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Savor, The Review, Too: Updated, but Not Overboard

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Seared ono with a salad of cherry tomatoes, lobster and crab is served over saffron rice, then finished with basil oil.
Photograph by Keith Mosher www.kamproductions.com

Blending culinary styles and ethnic ingredients—a style known as fusion—was still new to Delaware when Fusion, the restaurant, opened in Rehoboth in 1995. Now, breaking new ground can be a challenge.

Unlike places that get a jolt when new owners take over, Fusion has a sense of continuity. When co-owner Jeff Thiemann left, chef Bill Karrow joined Jonathon Spivak, then, in January, bought him out.

Karrow’s cuisine still represents a mix of cultures. Beloved Fusion favorites include the Peking duck salad, sea bass with an Asian bean marinade and ginger sauce, and the chocolate tower.

Considering Fusion’s reputation, I was surprised by the menu’s size. There were only four to five items in each category, excluding specials. The wine list, however, offers over more than selections.

Our 2005 Shooting Star Blue Franc complemented grilled jumbo shrimp slick with a honey-jalapeño barbecue sauce. The crustaceans became livelier when dipped in the sriracha crème fraiche. The wine also paired well with wild boar quesadillas, which got a welcome kick from pepper jack cheese and jalapeño crème fraiche.

In comparison, the eggplant and goat cheese Napoleon disappointed. The piquant cheese dominated the dish, and the stack collapsed when we cut it. We were also unimpressed by the Hawaiian sunfish, which drowned in a bland lemon-beurre blanc. Staff must have heard our comments. It was deducted from the bill, without request. (Fusion has no lack of customer service, despite the fact our server, a new hire, needed to get acquainted with the menu and wine list.)

We got back on track with the center-cut filet, which was so rich and juicy, I thought it had been roasted rather than grilled. Perhaps that was due to its size. Normally 5½ ounces, the filet is priced at $23. I ordered a double cut for an additional $12.

The shrimp-and-crab pomodoro was our favorite. Large tender shrimp nuzzled generous portions of lump crabmeat in a vibrant nest of wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and perfectly cooked linguine. A spritz of basil olive oil enhanced the sensation of impeccable freshness. The chocolate tower is equally satisfying. Silky chocolate mousse, homemade whipped cream and fresh berries fill a lattice tower of gleaming chocolate. “It’s been a staple of the restaurant,” Karrow says.

Though the staples deserve their hall of fame status, I sense that Fusion is staying too close to its safety zone. In competitive Rehoboth, I’d like to see it dance on the cutting edge. Otherwise, the name could become a liability.

D


Ross owners Ellis Richardson (left) and Petros Theodorakos break crust together
Photograph by Pat Crowe II

American Pies

The battling Betsy Rosses have gone Buddhist. That is to say, there is no battle at all. And there never has been.

Contrary to rumor and speculation in Kent County, multiple Betsy Ross Pizza locations—two in Dover, one in Harrington—are not enemies. They’re as tightly knit as a well-formed stromboli.

The old-school pizza parlors, fully festooned with fake hanging plants and Ms. Pac-Man machines, were all once owned by the Theodorakos family, who began business in 1977. They eventually sold the Harrington location to a longtime employee, Ellis Richardson, who kept the Betsy Ross name and recipe catalogue.

Three locations, two owners, one name. Got it?

“We’re not related,” says Richardson. “There is no franchise tag on the Harrington restaurant. We’re independent.”

Independent though it may be, the Harrington restaurant made a few subtle changes to the classic Betsy Ross menu—enough, apparently, to confuse more than a couple visitors.

For instance, a large Betsy Ross Special—a 16-inch pie swimming with pepperoni, ground beef, mushrooms, onions, green pepper, sausage, black olives and anchovies—costs $15.50 in Harrington. It’s only $14.95 in Dover. Betsy Ross Harrington also introduced a deep dish Chicago-style pizza this year, an item that’s conspicuously absent at Betsy Ross Dover.

Have the changes sparked any bad blood, any—dare we say—food fights?

Not at all, says Petros Theodorakos, who owns both Dover locations.

“Ellis is a very nice man,” he says. “He worked for my father for many years.”

OK, so maybe there won’t be any flag-waving revolutions in Kent County, at least not of the pizza variety. But at least they deliver.

—Matt Amis


Joe Zambini and Anita Koleva sample the wares of Stortini Imports.
Photograph by Christian Kaye www.transitdesigns.com

A Taste of Italy

Dining at a local Italian restaurant, you eagerly delve into your appetizer, stabbing a slice of tomato.

The loaded fork approaches your mouth, then you sink your teeth into the tomato’s sweet, juicy flesh.

The burst of flavor floods your mind with images of sun-soaked southern Italy.

Experiences like this one don’t come from the supermarket, and in fact, neither does your tomato.

Since November, Stortini Imports has been providing upscale local restaurants with such traditional Italian food staples as olive oil, coffee, cheese, capers, mushrooms and, yes, tomatoes.

“We saw a need for a better product, and what we provide is a cut above—a big cut above—what you can find in the supermarkets,” says Joe Zambinini, the company’s marketing director,

Zambinini grew up eating Italian food. He travels to Italy twice a year, and still has relatives in Naples, where the company finds most of its imported items. The business name comes from another Italian, Mike Stortini of Wilmington, the entrepreneur who financed it.

The company hopes to expand soon into the cosmetics and toiletries market, with all-natural products like citrus and olive oil deodorant, soap and natural make-up.

Zambinini anticipates the negotiations lasting until the first of the year.

We hope to see the fruits of the talks soon after. —Katie Moscony

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