cakes are made with meat from local crabs and include little filler. 283 Front St., Leipsic, 674-9724

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Desserts

Upstate
Did you say, “Did You Say Bacon? Sundae”? Only the great minds at Chelsea Tavern would think of it—and you never know what’ll they’ll think of next. A plea: Please bring back the salt-crusted, caramel-covered shortbread cookies and homemade beignets with peanut butter dipping sauce. Did you say “to die for?” 821 N. Market St., Wilmington, 482-3333, chelseatavern.com

Downstate

It’s the chocolate ganache atop the tiramisu that won The Buttery a first place at the competitive Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival a few years ago. We’re also fond of the pecan pie and sampler of creme brûlées. 102 Second St., Lewes, 645-7755, butteryrestaurant.com

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Dining Events

Upstate
The Hotel du Pont may not host them as often as others, but special dinners there are truly special. We give you A Night to Remember in The Green Room, when the culinary team re-created the meal served on the Titanic the night it sank. Truly wonderful. 42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 594-3100, hoteldupont.com

Downstate
With regular beer tastings and its Women and Wine series, as well as a full slate of cooking demos, SoDel Concepts gives local foodies several good reasons to dine out at its fine restaurants, such as Northeast Seafood Kitchen and Lupo di Mare. Rehoboth Beach, 228-3786, sodelconcepts.com

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Dinner and a Show

Upstate
After dining on some of Luigi’s famous homemade pasta at Luigi Vitrone’s Pastabilities Restaurant, ask your host to escort you to Old Skool Antiques and Collectibles next door to view the collection of furniture and accessories he has amassed over the years. The house is full of treasures, including an original Tiffany lamp. 415 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 656-9822, ljv-pastabilities.com

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Family Place

A screeching baby—face covered in tomato sauce—sits in a high chair, bawling his eyes out. It’s all good at Grotto Pizza, where families gather for all occasions. Why not? Grotto’s swirly pizza pies may be the First State’s most popular comfort food. locations statewide, grottopizza.com

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Farm-to-Table Dining

Downstate
Special farm-to-table dinners are big events at Nage, which sources the best in Sussex produce and seafood as a matter of course. 19730 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 226-2037, nage.bz

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Fine Dining 

Upstate
Black uniforms, white-glove service, the elegant decor—there is no place like The Green Room of the Hotel du Pont, the grandest restaurant in town. Most know about its fumed oak paneling, coffered ceiling, gold chandeliers and original oil paintings. What people may not know is how difficult it is to earn a AAA Four Diamond rating. Nominees must be upscale in all areas, and hospitality must be consistently excellent. The Green Room has earned more than 20 in a row. 42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 594-3100, hoteldupont.com

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Fish and Chips

Upstate
At Stoney’s British Pub expect them the way a real Brit would do it. Thank owner Mike Stone for his authentic recipe. It’s a secret, natch. 3007 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 477-9740, stoneyspub.com

Downstate
At go fish! and its sister restaurant, go brit! the fish is fried according to owner Alison Blyth’s mum’s secret recipe, and they are peerless—light and crispy outside, moist and meaty inside. 24 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-1044, gofishdelaware.com; 18388 Coastal Hwy., Lewes, 644-2250, gobrit.com

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French Cuisine

There are, arguably, two French restaurants left in Delaware, but only one that has shunned the Americanization of French cuisine. Bon Appetit Restaurant offers country pâté, chicken Champignon and other traditional dishes in an atmosphere graced by lace curtains, candles and fresh flowers. 312 High St., Seaford, 629-3700, bonappetitseaford.com 

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French Fries

Upstate
There’s an upcharge when you substitute the white truffle-Parmesan fries for the batter-dipped fries that usually come with your sandwich at the World Café Live, but they’re worth every penny. The subtle flavor of truffle blends magically with the hint of cheese to create a flavor that is just made for potatoes. Two Stones Pub is hip to the truffle treatment, too, and we couldn’t be happier. Two Stones Pub 2, Chesmar Plaza, Newark, 294-1890, twostonespub.com; World Cafe Live, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington, 994-1400, queen.worldcafelive.com/restaurant

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Gastropub

Upstate
No gastropub is complete without lots of beer. Ulysses American Gastropub boasts 24 taps with a steady rotation of interesting brews, not to mention great food, including mussels any way you want them. 1716 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 691-3456, ulyssesgastropub.com

