All Things Worth Trying

Welcome to our seventh annual Worth Trying Issue. Though we feature Worth Trying suggestions monthly, each January we devote much of the magazine to personal recommendations from staff, contributors and friends of Out & About. These suggestions on where and what to eat, drink, see and do are scattered throughout these pages, interspersed with our usual assortment of feature stories, news items and other fun stuff.

Enjoy, and have a very happy New Year!

MISCELLANEOUS PICKS

Annual Book Sale
Fellow bibliophiles, rejoice. Each year, the dead-of-winter dullness—at least for my admittedly-nerdy self—is brightened in anticipation of this event. Friends of the Hockessin Library hosts a sale at Hockessin Memorial Fire Hall, from which funds go to the upkeep of the Hockessin Public Library. Heaps of books of all genres fill a massive room outlined in rows on tables, in piles stacked on the floor—everywhere, books! Here’s the rule: you purchase a large paper bag (or two, or three) for $7 or $8 and fill it to the brim. Veterans know to bring a sturdier burlap satchel for added support, of course, and a few hours later, you exit with ample texts to last through the coming year. This year’s sale is Jan. 26-29.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

meals_on_wheelsDelivering Meals and More
Studies have shown that people who volunteer their time live longer. So live a longer, richer life: volunteer to be a Meals on Wheels driver. These hot, nutritious noontime meals are much more than sustenance. Often, the volunteer driver is the only person the shut-in senior will interact with during the entire day. This nonprofit is in desperate need of drivers. It takes only about two hours of your time, and you can volunteer for as few as two deliveries a month. Call the Meals on Wheels center nearest you: City Fare/St. Anthony Center, Wilmington, 421-3731, or Newark Senior Center, 737-2336.

— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

penn-cinemaPenn Cinema
For years, many pleaded for a Wilmington movie complex – former Mayor James Baker being one of the most vociferous. Today we have a state-of-the-art one on the Riverfront and though it’s been around since 2012, there are still plenty who haven’t paid a visit. You owe it to yourself. Penn Cinema has 14 screens plus IMAX, comfortable leather seats, ample leg room and now serves beer and wine. And it’s within walking distance of a half-dozen restaurants for a meal before or after the show.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

reply_all“Reply All”
I subscribe to a couple of dozen podcasts, but there’s only one I follow with a first-season-of-“Serial” intensity, and that’s “Reply All.” Every weekish, hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman unearth stories that could only exist in our digital age, stories that are at turns riveting (I swear you will care about the story of Wayne, the guy in the episode “Boy in Photo”), heartbreaking (a game designer works through his son’s struggle with cancer in “The Cathedral”), and mind bending (I truly believe it’s at least plausible that Pizza Rat is part of an armada of highly-trained rats unleashed on New York City to create viral content and modern myths, as investigated in “Zardulu”). Technology changes how we relate to one another in the world. “Reply All” gets right to the heart of it.

— Matt Sullivan, Contributing Writer

Be a Good Human
I know. Who am I to tell you what to do? Consider this just a gentle nudge…a friendly reminder to do something small today to support the notion that there are still good humans living among us. Hold a door. High-five a stranger. Pick up litter and toss it in a trashcan. Say hello to your neighbors. Easy things to overlook, but even easier to accomplish.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

vinyl_districtThe Vinyl District Record Store Locator App
So, let’s pretend you’ve been plopped down in Poughkeepsie and you’re wondering if there’s a record shop where you can buy Herbie Mann’s “Push Push” on vinyl. Never fear, that is if you have The Vinyl District Record Store Locator App on your phone. It’s absolutely free for iPhone and Android users, and lists some 3,200 independent record stores in 40 countries, some of them imaginary! If there’s an independent record store in Pyongyang, North Korea, the app’s GPS-based locator will tell you exactly where it is. And the app also displays a vast list of record fairs around the globe by date and location. Finally, it includes a TVD Record Store Club feature that will tip you off to new releases, as well as a host of giveaways, contests, and more. Go to thevinyldistrict.com and download the app today!

— Mike Little, Contributing Writer

westworld-posterWestworld on HBO
Two decades before Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park ran wild on the silver screen, he wrote and directed Westworld, a 1973 sci-fi film about another kind of over-the-top tourist attraction going off the rails. Instead of genetically resurrected dinosaurs running amok, Crichton first imagined malfunctioning androids gunning down thrill-seekers in a Wild West-themed vacation spot. Same game, different park. While the DNA (or binary code) of Crichton’s original Westworld repeats itself in the overall structure of this recently adapted HBO series, the show-runners have cleverly tinkered with the original formula. In this iteration, the robots are drawn as the more sympathetic characters while humans are cold and heartless. The show trudges somewhat aimlessly through its middle episodes, but the finale delivers plenty of twists and tense action. That said, Westworld ultimately is compelling because of the questions it asks along the way about identity, memory and what exactly constitutes consciousness.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

seinfeldiaA Book about a Show About Nothing
If you’re in the search of some “serenity now,” get your “man hands” on Seinfeldia, a compendium of stories about how one of the greatest sitcoms became a cultural phenomenon. There’s plenty of “yada, yada, yada” about the cast, characters and storylines that produced one of the most influential television shows of all-time.

Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer

Train Your Brain
Forget all those invites you keep receiving to play mindless smartphone games like “Farmville” and “Candy Crush,” and instead download “Peak.” This mental gymnastics app will keep your brain jumping through all sorts of hoops, helping you focus and sharpen your memory. In no time, your mind will be as sharp as a tack, and you’ll forget about all those other mindless games.

— Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer

chef_lhulierChef Lhulier Dinner Party
This year, my wife and I hosted two dinner parties at the home of Chef Robert Lhulier. We invited three other couples, carefully selecting a motley crew who didn’t know each other well but would enjoy each other’s company. Chef Robert prepared four courses of food (for $60 a head) and everyone BYO’d the wine and bubbles and brandy. The results: Fantastic, relaxed, delicious evenings filled with great tunes, loud conversation that probably would have gotten us kicked out of most restaurants, and personalized attention from one of the best chefs in Delaware. Chef Lhulier will come to your house too – but he sets a fine table (that you don’t have to clean) at his, while you Uber home. Check out how it works at lhulier.com.

— Matt Sullivan, Contributing Writer

mozart-in-the-jungleMozart in the Jungle
If you think a TV show about a symphony is stuffy, then think again. Amazon Prime’s original series Mozart in the Jungle, whose third season debuted in December, is devastatingly clever. The witty script boasts such well-drawn characters as the eccentric Maestro Rodrigo, played by Emmy winner Gael Garcia Bernal. Bernadette Peters and Malcolm McDowell are also at their hilarious best. The appearance of real life classical heavyweights, including Yo-Yo Ma, add fun and flair. Catch up on Prime.

— Pam George, Contributing Writer

bringing_nature_homeBringing Nature Home
I bought a new (old) home this past spring, and although the lot isn’t very large, it was very overgrown. We ripped everything out and planned to start fresh. While researching ideas, I came across Bringing Nature Home, by University of Delaware professor Douglas W. Tallamy. He makes the case for biodiversity in city and suburban home gardens. He explains how over-development has threatened our ecosystem, why alien plants are problematic (bugs and animals can’t eat them), and provides practical suggestions for how home gardeners can use native plants to make a serious impact. The book made me reconsider my whole landscaping plan, and has me really looking forward to spring.

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media & Distribution

lafate_galleryLaFate Gallery
Jamaican-born self-taught artist Eugene LaFate has a cozy, colorful gallery that houses her vibrant work in the LOMA district of downtown Wilmington. With a personality as warm and charming as her artwork, LaFate has established herself as one of Wilmington’s artist advocates. The gallery sells her originals, prints and postcards; she also offers a variety of workshops and classes. At 227 N. Market St. lafategallery.com. 656-6786.

— Mark Fields, Film Reviewer

rei-_optoutside_anthem_film_15REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
During an REI kayak-camping trip I took this summer in Wyoming’s Teton National Park, I got a firsthand look at how this company operates in a friendly, fun and professional manner. The co-op offers discounts and annual rebates to its members. In addition, it treats employees with tremendous respect: all REI locations are closed for Black Friday, a traditionally huge shopping day during which staffers are encouraged to get out of the store and enjoy outdoor time with their family and friends instead.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Lewinsky’s on Clinton
The name of this Delaware City pub has created quick a few chuckles, but this cozy tavern is a great destination for a beer and a sandwich—perhaps after a stroll along the Castle Trail or a visit to Fort Delaware. The food is tasty, the craft beer selection is solid, and the joint is jumping on weekends with performances by local bands and acoustic acts.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

stuff_you_should_knowStuff You Should Know Podcast
How does a fireplace work? What’s the chemical make-up of Play-Doh? Stuff You Should Know is a podcast that answers these random questions, plus so much more. Pop it on while you’re working or doing chores around the house. Knowledge is power!

