Asked to define the perfect key lime pie, Mickey Donatello chuckles. “The crust is crushed up graham crackers, butter and sugar. How could anything bad come of that?”
Donatello should know. The key lime pie at his Corner Bistro has been a signature item since the doors opened nine years ago. Customers say it’s the best they’ve ever had, in or out of Key West. Even the culinary gospel known as Southern Living called it the best in Delaware.
The secret? The custard is made with real key limes, and the whipped cream is made fresh. But still, crafting great key lime pie is far from easy. It requires hard-fought flavors—not sickly sweet, not too tart. The milk is boiled for three hours in a can to get it right. “If you’ve had it, it’s just like silk,” Donatello says. (3604 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-1778)
More key lime greatness can be found at Patsy’s Restaurant, where creamy Key West-inspired pies get a heaping dose of whipped cream and fresh lime zest. (121 Campbell Place, Bethany Beach, 537-2433)
Steve Hagen’s Just Hooked and Off the Hook supplement their seafood-heavy menu with some amazingly dense and luscious key lime pies. (769 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach, 829-1424)
Fine-dining beach stalwarts at Eden build their pies with a graham cracker and sunflower seed crust, fresh whipped cream and a slug of Domaine Chandon Brut. (23 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3330)