Downstate
The Pickled Pig Pub, brought to you by the good people behind Pig + Fish, offers plenty of microbrews from around the world, bottled and on tap, and great food, of course. 18756 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 645-5444, pickledpigpub.com

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Gourmet Pizza

Downstate
From a brewery that has succeeded wildly with creative experiments in beer comes equally creative and delicious pizza at its Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats restaurant. To wit: the Revolutionist with roasted garlic olive oil, aged goat cheese, caramelized onions, green apples and fresh thyme on a crust that, like all the wood-grilled pizzas, is made with a bit of unfermented ale for a distinctive flavor. 320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-2739, dogfish.com

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Greek Restaurant

Upstate
Sitting in an unassuming strip mall, European Bistro is often overlooked. It shouldn’t be. Find all your Greek favorites. Start with lemon-chicken soup or stuffed grape leaves. Continue with a lamb-beef gyro (the meat is ground and grilled, not roasted) or moussaka. Finish with nutty baklava. European Bistro offers more than Greek, but when you’re craving tangy tzatziki or good spanakopita, you’ll find it at very reasonable prices. 1710 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 529-7773

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Happy Hour

Upstate
It doesn’t take special drink prices to lure us to the Hunt Club Lounge in Hilton Wilmington-Christiana for happy hour. We simply like the clubby decor—comfortable and refined. A plate of Angus sliders goes perfect with a game on TV. 100 Continental Drive, Newark, (800) 348-3133, hiltonchristiana.com

Downstate
We’ll take a classic margarita with the bay view from the bar at ¿Que Pasa? When the sun is shining, nothing makes us happier. 124 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 226-1820, ruddertowneusa.com

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Healthy Fare

Upstate
Few places take the local, natural, farm-to-table approach as seriously as Fresh Thymes does. It offers delicious homemade soups. Weekends bring hearty buckwheat pancakes. And no one else has thought to offer guacamole and sauerkraut in the same omelet. (It sounds weird, but it tastes divine.) 1836 Lovering Ave., Wilmington, 656-2026, facebook.com/freshthymes

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Homemade Pastas

Upstate
Chef-owner Matthew Curtis of Union City Grille has won awards for his lasagna and meatballs, so he knows his way around Italian. Whether you sample his handmade linguine in clam sauce, gnocchi with goat cheese and mushrooms, or fettuccine pomodoro, you’ll see why UCG has succeeded so well in Little Italy. 805 N. Union St., Wilmington, 654-9780, unioncitygrille.com

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Indian Restaurant

Upstate
It doesn’t get any better than India Grille, which touts itself as “the land of one thousand and one spices of Indian cuisine.” The homemade food here, indeed, makes you feel right at home—in India. The chicken tikka masala is the finest in the state. 3456 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 478-2428, indiagrille.net

Upstate
It isn’t strictly traditional, but everything at Zaikka Indian Grill is made fresh, so it hasn’t sat in a steam table for half the day. The atmosphere is cheerful, and owners Anu and Sandeep Nagpal are always happy to see you. We especially like the naan rolls. Think burrito or wrap, but with delicious naan. 209 N. Market St., Wilmington, 543-4958, zaikka.com 

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Italian

Downstate
Roma
used to be Dover’s favorite pizza shop—until it got dressed up and became a full-fledged restaurant. For years now, it has offered the best Old World cuisine downstate. Why? Chef Joey Garramone Jr. uses his father Guiseppe’s recipes, which are about as deliciously old-school Italian as it gets. Classics include veal scallopini, chicken Parmigiana and veal saltimbocca. 3 President Drive, Dover, 678-1041, romadover.com

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Italian Food at the Beach

Downstate
Chef-owner Lisa DiFebo-Osias of DiFebo’s Modern Italian Grill cooks the food her family loves. That’s everything from classic cheese ravioli in red gravy to grilled mahi mahi topped with capers and artichokes in tomato broth. Have your filet or strip steak crusted in Gorgonzola. Enjoy your veal in a Marsala cream with lumps of crab and mushrooms. Best of all, DiFebo’s is a family affair, so you’ll be treated like family, too. 789 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach, 539-4550, difebos.com

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Japanese Restaurant 

Upstate
The first family of Japanese dining in Delaware still does it best at cozy Okura Japanese Cuisine Restaurant. You’ll find tempuras and teriyakis, rice and noodle dishes, chicken satay and pork shumai, and some of the freshest sushi and sashimi around. 703 Ace Memorial Drive, Hockessin, 239-8486, okurarestaurant.net