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

PACE Network
Have you ever thought about getting involved in the betterment of Wilmington’s public education system? The PACE (Parent Advocacy Council for Education) Network, an initiative of Christina Cultural Arts Center, allows parents and community members to do just that; it joins adults, youth, and educators to imagine, create, and advocate for equity, access and more effective learning in schools and community places. To learn more or get involved, email ccac.pace@gmail.com.

— Sarah Green, Special Projects

dirkgentlyDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – BBC America (On Demand)
Years after the death of author Douglas Adams, his character Dirk Gently—who solves crimes by surfing along with the interconnectedness of all things—finally made it to TV this fall. The result is a great short-run series that combines the sci-fi, comedy and over-the-top weirdness Adams fans came to love in his Dirk Gently novels—with excellent modern updates. Now that the entire series is available On Demand, let the binge watching commence!

— Scott Pruden, Contributing Writer

avoid_the_kioskAvoiding the Kiosk
There is a Panera next to my daughter’s preschool, and we find ourselves there more than I care to admit. They have “Fast Lane” kiosks there—touchscreen computers that allow customers to order for themselves. We walked in the other day and there was no line, but there were three people using the kiosks. My son asked if we could use one too and I said no. Why? Because if everyone uses the kiosks, jobs currently reserved for humans will be replaced by computers. Same goes for the grocery store self-checkout. If the place is packed, I get it. But otherwise, why not contribute to keeping someone employed?

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media & Distribution

PICKS OF THE FOOD VARIETY

traderjoes-this-cranberry-walks-into-a-barTrader Joe’s “This Cranberry Walks Into a Bar…” Cereal Bars
I’ve gotten so many “winning” grocery items from TJ’s, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But this seasonal-only (they usually disappear after January) oat & fruit cereal bar is one of my go-tos—tart, chewy, the perfect-sized mid-day bite. I persistently badger the staff to carry them all year long…so far, no luck.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

tbaar_incTbaar Inc.
Whether you’re looking for a delicious bubble tea, a healthy wheatgrass smoothie, or a sweet or savory crepe, Tbaar at 108 East Main St. in Newark is the place to go. Tbaar may be a chain, but you wouldn’t know it by the scrumptious handmade crepes. I’m the savory type, and I always order the “Yo! Check It Out,” a Chinese style crepe that comes with ham and tofu plus several pungent sauces that make each bite a glorious adventure for your taste buds. And it’s spicy! Order it with the Honey Jasmine Tea, or the Bubble Milk Black Tea, and I guarantee you an experience equal to anything Anthony Bourdain may be eating this week. And you don’t have to go to China to find your bliss.

— Mike Little, Contributing Writer

grub_burger-barGrub Burger Bar – Concord Mall
I didn’t want to like Grub. I don’t like chains, don’t go to malls and thought it was a terrible name for somewhere you plan to eat. There are enough places to get a decent burger, but Grub has become my go-to spot. Turns out it’s a very small (under 20 locations) chain, its burgers are creative and delicious, and though I still don’t like the name I do like the logo. It also turns out I really like milkshakes with alcohol; a bourbon & caramel milkshake takes the edge off being at the mall. And the Scorpion burger with Trinidad Moruga scorpion sauce is intense. Decent food, great concept and surprisingly fast service is a welcome change.

— Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

Cooking with Anchovy Paste
It’s a secret ingredient that will have your tongue saying, “Ooh mommy, umami!” Just don’t tell your uncle about it. He hates trying new things.

— David Hallberg, Special Projects

thug_kitchenThug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
This vegan cookbook was probably the best thing my wife and I bought as newlyweds. As we approach our 30s, we realized that we often made the same meals, week after week, since both of us are not very advanced in the kitchen. We’re not vegans but we were looking for a way to expand our culinary horizon, as well as trying to eat a bit healthier and eat less meat. I came across the blog for this book, and was impressed by how easy it was to follow recipes. It explained a few uncommon ingredients and cooking techniques in a straightforward way. I should also mention that the tagline for the cookbook is “Eat Like You Give A F**k” and it uses lots of expletives, so I would not recommend it for children. But for us, it always makes us laugh when we’re reading a recipe out loud, and it made cooking a much more enjoyable activity.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

MKTSTLOGOfinalBLACKMarket Street Bread and Bagel
This small tidy shop has endured some start-up issues in its first year (It opened January, 2016), but it has settled into a welcome addition to Market Street. I won’t evaluate the coffee since I don’t drink the stuff, but I can heartily attest to the quality of the breakfast and lunch offerings. I especially like the sticky buns with their nice blend of stickiness and flakiness. For lunch, I always struggle to choose between the curried chicken salad and ham and brie, all offered on bread baked on the premises. The menu is compact, but what’s there is dee-lish. At 832 N. Market St. 482-2553.

— Mark Fields, Film Reviewer

J’s Café
Located inside Janssen’s Market in Greenville, this cafe was always a great place for breakfast or lunch, but now you can indulge in a mimosa with your breakfast or a beer with your sandwich, and, of course, pick up a few grocery items before you leave. J’s specializes in wood-fired pizza and a wide range of sandwiches and entrees. My favorite is the Janssen’s turkey, arugula, havarti cheese & sun-dried tomatoes panini paired with an interesting craft beer.

— Julie Miro Wenger, Event Allies

angelos_luncheonetteAngelo’s Luncheonette
It’s small (five tables, 12 counter stools) and the food isn’t fancy, but this old-time diner (1722 N. Scott St.) has been feeding happy Forty Acres people for almost 50 years. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch and the menu is pretty standard, but the quality of the food, the reasonable prices and the friendly staff make this place special. Try one of the house specialties, a Provoroni Dog—a hot dog with pepperoni and melted provolone cheese.

— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

ghirardelli_hot_cocoaGhirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Looking through the aisles at the grocery store, it can seem impossible to find something chocolate that doesn’t contain dairy. After reading the ingredients on almost every brand of hot chocolate, I finally found Ghiradelli Double Chocolate, which had the lone ingredient list that did not include milk. So, for any lactose intolerant friends or vegans, this is for you.

— Deanna Daly, Local Artist & Educator

la_madera_bistroLa Madera Bistro
This cozy, rustic BYOB eatery in historic Kennett Square, Pa., offers an eclectic mix of entrees, gleaning inspiration from Mediterranean and Latin American styles, to name a couple. Most sandwiches are served with some variation of fresh, roasted vegetables, and the very-necessary side of roasted potatoes are sublimely balanced between crisp and smooth.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Fried Pickles
These deep-fried delights offer a delicious detour from standard appetizer fare like wings, nachos and hummus. Equal parts salty and bitter, they also offer a satisfying crunch and are clean and easy to eat, unlike many other starters. Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington was one of the first in the area to feature fried pickles on its menu. More recently, Newark’s Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen brought its version to the table, which comes with a zesty cilantro-lime dipping sauce.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

PICKS OF THE DRINK VARIETY

paradocx_vineyardParadocx Vineyard
Visiting the Landenberg, Pa., winery and vineyard each autumn and winter has become a non-official tradition for me and some friends. The family-run estate features a handful of wines grown on the surrounding 100 acres of land. Guests are welcome at the informal tasting room to sample full glasses or flights and to hang out indefinitely in the warmth, taking in the bucolic winter landscape outside.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

delaware_growerThe Delaware Growler
If you’re a craft beer fan in the area and haven’t checked this place out, I suggest you go, now! Located right across from Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Newark, it has roughly 50 beers on tap at any given time for growler fills, plus much more in bottles and cans. I have found myself checking the website weekly to see what’s on the tap list because there’s usually a beer I’ve been trying to find. Bring your own growler or choose one of theirs, which come in a variety of sizes.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

cascade_brewingCascade Brewing
The resident beer expert at Trolley Tap House, Greg Safian, recently introduced my husband and me to Cascade Brewing. Cascade is a Portland, Ore., based brewery that focuses on fruit-forward, barrel-aged sour beers, and they just recently arrived in Delaware. I’ve tried the Kriek and the Apricot Ale—an American Wild Ale—and really enjoyed both. If you like sours, keep Cascade on your radar.

— Marie Graham Poot, Director of Digital Media & Distribution

Liquid Alchemy Beverages
I recommend that you get your mead from this new spot in South Wilmington. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, we have not gone back in time. This cozy little tasting room off Maryland Avenue holds regular weekend hours and special events. The most recent limited release, Black-302, became available on Jan. 1.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

1984 and Oddity Bar
If ever two Wilmington bars were destined to be neighbors, it was these two. As with many memorable duos—Simon & Garfunkel, Starsky & Hutch, R2-D2 & C-3P0—the two bars build upon their similarities and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. With the variety of bands they book, both venues attract similar crowds: people looking for something other than Top 40 cover bands. While both offer the finest craft beers in the area, Oddity also pours cleverly concocted mixed drinks while 1984 offers an assortment of vintage video games and other arcade favorites. But most important, inside each bar you feel like you are very much in a unique place. Which, in another way, makes them quite the pair.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

PICKS OF THE MUSIC VARIETY

The Nomad Bar
I love The Nomad Bar. For anyone who, like me, works late or goes to evening meetings more often than I get out to the many, many shows and performances I wish I had time to see, The Nomad is a perfect go-to spot when you finally find yourself free. It’s a ready-made scene and completely welcoming place to enjoy local artists playing live jazz and other genres that get your blood pumping (and skilled bartenders help that along). I always run into great people there—coworkers, neighbors, community leaders—and you don’t need to worry about who’s playing. Just show up, it will be great music and a great vibe. I’m not a regular at The Nomad, but whenever I’m there, I feel like one. 905 N. Orange St., Wilmington.

— Elizabeth Lockman, Director of the Parent Advocacy Council for Education (PACE) at the Christina Cultural Arts Center

Kate Bush’s Before The Dawn
In 22 nights at Hammersmith, London, in late summer 2014, 75,000 lucky people saw the first live headline concerts by Kate Bush in more than 36 years. In those years, she went from cult heroine to self-produced radio smash to seemingly retired earth mother in the British countryside—until her latest concept LPs. Before The Dawn, an extravagant Broadway-caliber stage production, was assembled over 18 months before this mixture of live concert and dramatic rock theater had its one-month run. We now have a complete live recording on three CDs or four LPs or by download. Experiencing “The Ninth Wave” side 2 of Hounds of Love (1985), performed by Kate, actors and dancers and her live band remains one of my most emotional concert experiences. Experience it!

Ron Ozer, Producer at Arden Concert Gild

Eyebawl
My current favorite local music project is Erin Silva’s (of Tracy Chapstick) solo project “Eyebawl.” Her quiet-rocking confessionals will hit you right in the feels. Catch her at a local venue or hit up her Bandcamp page.

— Miranda Brewer, Owner of Rainbow Records

The Local Music Scene
I can understand if folks feel this is a cop-out. It’s like saying oxygen is worth trying. But hear me out… I’ve been at Out & About for more than two decades. In that time, I have played in bands, booked clubs, managed bands, promoted shows, and helped produce local concerts. And as you can imagine, I’ve also heard and seen a lot of bands play live. A lot. But never have I been more hopeful for the local music scene than I am right now. More clubs are booking live music than they have in years, and thankfully there are a variety of interesting acts to fill them. It feels like an awakening, and whether you are a musician, club owner, or avid fan, I encourage you to take part in it. It’s an exciting time for local music.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Rusty Blue
If you miss ‘90s rock, check out Rusty Blue. I saw them during Musikarmageddon this past summer, and couldn’t believe that sound was coming from teenagers!

— Sana Bell, Community Events Manager at The Grand

PICKS OF THE PLAY VARIETY

Russell Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge
Did you know that Wilmington has a 212-acre wildlife refuge right in our backyard? Located at the end of the beautiful Christina Riverwalk, this urban oasis is a great destination for a peaceful walk, a glimpse of a bald eagle, or a drop-in program for kids to see what critters they can find in the pond. Whether you’re just interested in strolling through the marsh on the boardwalk loop or coming out for one of Delaware Nature Society’s many programs, this spot is well worth a visit any time of the year.

— Sarah Green, Special Projects

The Woodlands at Phillips
Looking for a way to boost your immune system? Then head to this delightful little mushroom museum and retail store in Kennett Square, Pa. (1020 Kaolin Rd.), and pick up some Maitake mushroom. This edible mushroom, known as the “hen of the woods,” is great on the grill or in stir-fry and has anti-cancer, anti-viral and immunity-enhancing properties. It also may help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. The Woodlands is the retail store of Phillips Mushroom Farms.

— Julie Miro Wenger, Event Allies

Northern Delaware Greenway Trail
This 7.2-mile trail provides a unique and spectacular view of some of New Castle County’s recreational treasures, including Alapocas Run State Park, Bellevue State Park, Rockwood Park and Bringhurst Woods Park. Walk, run or ride it.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Oddball Art Hall
Have you ever found yourself at a craft fair or arts festival and thought the selection was tacky or basic? If yes, check out Oddity Bar’s Oddball Art Hall. This local artist collective is held on the third Friday of every month, the next date being Jan. 20. Support some great local artists, including Dea Daly, Kristen Margiotta and Cori Anne.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

South Chesapeake City
Come visit a quaint little historical town separated by the C & D canal. It’s a charming town with lots of interesting shops and some good food with local lodging available. Take a walking tour and see the restoration of lovely homes and gardens. Less than an hour’s drive from Wilmington, it will transport you back in time. Visit the website: chesapeakecity.com.

— John Murray, Proprietor, State Line Liquors & Contributing Writer

Embrace the Season
Winter can be an easy time to stay inside and hibernate, but I say try to do something outside to embrace the season. Why not lace up your skates and enjoy the Riverfront Rink on the Wilmington Riverfront? The kids love it and it feels great to get outside and do something festive around the holidays. riverfrontrink.com.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

Gifts Made in Delaware

Look no farther than The First State for your holiday shopping

Art

Delaware By Hand
406 Federal St., Dover
Biggsmuseum.org
674-2111
Pieces are created by the artist and artisan members of the Biggs Museum. The retail store is located at the Biggs in Dover.

Terrance Vann
terranceism.bigcartel.com
The Wilmington-based artist is working with the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation on the 7th Street Arts Bridge.

Christmas Decorations

Marcia Poling Bird Ornaments
Wild Birds Unlimited
7411 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin
hockessin.wbu.com
These bird-themed Christmas tree ornaments are hand-painted in lovely detail by Dover artist and naturalist Marcia Poling. Each ornament offers a unique design, perfect for the bird lover on your list.

Dea Daly
deannadaly.com
From Newark, Dea Daly offers one-of-a-kind ornaments this holiday season. She also sells incense burners and charms made from polymer clay. Orders and custom pieces can also be placed on Facebook or Instagram.

Drink

Brandywine Coffee Roasters
1400 N. Dupont St., Wilmington
brandywinecoffeeroasters.com
731-0427
Price: $10 & up
A great option for the local coffee-lover, Brandywine Coffee Roasters offers delicious, hand-roasted blends, sourced from the world’s best coffee. Sample some at the closest Brew HaHa!, or learn more at brandywinecoffeeroasters.com. The products feature very cool artwork as well.

Highland Orchards
1431 Foulk Rd., Wilmington
highlandorchardsfarmmarket.com
478-4042
Stop by this family-run fruit and vegetable farm for some delicious, seasonal apple cider, made fresh from the farm’s harvest.

Food

Fierro Cheese
1025 N Union St., Wilmington
fierrocheese.com
656-8955
Price: $10 & up
This family-owned and operated maker of quality Italian dairy products, including ricotta, ricotta impastata, mozzarella, curd and queso fresco, is located in the heart of Little Italy.

Maiale Deli & Salumeria
3301 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington
maialecuredmeats.com
691-5269
Price: $49 & up (platters)
More than 30 varieties of sausage and 10 types of salami are available here. All sausages and dried salami are handcrafted in house and made fresh daily.

Walker’s Apiary Honey
351 Wedgewood Rd., Newark
731-0427
Price: $10 & up
Located near White Clay Creek Preserve, this apiary also produces honey—along with wax and ointment.

Entertainment

Local Music at Rainbow Records
54 E. Main St., Newark
rainbowrecordsde.com
368-7738
Price: $10 & up
The entire store is a music and book haven, and we particularly recommend perusing the section showcasing area artists. It features an impressive assortment of records, CDs and tapes by local favorites.

The War on Words Book
amazon.com
654-6483
Price: $9.95
Local wordsmith and O&A editor Bob Yearick has compiled a collection of his columns into a book. Each page is a spot-on, somewhat snarky attempt to eliminate the grammatical gaffes that plague our everyday communications.

Home Goods/Furnishings

Etcetera & Stitches
Newark
etsy.com/shop/etceteraandstitches
Price: $3-$30
This online shop by local artist Kristen Vaughn features her individually-designed cross-stitch patterns, hand-crafted kits and finished pieces. Versatile with nerdy and pop culture references, along with modern embroidery hoop art, these pieces are a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone.

JKB Design
1004 Wawaset St., Wilmington
jbuckley.net
559-3547
From custom cabinets to natural-looking wood tables and desks, Jim Buckley creates carefully crafted furniture to suit your unique specifications and reflect your personality.

Kitchen Accessories at Creations Gallery
443 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin
creationsgallery.com
235-2310
Among the varied home items offered at Creations you’ll find the kitchen accessories that Middletown native Michael O’Grady creates from olive wood imported from sustainable sources in Bethlehem, Israel. The growth habit of the olive trees results in spectacular swirly figures—and, hence, unique conversation pieces for your home.

Michael Quattrociocchi
quattrociocchiwoodwork.com
A member of the Delaware State of the Arts Council, Quattrociocchi focuses “on the true beauty of natural wood while providing an object with functional use.”

Well Born Clay
619 Harrington St., Wilmington
wellbornclay.com
443-621-4036
Price: $15-$65
Specializing in functional wares for people who like to cook and eat naturally.

Jewelry/Accessories

Homespun for Everyone
homespunforeveryone.com
Custom made hats, scarves and more for children and adults.  Also offering lessons in knitting and crochet for adults and children. No experience necessary!