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Lunch Spot

Upstate
Items like the Bistro BLT keep us interested in Corner Bistro year after year. Bacon of pork belly is topped with peppery arugula, tomato jam and an aïoli of caramelized shallots on a fresh baguette. The chicken salad is some of the best anywhere. 3604 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-1778, mybistro.com

Downstate
The remodeled 33 West Ale House and Grill reflects a fresh approach to food and drink. It’s conveniently located in downtown Dover, and it’s the place where you’re most likely to run into the people you most want to see. Fast, friendly service gets you in and out on time—though there’s no rush if you don’t want to hurry. The crab cake sandwich is always a winner. 33 W. Loockerman St., Dover, 735-9822, 33westde.com

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Mexican Restaurant

Upstate
Riding a wave of immigration in the early 1990s, La Tolteca became the restaurant that mainstreamed Mexican fare in Delaware. The local chain—of La Tolteca and several La Tonaltecas—has flourished even as new Mexican restaurants have opened. We still can’t resist its homestyle burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tamales or chilaquiles. 2209 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 778-4646, and locations statewide, authenticmex.com

Downstate
There was major buzz when Agave Mexican Grill opened six years ago. Locals learned that owner Chris McKeown had just returned from Mexico, where he toured 15 distilleries in Jalisco, the center of the tequila industry. As a result, Agave offers dozens varieties, not to mention an impressive list of authentic Mexican fare. The buzz continues. 137 Second St., Lewes, 645-1232, agavelewes.com

Downstate
When the big garage door on the second floor is open, Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria feels more like a cantina on the Gulf of California than the hottest new restaurant in Fenwick Island. But don’t expect a strictly Mexican menu. It shows Latino influences from around the world.. The bar stocks most of the tequilas available in Delaware. 38929 Madison Ave., Fenwick Island, 436-PAPA, papagrandes.com

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Best in Millsboro

Serving a little bit of everything, The Georgia House is the place to go for Eastern Shore faves like buttermilk fried chicken and delicious cream of crab soup, as well as comfort plates like meatloaf and pot roast. There is plenty of great seafood, natch, plus steaks and pasta. 119 Main St., Millsboro, 934-6737, eatgh.com

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Neighborhood Italian

Upstate
One thing that qualifies Piccolina Toscana as a “neighborhood” place is the Sunday buffet. Another is the convivial bar. The clincher is authentic Italian food like salt-cod croquettes with horseradish aioli, and fried olives stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and Gorgonzola. Finally, some iteration of Toscana has anchored Trolley Square for more than 20 years. 1412 N. DuPont St., Wilmington, 654-8001, piccolinatoscana.com

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New Restaurant

Upstate
Exposed brick walls and rich wood tones give Pochi Chilean Cuisine and Wine Bar a warm feeling that’s perfect for a unique dining experience. You’ll find plentiful seafood dishes, as well as dishes from land and a list of South American, mostly Chilean wines. In a restaurant landscape that needed something different, Pochi delivers. 220 W. 9th St., Wilmington, 384-6654, pochiwinebar.com

Downstate
The old Rose & Crown: safe domestic drafts, standard sandwiches, iconic. Veteran beach chef Jay Caputo’s new Rose & Crown: expanded selection of craft brews, delicious gastropub fare, a welcome resurrection. Now in the Hotel Rodney, the reborn pub offers short rib sliders, the best shepherd’s pie you’ll ever taste (owing to the duck confit) and a bacon burger with the bacon ground into the beef and more. Welcome back, R&C. 142 Second St., Lewes, 827-4475, roseandcrownlewes.com

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Outdoor Dining 

Upstate
Aqua Sol Restaurant
looks over the Summit North Marina and C&D Canal. A beautiful deck and flat vista mean great breezes and unparalleled sunset views of the Summit and Chesapeake City bridges. 3006 Summit Harbor Place, Bear, 365-6490, aquasolrestaurant.com

Downstate
The rooftop of The Cultured Pearl Restaurant & Sushi Bar gives you a terrific view of lively Rehoboth Avenue, but the labyrinth of koi-filled lagoons transport you to a different world. 301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-8493, culturedpearl.us

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Pasta Dishes

Upstate
Order a dish of pasta made by the chef’s caring hands at Capers & Lemons. Standouts include butternut-filled pansotti with green peas and prosciutto and classic lasagna. 301 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, 256-0524, platinumdininggroup.com