Lolah Soul Jewelry
lolahSoul.com
888-771-7087
She creates “wearable art,” including rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

Monserrat Elements
facebook.com/monserratelements
540-5846
Sara Monserrat Teixido has been making one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted jewelry creations and amulets for more than 22 years.

Olga Ganoudis Designs
1313 Scott St., Wilmington
etsy.com/shopOlgaGanoudis
421-9820
Olga Ganoudis’ hand-made jewelry includes some pieces with Game of Thrones themes.

Midwinter Co.
midwinter.co
Vintage and minimal classics in modern form, featuring natural gems and unique diamonds. This husband and wife team run a socially responsible business from their home studio in Wilmington, and 10% or more of their profits go to local charities.

Kids

Getting Sew Crafty
gettingsewcrafty.com
Price: $5-$30
A Newark-based business, Getting Sew Crafty provides stylish and functional teething and nursing jewelry and accessories for mom and tot.

Outdoors

Alley-Oop
904 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach
alley-oop.myshopify.com
227-7087
Price: Wearables & Accessories $21-$50
Created in 2000 by skimboarding aficionado Corey Mahoney, this Dewey Beach-based company produces its own line of skimboarding gear and skateboard decks. It also runs nationally-acclaimed skim-boarding camps at the Delaware beaches—one of the top skimboarding destinations in the world.

O’Neill’s Fly Fishing
Dedicated to all aspects of fly fishing culture, including seminars, lessons, instruction and custom fly tying. Flies range from $3.95 to more than $10, depending on the pattern. Tim O’Neill operates the business out of his home in Hockessin. Contact him at tim@oneillsflyfishing.com.

Out of the Ordinary

Sore Thumb Designs
sorethumbdesignsllc.com
New Castle-based pop artist Lawrence Moore re-utilizes pages from comic book classics to create custom-designed storage trunks, which add fun and a dramatic splash of color to any playroom, studio or even an office. If you’re set on storage, Moore takes the same “pulp fiction” approach to the leather tote bags that are also for sale on his site.

Zexcoil Guitar Pickups
Lawing Musical Products, LLC
lawingmusicalproducts.com
533-7548
For the musician on your list, these locally-made guitar pickups boast great tone without the nagging hum that comes from most conventional pickups. The unique design is the product of Delaware local Dr. Scott Lawing, an engineer with a PhD from MIT who also happens to be a veteran guitarist with the band In The Light.

60 Years of Subs & Steaks

Casapulla & Sons started on Labor Day, 1956. They’ve been laboring over their legendary sandwiches ever since.

Opening and running a successful family business takes more than capital, knowhow and the cooperation of siblings, aunts and uncles. It requires skilled employees, customer service that outshines the competition, and a little serendipity along the way.

The odds are daunting. According to the Small Business Administration, just over half of small businesses survive more than five years, and about a third of them survive for more than 10 years. The numbers dwindle from there.

But for Casapulla & Sons, the legendary sub shop that has served the town of Elsmere for six decades, the numbers don’t tell the whole history. Their story, of an Italian immigrant who started a small grocery store that grew to one of Delaware’s best-known eateries, is one that spans 60 years and a whole lot of sandwiches.

A Delaware Institution

Luigi Casapulla emigrated from Caserta, Italy, in the 1920s, and some 30 years later, after starting a family, he decided to open a small “corner store” just north of Kirkwood Highway in Elsmere. Before long, due to competition from neighboring supermarkets, Casapulla decided to switch gears and offer submarine sandwiches.

Luigi’s son Lou Casapulla has been there for every year of business, and has seen it all. He began working at the shop at age 13, when he would cut rolls and slice deli meat after school, and he still opens the shop most days. He even remembers the first day they opened for business.

“I remember it was Labor Day of 1956, because I’ve always said, ‘We opened on Labor Day and we’ve been laboring ever since,’” says Casapulla, sipping a Miller Lite after finishing his prep work on a warm July Wednesday afternoon. Laughing, he explains that he only indulges in a beer at work after he’s clocked out. And anyway, as he says, “I mean, I can’t get fired.”

From the first day, Casapulla says, the business has been all about consistently offering top quality products at a fair price, while engaging with the community it serves. He’s made countless friends over the years, including a certain Italian lady who, along with her husband, also made their mark on the local deli landscape.

“I remember—and this is gospel—that Lois Margoloet used to come in here probably twice a week,” says Casapulla. “After she opened Capriotti’s in 1976, a reporter asked why she and her husband went into business, and she said she got tired of having to drive to Elsmere for a sandwich at Casapulla’s!”

He says that since the day the store opened, the Italian sub has been the most popular sandwich, and that he’s “probably prepped and made thousands” in his time behind the counter. While business has slowed a bit over the years, many of the same loyal customers still visit more than once a week.

Annlynn Casapulla Scalia, granddaughter of Luigi and niece of Lou, says she’s seen some of the same faces on the other side of the counter since she started working at the shop in 1977. Back then, things were a little different.

“I remember my grandfather told me to just keep my head down and keep making sandwiches during the lunch hour,” says Scalia, finishing a Wednesday lunch rush. “But you couldn’t help share a laugh with some of the regulars, or ask them how they were doing, or how their mom or dad were holding up. It’s a neighborhood spot, so it always felt natural.”

One of those longtime customers is David Baylor, who today has stopped in for one of his favorites, the Casapulla’s cheesesteak. Baylor, a retired Delaware state trooper, has been eating at Casapulla’s for about 50 years, and loves the place and the family that runs it.

Lou prepares tomatoes for the day's sandwiches (Photo by Joe del Tufo)
Lou prepares tomatoes for the day’s sandwiches (Photo by Joe del Tufo)

“When I was in the Navy, I served in Virginia Beach, Pensacola, San Antonio; no matter where I was stationed, when I was on leave, this is the first place I visited when I returned home,” says Baylor. “I think people’s tastes change, but this place doesn’t. It’s been consistently good and had the same great flavors for years— probably a big reason why I keep coming back.”

Before heading out of the shop, Baylor gives Lou a bear hug and thanks him for another delicious sandwich. “This place really is like family to me. It’s my go-to spot; it’s an institution.”

Baylor says he’s become like a Casapulla family member himself. In fact, his daughter, Sydney, works at the Glasgow location.

The Family Franchise

You’ll find six Casapulla’s sandwich shops from North Wilmington to Rehoboth, and every one is family-owned, not a franchise. According to Lou, if there was ever any interest in expanding farther in Delaware or past its borders (a la Capriotti’s), tradition demands that a family member would have to be at the helm.

David Casapulla has been serving sandwiches at Casapulla’s North on Concord Pike since he opened the doors in 1992. He has fond memories of training under his grandfather, Luigi, and the two put in a lot of hours together. The family aspect has always been important to the Casapulla crew, and David continues the tradition at his own store.
“When I went out on my own about 25 years ago, I wanted to keep going a lot of the good from the original store,” says David. “So we took care of every single person that walked through our doors. Over the years, three of my kids have worked here, including my daughter, Rachel, and my son, David II, who work here now.”

Come Labor Day weekend, the staff at the original Casapulla’s plans on partying with their own extended family of relatives, friends and community members. They will have tents outside the location in Elsmere, lots of homemade food on hand, even live entertainment. And of course they’ll also be making plenty of sandwiches.

Worth Trying 2016 – Eat

Picks of the food variety

 

Black chopsticks with flower pattern

Yong’s Oriental Grocery, Elsmere
Tucked in a nondescript strip center in front of BJ’s Warehouse on Kirkwood Highway, this compact but well-provisioned store sells all manner of Chinese, Japanese and Korean groceries for both novice dabblers in Asian cuisine and experienced epicures. The staff is gracious and friendly, especially with overwhelmed newbies. The store features more obscure spices and foodstuffs (sambal oelek, anyone?) unavailable in your local supermarket, and even the more familiar flavors (such as sweet chili sauce, black sesame oil, etc.) can be found in larger quantities at lower prices. In addition to the extensive selection of canned and bottled goods, Yong’s also features a number of homemade prepared foods.

— Mark Fields, Movie Reviewer

 

Black chopsticks with flower pattern

8th & Union Kitchen
While his 8th & Union Kitchen is still in its rookie season, owner Brian Ashby has been making savvy moves more indicative of a seasoned pro. First came a complete overhaul of the interior space, which includes plenty of welcoming woodwork and a more spacious bar. Second has been his ability to keep a high profile in the Wilmington dining scene without reaching the point of saturation. But most important, he’s figured out how to deliver on the promise of both tasty Asian cuisine and hearty American gastropub fare. The Pho and Pad Thai offer wonderfully paired flavors, while the Kennett Square Burger would satisfy just about any taste. Meanwhile, the Brussels sprouts are out of this world.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

worth_trying_dobermanPureBread Doberman Bagel
Smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, cucumbers, capers, and tomato on your choice of bagel, this open-faced PureBread delight at $9.79 is perfect for any meal of the day. The staff is always so friendly, too, at any locations of the local chain.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

 

Vintage Eat Arrow Sign

Marsh Road Diner
Just off Philadelphia Pike, at 407 Marsh Rd., this 24-hour eatery offers what every good diner should: good ol’ American food served quickly and in generous portions. Seems to be one waitress for every four patrons, so there’s no waiting for those ham and eggs, T-bone, or club sandwich. For dessert, try the rice pudding.

— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

bella_coastBella Coast Kitchen & Market
This place has been open for a little over a year on Rt. 202, but my fiancée and I just finally tried it this past fall. We fell in love with our first meal there. The place looks awesome and features a small Italian market. She had a Napolitano hoagie and I had a handcrafted pepperoni pizza. Both were deliciously amazing, but their ricotta cheese cheesecake with caramel and apples took the cake (pun intended). Once you’ve tried this place, you won’t go back to any of those “Italian” chain restaurants.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

LOMALOMA Coffee & Breakfast Wrap
A few weeks ago, fellow O&A-er Marie grabbed us some coffees and breakfast wraps at Market Street’s LOMA Coffee. My wrap, the build-your-own breakfast burrito filled with scrambled eggs, hot sauce, cheese and spinach, was amazing. The coffee is great, too. As I write this I’m considering running out of the office for a mid-morning snack.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Chinese Fortune Cookie

Newark Szechuan explosion
Newark’s Main Street (and just beyond) is undergoing a startling multiplication of hard-core, ultra-authentic Szechuan-style restaurants, all of them filled (as if to confirm their worth) by Chinese international students from campus. On Main Street proper, there’s Red Bowl (153 E. Main) and Colorful Yun Nan (59 E. Main), and just around the corner on South Main (i.e., “Elkton Road”) is the intriguing Kung Pao Palace (259 S. Main)—all worthy of brave forays into the sometimes daunting world of real Chinese food.

— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer

 

sushi on the white background. (isolated)

Sakura Japanese Restaurant of Elsmere
A few weeks back, I stopped by Sakura for a late lunch, mostly consisting of sushi. While the storefront doesn’t scream “Japanese restaurant,” the interior takes you somewhere else. Definitely a traditionalist set-up, music included. The quality of rolls and presentation were above average and the staff was very friendly.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

 

Chole with puri or Chana Masala with Puri Indian Food

Choley Puri
Indian-food neophytes won’t find a more comforting introduction than this taco-esque creation: a silky bowl of simmered-spicy chickpeas, perfectly suited to folding into the accompanying rounds of delightfully oily and puffy “puri” bread—lusciously executed in Newark at the Tavva Café, 215 E. Main St.

— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer

 

Fork filled with corned beef hash

Breakfast at Hank’s Place
There are not many things I’d wait in line for. Breakfast at Hank’s Place is one I would. This folksy Chadds Ford eatery, located at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 100, is nearly as famous as the Wyeth family. And wouldn’t you know it, Hank’s is one of the Wyeths’ favorite breakfast spots. The French toast is great, the omelets are even better and the corned beef hash is a must-try. One piece of advice: If you venture there on the weekends, prepare for a wait.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Worth Trying 2016 – Focus

Welcome to our sixth annual Worth Trying Issue. Though we feature Worth Trying suggestions monthly, each January we devote much of the magazine to personal recommendations from staff, contributors and friends of Out & About. These suggestions on where and what to eat, drink, see and do are scattered throughout these pages, interspersed with our usual assortment of feature stories, news items and other fun stuff.

Enjoy, and have a very happy New Year!

trolley_grooming_loungeTrolley Grooming Lounge
Technically, this isn’t from me, it’s from my hubby. On a tip from our bestie living in “Trolleywood,” Scott visited Trolley Grooming Lounge for a quick haircut. He loved the stylists and the chill atmosphere. It’s become location of choice for all his ‘scaping needs. (And it’s not just for the boys. Gals are welcome too, and they now have their own product line.) Best of all, it comes with the “MKF Seal of Approval.” You can “like” them on Facebook at Trolley Grooming Lounge.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

YMCAThe Central YMCA
This time of year we all make resolutions to get in better shape, so if joining a fitness center is in your plans, pay a visit to the Central YMCA. Though the facility has been serving the Wilmington community since 1929, the fitness center is state-of-the-art, offering 96 high-end workout machines in an invigorating setting accented by a giant glass wall that overlooks 12th Street. But what’s unique about the Central Y is its egalitarian feel. One day you’ll be working out next to a U.S. Senator, the next day you’ll be sweating it out with your mailman.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

the set of items of equipment for travel

REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.), Christiana Fashion Center
When REI opened its voluminous (23,500 square feet) Christiana store earlier this fall, outdoor cognoscenti anticipated a serious dose of “wilderness porn.” The store does not disappoint. Although many sporting goods stores carry basic hiking, camping, and other outdoor gear, REI focuses exclusively on those pursuits with a larger and more varied selection of clothing and goods. The store also offers seasonal classes, trips, and bike repairs. An added benefit: REI provides a low-cost membership that gives discounts and an annual rebate based on one’s purchases.

— Mark Fields, Movie Reviewer

Himalayan_Salt_LampHimalayan Salt Lamp
These are big, hollow salt crystals that are mined from underground salt mines in the Himalayan Mountains with a light bulb inserted in the middle. People claim they can neutralize pollutants in the air caused by electronics, like TVs and computer screens, by emitting negative ions. They also claim other “benefits,” such as reducing respiratory symptoms and improving mood and creativity. I have one next to my computer screen at work, and one at home in the living room. I’m not too sure how beneficial it’s been to my health, but I think it’s definitely improved my mood and creativity, especially on rainy days. And it looks pretty cool. I got mine at Home Depot.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

good_paintGood Paint
I wanted to repaint some of the rooms in my house recently, and in an attempt to save a few bucks I bought paint from Home Depot. What a mistake! It wasn’t too long before I stopped using that stuff and headed down to Shinn’s on Lovering Avenue—where I should have started in the first place. Higher quality paint requires far fewer coats and applies so much better. And when you need advice on the best products for your job, the folks there never steer me wrong.

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media

balance_fitnessBalance That Body
At 36, it takes more effort to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. A friend and co-worker introduced me to Scott at Balance Strength and Fitness Center and I’ve never felt better. It’s conveniently located at 4th and Greenhill, so I can work a visit into almost any busy day. BalanceFitnessTraining.com.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director

john_saward-viceJohn Saward, Vice Magazine
I used to write, but I stopped when I started taking photos. Others do it much better. Take Vice Magazine’s John Saward (Google him, but be prepared to lose your afternoon). He’s young, unflaggingly honest and writes these gloriously poetic tantrums. He wrote that American Bro (“The Worst Person In The World”) article that went viral last year. I love everything I’ve read of his, and it’s been a long time since a new voice stopped me. I predict Bob Yearick will hate him because his grammar takes liberties, but they do have their similarities.

Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

winterthurWinterthur Museum Store
This under-the-radar treasure boasts some of the most unique home-decor accessories (and wow-worthy gifts) in the state, but few know it exists—or that Winterthur conveniently allows shoppers to park near the shop instead of taking a shuttle all the way from the visitors’ center.

— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer

glossGloss Hair & Makeup
I have been going to Tateum at Gloss for several years and love her and the salon. They always make you feel and look great. They offer a wide variety of options from wedding services to eyelash extensions. For more information, check out salondelaware.com.

— Kelly Loeb, Account Manager, Catalyst Visuals, LLC

bogsBogs
My 2-year-old daughter wanted pink boots for Christmas. I wanted to get her something warm and functional. My research led me to Bogs. The company started in Oregon with a focus on footwear for the farm industry. In addition to being super durable, comfortable, and easy to maneuver in, they are machine washable! After hearing all that, I was sold. So I was even more excited to find out that the company dedicates a portion of its sales to outdoor education and urban farming. I can’t wait to get a pair of my own. (Available online and locally at Trail Creek Outfitters in Glen Mills, Pa.)

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media

smyrnaSmyrna
If you haven’t paid a visit to the up-and-coming little town of Smyrna recently, pick a Friday night and swing by Blue Earl Brewery for some seriously good suds, food truck magic and live music. Things get started at 5 p.m., when the designated food truck or cart (usually Mr. BBQ or The Wise Pig) starts cranking out its wares, followed by local acoustic musicians like Nik Everett and Bruce Anthony, playing from 6-9 p.m. All the while, you’ll be able to drink craft brews like Walking Blues IPA and the Top of the World Imperial Stout. The 45-minute drive from Wilmington is totally worth it.

— Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer

 

Bald eagle.

The Conowingo Dam
A trip to the banks of the Susquehanna River around the Conowingo Dam is an excellent outdoor adventure. Birds, birds and more birds await you. Bald eagles, 11 species of gulls, blue and black-crowned night herons, terns, vultures and osprey all vie for airspace. On good days you can see more than 100 bald eagles soaring in the wind currents. There are parking and viewing spots on the Harford County side of the dam. Dress warm and enjoy the scenery.