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Pizza

Upstate
We hail Pizza by Elizabeths owners Betsy LeRoy and Betty Snyder for giving us gourmet pizza. We appreciate the 60 toppings—pesto, mushroom duxelles, fontina, prosciutto—that allow us to build individual creations from the crust and sauce on up. 3801 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 654-4478, pizzabyelizabeths.com

Upstate
Grotto Pizza
is bright and cheerful, with sports on TV for the adults and, in some locations, arcade games for the kids. From pizza to spaghetti to chicken fingers, the menu satisfies all. various locations, grottopizza.com

Downstate
We enjoyed the cozy booths and overhead model train at the original First Street location of Nicola Pizza. We love the big, newer restaurant on the Avenue. 8 N. First St., Rehoboth Beach, 227-6211; 71 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-6211; nicolapizza.com 

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Place to Watch a Sunset

Downstate
From the expansive deck of The Rusty Rudder—it juts right into the water—you’ll see that golden orb sink slowly into Rehoboth Bay. Sublime. 113 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 227-3888, therustyrudder.net 

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Pub-Tavern

Upstate
Ernest & Scott Taproom
is all about craft brews. You won’t find anything close to commonplace here. Some are cask-conditioned. All are worth exploring. The food is every bit a worthy match for the brews. We recommend grazing appetizers while enjoying a flight of beer samplers. 902 Market St., Wilmington, 384-8113, ernestandscott.com

Downstate
Striper Bites creates the ideal beach atmosphere—a seaside-cottage look, live music, plenty of beer. The menu gets a regular makeover, but some things remain constant: great seafood dishes, burgers and more. 107 Savannah Road, Lewes, 645-4657, striperbites.com

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Raw Bar

Downstate
Fins Fish House and Raw Bar
keeps a number of its regular 30-plus oysters in rotation at all times. From Nova Scotia and New England south to Louisiana, and Chincoteague west to Washington, Fins covers the continent in search of varieties to add to its list. You’ll find oysters that are briny, oysters that are sweet, some that are citrusy and some that are buttery. The snobbiest wine drinker would be intrigued by the regional differences, but there’s no better accompaniment than a cold beer. Fins offers a nice range of American craft brews and imports. 243 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-3467, finsrawbar.com

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Best in Rehoboth

What can we say? The Big Fish Grill has racked up Best of Delaware Awards for seafood, salads, appetizers, desserts, service, family dining—even fish market, for its onsite store. It’s one of the biggest winners in the recent years of our readers poll. 20298 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 227-9007; 720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474, bigfishriverfront.com bigfishgrill.com 

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Restaurant Variety

Upstate
Not only was the food court at Christiana Mall expanded and updated a couple years ago, but Ruby Tuesday got a makeover that made us look twice. Add nice sit-down places like J.B. Dawson’s for steaks and Brio Tuscan Grill for Italian, and you’ve got a one-stop place for any craving. 132 Christiana Mall, Newark, 731-9815, shopchristianamall.com

Downstate
Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
offers everything from upscale steaks and seafoods at Michele’s to Italian at Frankie’s to a raw bar at Doc Magrogan’s to delicious homestyle food at the Festival Buffet—and that’s only the half of it. You never have to leave. 1131 N. DuPont Hwy., Dover, (800) 711-5882, doverdowns.com

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Ribs

Upstate
We discovered J.B. Dawson’s in Drexel Hill several years ago. We were elated when it opened at Christiana Mall. The ribs are meaty, tender and tangy, and sides such as good baked beans or spiced apples couldn’t be more appropriate. Christiana Mall, Newark, 369-4000, jbdawsons.com

Downstate
The baby back ribs at Where Pigs Fly are hickory-smoked and charbroiled Southern-style. 617 E. Loockerman St., Dover, 678-0586, wherepigsflyrestaurant.com

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Romantic Atmosphere

Upstate
It’s a tough call, so we chose two. The music at elegant Culinaria is subtle yet relaxing, the lighting is perfectly dim and the colors are Tuscan. And, as you know, anything Italian is romantic. You don’t have to love felines to feel the heat at Krazy Kat’s Restaurant, but it doesn’t hurt. The scrumptious cuisine and lovely lighting are enticing, but the whimsical decor makes you chuckle—and laughter is sexy. Culinaria, 1812 Marsh Road, No. 10, Wilmington, 475-4860, culinariarestaurant.com; Krazy Kat’s, 528 Montchanin Road, Wilmington, 888-4200, krazykatsrestaurant.com

Downstate
A classical Colonial design gives the The Brick Hotel Restaurant & Tavern the sort of historic authenticity that transports diners to a different world. 18 The Circle, Georgetown, 855-5800, thebrickhotel.com