— John Murray, Contributing Writer

River Towns Ride
Cyclists are discovering that the 10-mile stretch of road between historic New Castle and historic Delaware City is a great circuit. Both ends of the route offer fantastic views of the Delaware River, it’s mostly flat, the majority of the road is recently paved, and a wide shoulder complete with sharrows (bike path designations) allows riders to feel safe. You can do the official River Towns Ride the first Saturday in October…or you can check out the ride on your own. rivertownsride.com.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

resturant_DepotThe Restaurant Depot
Opened last February, this big-lots food wholesaler targets restaurant owners, but membership is open to owners of any business. Just provide your EIN (employer identification number) for your free membership card, and start shopping instantly. Imagine paying wholesale for items like whole beef tenderloins and pork rib racks, an extensive selection of fresh produce, frozen hors d’oeuvres, dairy, dry goods, even paper and chemical products for the kitchen, home or small business. Located at 200 Cornell Rd., Wilmington, it’s part of a chain of stores open in 34 states and first in Delaware.

— Chef Robert Lhulier

francescasFrancesca’s for Accessories
This Greenville shop is my favorite go-to when I need jaunty, fun baubles (earrings, necklaces, etc.) for dress-up or if I need a new swag bag, tote, or wallet. The staff is friendly, fun and helpful, and I always seem to walk out with something cool…mostly just what I was looking for, but also things I never knew I wanted!

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Pure_Yoga_LOGOPure Yoga
After the crazy holiday time, do yourself a favor and head to Pure Yoga in Trolley Square for a yoga, Pilates, yoga/Pilates fusion or barre class. This intimate studio allows you to practice in a class where the teachers are able to be attentive to your needs. I love this place and its teachers. For more information about class times and schedules visit pureyogapilatesstudio.com.

— Kelly Loeb, Account Manager, Catalyst Visuals, LLC

 

Look for more Worth Trying suggestions throughout this issue!

 

 

Getting Out Indoors

Say farewell to cabin fever with this collection of classes, exhibitions, performing arts, and more

Ushering in post-holiday doldrums and cooped-up blues, winter is arguably one of the dreariest times of year. But fear not: we’ve compiled a list of fun indoor options to get you off the couch and out of the house. From concerts to children’s activities to beer-or-wine-and-yoga sessions (yes, you read that right), we’ve got every taste covered.

Floral Fun at Longwood Gardens
At Longwood Gardens, winter is far from bleary, thanks in part to the annual Orchid Extravaganza, on view this season free with Gardens admission from Jan. 23-March 27. The Conservatory transforms into a tropical oasis featuring Longwood’s largest and most diverse display of orchids ever.

For a personal challenge, try the Botanical Illustration Studio. Use your artistic skills to illustrate plants and flowers from Longwood’s greenhouses and grounds. The studio time gives you a chance to receive individual attention, constructive suggestions, and encouragement. Work at your own pace on your project, large or small, surrounded by fellow artists. This is a six-session course, on Mondays from 12:30-3 p.m., Jan 4-Feb. 8.

DSC_1584-2
Johnny Gallagher

Johnny Gallagher at The Queen
Wilmington native Johnny Gallagher—musician, award-winning actor and Broadway performer—will come to World Cafe Live at The Queen on Friday, Jan. 22, to showcase his singer-songwriter skills.

His debut album, Six Day Hurricane, is set to be released Jan. 15 via Rockwood Music Hall Recordings. The first single of the album, “Two Fists Full,” is available through Soundcloud.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25.

For those up for a jaunt to New York City, Gallagher can be seen on Broadway in the Roundabout Theater Company production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night starting in March.

The Musical Box: Recreation of Genesis’ Foxtrot
In 1972, the English rock band Genesis toured to promote their fourth album, Foxtrot. The first concert on the tour began a trend of combining music and theatre.

The Musical Box—a Sunday, Jan. 17, performance at the Grand’s Copeland Hall—undertakes the reproduction of the original concert to give people an illusion of being at the actual Genesis show. Visual reconstruction of the show is based on photos and slides of the original concerts, magazine articles and first-hand experiences. Tickets are $32-$39.

FSBT102 Cinderella large
Photo courtesy of First State Ballet Theatre

Cinderella at the baby grand
First State Ballet Theatre—Delaware’s professional ballet company—presents Cinderella, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21, at the baby grand in Wilmington. The classic fairy tale with the ultimate happy ending is told with wit and elegance. Tickets begin at $14 for students ages 18 and under. Senior, group and military discounts are available. The performance starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Wine, Cheese & Honey Pairings at Penns Woods Winery
Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa. is teaming up with local cheese and honey artisans to bring exclusive wine, cheese, and honey pairing events on select dates (Jan. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31). Indulge in a sit-down pairing of five premium Penns Woods wines matched with various cheeses and honey from local farms. Admission is $28; reservations are required. Live music is on Jan. 9, 16, 23, and 30 from 2-5 p.m.
Contact Penns Woods at 610-459-0808 to make a reservation.

Great Balls of Fire!
From Feb. 6-May 30, the Great Balls of Fire! exhibit at Delaware Museum of Natural History explores the pop culture fascination of a catastrophic impact from an asteroid or comet. If there was a dinosaur-killer in earth’s past, is there a human-killer in our future? The exhibit asks: What are the chances and how do we assess the risks? For that matter, what are asteroids, comets, and meteorites, and where do they come from?

ChicagoThe Musical at The Playhouse
ChicagoThe Musical has it all: a universal tale of fame, fortune and “all that jazz,” one show-stopping song after another, and fantastic dancing. The award-winning show is coming to The Playhouse Feb. 23-28. Based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, it’s based on actual criminals and crimes she covered. A satire on corruption in the administering of criminal justice, the performance explores the concept of the “celebrity criminal.”

Photo courtesy of Delaware Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Delaware Art Museum

Poetry in Beauty: the Art of Marie Spartali Stillman
Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927), one of a small number of professional female artists working in the second half of the 19th century, was an important presence in the Victorian art world of her time and closely affiliated with members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Poetry in Beauty, the first retrospective exhibit of Spartali Stillman’s work, runs through Jan. 31 at Delaware Art Museum. In addition to approximately 50 of her pieces, works from public and private collections in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, many of which have not been exhibited since Spartali Stillman died, will also be on view. After the exhibition, her art will be transported overseas and on view at the Watts Gallery in Guildford, England, through June 5.

Winter Classes & Fun at CCArts
Center for the Creative Arts in Yorklyn offers a bounty of fun and productive wintertime activities. First up, “Ballet for Adults” runs Tuesdays (10-11 a.m.) from Jan. 12-March 15. Study under Ballet Master Val Goncharov in these adult classes. Tuesdays (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) from Jan. 12-March 1, try your hand at oil painting. Learn basic techniques through demonstrations, discussions and application. Tuition is $184 for members and $204 for non-members. For a one-day class on Saturday, Jan. 9, “Glass Fusion” (9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.) will explore the art of melting glass into designs to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Create a sun-catcher, pendant, tray or dish using glass that will be provided. Tuition is $40.

Additionally, try out “Yorklyn Live,” a CCArts Open Mic Night every third Thursday. It’s free, with a cash bar and food. Lastly, a Dinner Theater called “Blind Love” on Saturday, Feb. 6, is about how a blind man sees what a fool does not. People can come for dinner, drinks and dessert. The show is at 7:30 p.m. and tickets, which can be purchased online, are $35.

Call 239-2434 for more information about these activities.

Hagley Fun
Robots: they’ve explored the far reaches of space, the depths of oceans, and the inner workings of the human body. Now children ages 4-14 can explore robots themselves at Hagley’s Invention Convention, from Jan. 16-18.

The weekend includes robotic demonstrations, hands-on engineering challenges, and in-person conversations with professionals who use robots in their daily work. Visitors will discover how the Wilmington Police Department uses bomb robots to dispose of explosive devices, and guests also will take part in tinkering tables, create-an-invention fun, and a hands-on science fair. Invention Convention will be in Hagley’s Soda House and Library. Admission is $8 and $6 for children. Hagley members and children ages 4 and younger get in free.

Additionally, Hagley features the exhibit “Driving Desire: Automobile Advertising and the American Dream” through autumn. It explores the relationship between automobile advertising and Americans’ car buying decisions. Driving Desire is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Yoga in the Paradocx Tank Room
Uncork, relax and unwind at Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg, Pa., on two Sundays—Jan. 10 and Jan. 24—for Yoga in the Tank Room at 11 a.m. Your focus will be drawn away from the everyday hustle and bustle with this unique yoga class in the winery tank room. Each class is designed to relax the mind—and open the senses to encourage a mindful wine-tasting experience. Tickets are $25, and the event includes a 60-minute yoga session with wine tastings of four wines to follow. (Bring your own yoga mat.)

Photo courtesy of Winterthur Museum
Photo courtesy of Winterthur Museum

Winterthur Book Club & Exhibition
Embrace learning and quality time at Winterthur’s Pages of Time: Mother & Daughter Book & Craft Club. On the first Thursday of each month through May, from 6-8 p.m., this is ideal for book worms and crafty girls in 4th-6th grade. Discussions will revolve around historical fiction books, and there will be tasty snacks and crafts related to the book each month. Tickets are $25 per member adult/child pair; $35 per nonmember pair for the complete seven-month series. Winter dates and books include: Jan. 7, Betsy Zane: The Rose of Fort Henry; Feb. 4, Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark; March 3, The Smuggler’s Treasure. Call 800-448-3883 to register and for more dates.

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, an exhibition running March 26-Jan. 8, 2017, examines the profound influence of Asia on the arts of colonial Americans. This scholarly exhibition is the first Pan-American study to explore how craftsmen across North, Central, and South America adapted Asian styles in a range of media—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting.

Delaware Theatre Company Acting Classes
Attention, aspiring actors: ready to take a step in the right direction? Have fun while exploring characters and scenes in a six-week course at Delaware Theatre Company, Sundays from Feb. 7-March 13 (5:15-7:15 p.m.). Take on the actor’s role of examining scripts, finding characters’ objectives, and exploring various acting techniques to bring out your richest performance. Though no experience is required, students should be ready to participate, to jump in and work together—and have fun. The course is $180, and open to adults ages 18 and up. Classes are also available for children and teens.

Photo courtesy of The Delaware Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of The Delaware Children’s Museum

Touch Tank: Lunch and Learn
Join the Delaware Children’s Museum staff daily from 12:30-1:30 p.m. for feeding time at the Touch Tank Aquarium. Learn about the food marine creatures eat, the habitat they live in, and special facts about the vertebrates and invertebrates who share the tank. Or stop by Try Science: Be a Physiologist, Jan. 9-10, from 11 a.m. to noon, to learn about the body’s parts that work to keep it running. Children can become junior doctors or nurses as they take a hands-on and entertaining look at the organs and systems inside a very unusual patient—the DCM’s 7-ft. doll, Stuffee.

Beer & Yoga at Victory Brewpub
Victory Brewing Company’s Kennett Square brewpub is hosting Beer & Yoga on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 9 a.m. After the yoga session, enjoy food and beer pairings. Instructor Diane Rogers will guide participants through the yoga process. Tickets are $30.

Five More Bold New Year Predictions for Delaware’s Food Scene

Among them: tipping’s tipping point, home cooking, scrapple as the new bacon

The locavores have won.

Look at the top five trends in the 2016 Culinary Forecast from the National Restaurant Association (a.k.a. The Friendly NRA), and you’ll see a pattern: locally sourced meats and seafood; locally grown produce; hyper-local sourcing; natural ingredients/minimally processed food.

So yes, expect to eat, drink and breathe local next year. Also expect more smoked meats in your life, more food trucks, more healthy kids’ meals and artisanal pickles. They all made the national list and they’re among the hottest stories in Delaware this year.

But what are the unexpected trends that we’ll see in the food business this year? It’s our job to find out.

Once again, we hit the streets, the phones and the bars to talk with chefs, restaurateurs, industry professionals, city planners, servers, suppliers, home cooks and bartenders (confession: mostly bartenders) about what they expect to see in 2016—and then we made five Bold Predictions for the coming months. (Check the status of last year’s Bold Predictions below. We fared marginally better than a Magic 8-Ball might have done, wildly exceeding our expectations.)

Trend: the end of tipping

Yes, tipping has hit its tipping point. Sure, restaurants on the wacky West Coast have been experimenting with service-included pricing for the past couple of years, but people really sat up and noticed when famed restaurateur Danny Meyer announced last year that all 11 restaurants in the Union City Hospitality Group in New York City would eliminate tipping.

The Delaware Restaurant Association plans to make gratuities a major topic during its annual meeting in February.

“We’ve had calls, and we know that local business owners are curious about whether a tip-free or mandatory service charge model is something that could work in their restaurants,” says Karen Stauffer, DRA director of marketing. “So far, no restaurants in Delaware have switched to no tipping, but we do know of several in Philadelphia that have made the change.”

Xavier Teixido, owner of Harry’s Hospitality Group, says changes in tipping policy are driven by a number of factors: spreading compensation fairly among restaurant staff; creating a more professional, stable work environment, and dealing with changes that higher minimum wage laws will create in some parts of the country. What remains to be seen is how customers react. Will they experience acute sticker shock when they see much higher menu prices, even if tipping isn’t expected?

“It’s a really complex issue,” Teixido says. “And it would really change the composition of our industry.”

Bold Prediction #1: At least one fine dining restaurant in Delaware will eliminate tipping in 2016—most likely one at the beach.

Trend: home cooking for sale

In San Francisco, where digital start-up tycoons are eager to develop the Uber for everything, new apps connect home cooks with people too busy to cook at home, presumably because they’re at work developing apps, and they’re hungry.

Peer-to-peer food sales are already happening in Delaware, though we’re using a somewhat lower-tech solution: Facebook. Last Thanksgiving, I knew people online offering homemade gravy, soups and pies for sale to friends right before the holiday. Some were trained chefs, but others were home cooks renowned for their skill in the kitchen.

But would their dishes sell on an app if it were available?

“I wouldn’t mind considering it,” says Amy Watson Bish, pie maker extraordinaire. Actual comment on her Facebook page: “Can I still order a pie for next Saturday? You can say no. I’ll cry softly.”

She hadn’t heard of apps like FoodieShares before, but she’s clearly considered the concept enough to know that Delaware has no “cottage food laws” that allow home-based food producers to sell to the public. How does FoodieShares get around that?

In an interview with KCET, Channel 28 in Los Angeles, FoodieShares CEO George Mathew addressed that head on: “It’s a question that comes up sometimes. It’s confusing because we are new.” Translated, that’s start-up-tycoon-speak for “If we start making enough money, we’ll figure it out.”

Bold Prediction #2: Increased interest in home cooks entering the sharing economy leads Delaware legislators to loosen cottage food regulations, or they get no pie.

Trend: scrapple is the new bacon

Long considered the country cousin among more refined breakfast meats, scrapple is having its moment in the sun. You’ll see it in starring roles in brunch menus all around town—scrapple hashes, scrapple Benedicts, scrapple mac-n-cheese. You’ll drink it in scrapple beers and make a Bloody Mary out of scrapple-infused vodka. And the Apple-Scrapple English Muffin made it all the way to the finals of the Thomas’ Hometown Breakfast Battle before losing to something covered in sausage gravy from Illinois. That scrapple success comes thanks to Ryan Cunningham, chef at Abbott’s on Broad Creek in Laurel, creator of the aforementioned muffin and global ambassador of scrapple.

Why does Cunningham love it? “That soft mushy center and the crisp outside, the pork flavor, the sage. We use scrapple a lot in the restaurant,” he says.

And more chefs are doing it themselves. Bill Hoffman at The House of William and Merry in Hockessin and Hari Cameron at a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth Beach both make scrapple in house. Cunningham occasionally makes duck scrapple at Abbott’s, and others are not just experimenting, they’re upgrading.

“People are cutting higher-end pieces of the pig in there, so it doesn’t have that offal kind of taste,” Cunningham says.

Perhaps that’s what it will take to bring scrapple mainstream—if it’s not there already.
Bold prediction #3: The biggest scrapplephobic in your life will dare to try some in 2016.

Trend: more wineries, more breweries…and more distilleries

Craft spirits and locally-produced spirits continue to top the NRA’s list of alcohol-based dining trends, but Delaware has only entered the distilling game in the past few years.

When the Painted Stave wanted to open the state’s first stand-alone distillery in Smyrna in 2012, its founders had to get state laws changed in order to do so. But now that that work is done and the Painted Stave has infused some local flavor into the cocktail menus, the question remains: when does Northern Delaware get its own gin?

The beach has already gotten in on the action. Beach Time Distilling in Lewes and the Delaware Distilling Company in Rehoboth Beach have both gone through the doors that Painted Stave opened, and there are constant whispers—rumors, wishful thinkings—of another opening up further north.

Bold Prediction #4: Either a distillery opens in the Wilmington-Newark corridor, or some enterprising restaurant tries it on its own.

Trend: Market Street—dining destination

“We could build more glass, shiny towers, but that is not what is going to change this city. It is the coffee shops and the bike lanes; it is those kinds of things that get people here on nights and weekends.” – Chris Buccini, quoted in The News Journal, Oct. 28, 2015.

Exciting eats are coming to Market Street. By the time this sees print, Bryan and Andrea Sikoras’ Merchant Bar should be open across the street from La Fia. The guys… behind Chelsea and Ernest & Scott Tavern are planning a new barbecue spot/microbrewery called 3 Doors Brewing. What was once a dining/nightlife destination might become one again, as new residents move onto Market Street with dollars to spend.