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Sandwiches

Upstate
Crazy Bone Café
is all about fresh ingredients and plenty of them at a reasonable price. It’s also about unique combinations, such as citrus-lime chicken salad with diced pineapple and dried cranberries, sliced brie and lettuce, all topped with crushed pecans. Crazy—but delish. 3100 Naamans Road, No. 2, Wilmington, 477-1544, crazybonecafe.com

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Seafood

Upstate
Chef David Leo Banks of Harry’s Seafood Grill certainly knows how to make a mignonette, and it keeps us going again and again to sample the ever-changing selection of oysters on the half shell. More fishy lures? Unique sashimi—anything but traditional—and ceviche with a twist. The staff works hard at sourcing fresh, unique fish from around the world. 101 S. Market St., Wilmington, 777-1500

Downstate
Favorites like crab-stuffed rockfish and delectably simple preparations such as grilled sea bass over asparagus show why chef Dennis Forbes’ Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant is a classic. 2463 S. State St., Dover, 698-1955, coolspringsfishbar.com

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Best in Smyrna

The Smyrna Diner is a landmark. Great diner food is served by caring waitresses who call you “hon” while doling out the best chicken and dumplings, pancakes and sausage gravy in town. 99 S. Cory Lane, Smyrna, 653-9980, smyrnadiner.net

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Soups

Upstate
The silky pumpkin-mushroom soup at The Back Burner is legendary. There’s a good reason for legends. 425 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin, 239-2314, backburner.com 

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Steakhouse

Upstate
Walter’s Steakhouse
remains the quintessential Wilmington restaurant experience. 802 N. Union St., Wilmington, 652-6780, walters-steakhouse.com

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Sunday Brunch

Upstate
Chelsea Tavern
debuted a brilliant brunch menu in the fall a couple years ago, one that brims with good frittatas, unique versions of eggs Benedict (turkey and avocado anyone?) and waffles—including waffles in a PB&J. 821 N. Market St., Wilmington, 482-3333, chelseatavern.com

Downstate
The gold standard in Kent for many years, Michele’s continues to tweak its menu and approach to keep longtime customers happy while drawing new ones. Steak and seafood rule, but you’ll find something for everyone. That includes a terrific Sunday brunch. 1131 N. DuPont Hwy., Dover, 674-4600, doverdowns.com

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Sunday Brunch Buffet

Upstate
We still believe that Deerfield is tops. Never mind the ice cream table and selection of favorite boxed cereals (for adults as well as kids). Any buffet that includes a raw bar gets our vote. 507 Thompson Station Road, Newark, 368-6640, deerfieldgolfclub.com

Downstate
Abbott’s Grill
doesn’t offer a brunch buffet every Sunday, only on special occasions, so you’ll want to plan a new celebration for Mother’s Day and Easter. You’ll find an omelet station; a carving station with roast beef, lamb, ham and brisket; a raw bar; several cold salads; crab crepes; plus housemade pastries and desserts. 249 NE Front St., Milford, 491-6736, abbottsgrillde.com

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Sushi

Downstate
The Cultured Pearl Restaurant & Sushi Bar
—the original sushi place at the beach—is still the best because the emphasis has always been on authenticity. 301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-8493, culturedpearl.us

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Tavern

Upstate
The Deer Park Tavern
, a college town classic, is known for its association with Edgar Allen Poe. It offers something for everyone, whether it’s lunch, dinner, cocktails or Sunday brunch. The Deer Park is famous for its nachos, and its beer selection won’t disappoint. Two levels of wrap-around porches are excellent spots for outside drinking and dining. 108 W. Main St., Newark, 369-9414, deerparktavern.com 

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Water View Dining

Downstate
Bluecoast Seafood Grill
is situated right on the shore of Salt Pond, near Indian River Bay, and the dining room window faces due west, so you’ll see the sun drop into the surrounding water and woods in what is one of the most beautiful vistas in the state. 1111 Coastal Hwy., Bethany Beach, 539-7111, bluecoastseafoodgrill.com

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Wine List

Upstate
Owners Michael and Beth Ross have stayed true to founder Tom Hudson’s original vision for Domaine Hudson Wine Bar & Eatery: Make lots of good wine available to all. That has kept the list—with bottles from every major wine region in the world—a favorite among such services as OpenTable.com and Trip Advisor. 1314 Washington St., Wilmington, 655-9463, domainehudson.com

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