Bold Prediction #5: Restaurants open and restaurants close all the time. Look for a net gain of five places on or near Market Street in 2016…

Scorecard for Last Year’s Predictions:

1. You will eat fish offal some­time in the next year.
OK, you probably didn’t. But local, sustainable fish continue to be popular.
2. A local chain will become a tenant in the new Fashion Center complex at the Christiana Mall.
Didn’t happen, though the Fashion Center isn’t done yet.
3. “Vintage Atlantic” will become a category on at least one prominent local wine list.
Galer Estates wines are now on the wine list at Sovana Bistro in East Marlborough. And the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region just published its first official map. Slower than expected, but all steps in the right direction.
4. A food truck park will open this year—with at least five new trucks that don’t yet exist.
Wilmington City Council voted in November to allow food trucks to operate on city streets.
5. La Fia taco.
Nailed it.

Stone Balloon Chef ‘Rides the Bus to Flavortown’

Robbie Jester can only reveal that he did really well on Guy’s Grocery Games, which airs on Food Network Nov. 15

Robbie Jester has been steadfastly keeping a secret since last February. To find out what it is, tune in to the Food Network show Guy’s Grocery Games at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Jester, executive chef at Stone Balloon Ale House, was one of four contestants on the show that was filmed nine months ago in Santa Rosa, Calif., in a 24,000-square-foot warehouse that serves as the show’s “supermarket.”

On each episode, host chef/restaurateur Guy Fieri—who calls the show Triple G—sends the four contestants running through the aisles of the market to find items to cook dishes. Known for such catch phrases as “I’m driving the bus to Flavortown,” Fieri challenges them with such tasks as finding substitutions for “out-of-stock” ingredients, cooking with five items or fewer, or making a dish on a $10 budget. A panel of three judges evaluates the competitors’ dishes.

Chef Robbie Jester, as seen on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, Season 6.
Chef Robbie Jester, as seen on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, Season 6.

Jester, 30, can only say that he “did really well” on the show and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He adds that filming the episode was emotional because he spoke about his dad, Bob, who has stage four lung cancer and is in hospice care.
Jester grew up in a restaurant family, and his personal history as much as his cooking ability helped land him on the show. His father was in the first graduating class of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Robbie began working with his father at age 12 and graduated from the CIA in 2006.

Bob Jester once owned the Kitty Knight House in Georgetown, Md., a sports bar in Newark and the Harbor House Restaurant in Chestertown, Md.

Robbie left Piccolina Toscana in 2013 to become general manager of the former 16 Mile Taphouse on Main Street, which became the Stone Balloon Ale House last year. Jester says it’s been a great experience working with new owners and general manager Philip DiFebo.

The Stone Balloon will host a dinner on the Thursday after the Guy’s Grocery Games episode airs—Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $55 per person (gratuity not included) and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 266-8111. Beers from Oskar Blues Brewery will be paired with each course.

Jester says the theme of the dinner will be “things to be thankful for” and will include some dishes from the show plus several of his family’s dishes, including his grandmother’s German chocolate cake, his father’s crab imperial, and the sweet and sour meatballs he and his aunt made when he was a youngster. “It’s a fun menu that’s dear to my heart,” he says.

In the meantime, Jester says, two more TV projects have been offered to him. Again, he must remain tight-lipped, but he can reveal that they are “food-related.”

O&A has a pair of tickets to give to a reader for that Nov. 19 dinner. Feeling lucky? Go to OutAndAboutNow.com to put your name in for the random drawing.

The Q Factor

Led by a newcomer in Little Italy, BBQ is the latest culinary craze in New Castle County

From Facebook posts to newspaper articles to food blogs, the big buzz around Wilmington is all about barbecue. Credit the August debut of Locale BBQ Post in the old Sugarfoot Fine Foods & Gourmet Catering location on the edge of Little Italy. News of the soft opening, which went viral among local Facebook users, led to lines out the door and sold-out signs by early or mid-afternoon.

Locale BBQ isn’t the only eatery heating up the dining scene. Down in Elsmere, Philippine Smoked BBQ & Grill opened in June. The Road Hog food truck this summer pulled up at the rest stop on 95 near Newark. And if all goes as planned, 3 Doors Brewing, which will feature barbecue, will open in late winter or early spring next year.

What’s the appeal of BBQ? “It’s a great food,” says Chef Dan Sheridan, who owns Locale BBQ with Mike Gallucio and Justin Mason. “You can feed a lot of people and a lot of your friends, and it’s not fussy. I’ve always been a fan. I don’t know too many people who don’t like barbecue.”

Dan Sheridan owner of Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington, checks on brisket that is being smoked, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Tim Hawk)
Dan Sheridan owner of Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington, checks on brisket that is being smoked, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Tim Hawk)

A Tasty Tradition

Real barbecue takes time. It’s not about burgers on the grill. It’s about cooking meat slowly over indirect heat, which is why Locale BBQ can’t just pop more meat in the smoker when supplies run out.

The approach has been around for hundreds of years. It’s thought that after landing in the Caribbean in the 15th century, the Spanish coined the word barbaoa to refer to the natives’ slow-cooking method. The technique spread to the American South, where pigs were so plentiful that they became a barbecue mainstay. In Texas, not surprisingly, it’s all about the brisket.

Because barbecue allows hosts to easily serve a large crowd with inexpensive cuts of meat, it became the dish of choice for large picnics and gatherings. Anyone who’s read or watched Gone with the Wind recalls Scarlett O’Hara charming her beaux at the Twelve Oaks barbecue, where she first met Rhett Butler.

Behind the Q Curve

Despite its longevity and popularity, barbecue as a culinary trend has been slow to catch fire in Wilmington. Sure, there are some solid mainstays, most notably Rick Betz of Fat Rick’s BBQ, who’s maintained that “nobody beats my meat” since 1989 in a bricks-and-mortar restaurant early on and, more recently, as a caterer.

New Castle County contenders that fly under the radar include Big D’s BBQ, David Deal’s counter in The Well Coffeehouse and Marketplace in Hockessin, and Russell’s Quality Food on Centreville Road, which has built a cult-like following for its barbecue, cooked onsite and served out of an unassuming shed-like building near Steve’s Liquors.

Farther south, Where Pigs Fly in Dover has been dishing up hickory-smoked pulled pig since 1993, and Bethany Blues’ two beach locations—in Lewes and Bethany—are smoking strong.

When Eppy’s Barb-B-Que on Philadelphia Pike opened in 2012, North Wilmington diners hoped that the BBQ restaurant might become more of a trend than a “hidden gem.” Unfortunately, Eppy’s quickly closed. (That Holly Oak location has witnessed a string of failed eateries.)

In Philadelphia, however, barbecue is plentiful and popular. Consider Percy Street Barbecue, opened in 2009 by celebrity Chef Michael Solomonov, Phoebe’s BBQ, which opened in 1994, Smokin’ Betty’s, Fette Sau, and Pig Daddy’s BBQ—to name just a few.

Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Tim Hawk)
Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Tim Hawk)

As the Spit Turns

Locale BBQ’s popularity could indicate that barbecue in Wilmington is developing the same hip factor that it has in Philly. Recently, the mostly takeout shop offered garlic-peach sauce made with black garlic from Obis One in Pennsville, N.J., a destination for cutting-edge chefs seeking local, artisanal products.

Sheridan’s prior business, Wilmington Pickling Company, provides the pickles. In fact, it was Sheridan’s search for a kitchen where he could take the side business full time that helped spark the idea for a BBQ joint. “I needed to do something else besides just pickles, and I wanted to keep cooking,” says Sheridan, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Australia who’s worked at Bistro on the Brandywine, Cantwell’s Tavern, and La Fia. “Barbecue just kind of goes hand-in-hand with pickles.”

Locale BBQ also benefits from the talents of fellow Chef Christopher Baittinger, who’s worked at Ulysses American Gastropub, Chelsea Tavern, University & Whist Club, and, most recently, Ernest & Scott. Baittinger, who’s unabashedly passionate about all things pork, makes bacon to sell at Locale BBQ. (Culinary trend spotters could say that barbecue’s shining star is partially linked to the public’s continued appetite for pork, which was a common ingredient at the recent Farmer & the Chef benefit.)

Locale BBQ sticks to sweet tea for its signature libation. Barbecue, however, also goes well with craft brews and bourbon. The latter is a combination the new 3 Doors Brewery, located three doors away (thus the name) from sister restaurant Chelsea Tavern on Market Street, will promote. “I love barbecue; I love beer,” says Joe Van Horn, operating partner of both restaurants, as well as nearby Ernest & Scott Taproom. “This is the restaurant I’ve always wanted to do. This is going to be a little more of my baby.”

Although the full-service 3 Doors Brewery, which will brew Belgian-style ales in its seven-barrel system, will have a 500-pound smoker onsite, the restaurant won’t limit itself to barbecue. Other items will include burgers, soups and salads.

Ribs at Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Tim Hawk)
Ribs at Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Tim Hawk)

Deciding Differences

Even barbecue-centric restaurants, however, often go beyond the expected pork, chicken and brisket. Locale BBQ, for instance, has bratwurst. Russell’s offers jerk chicken, hot dogs, yams and fried fish. Fat Rick’s is also home to Miz Walt’s chicken, which was the star at the restaurant Rick and wife Tina opened in 1990 in what is now Eclipse Bistro.

Philippine Smoked BBQ & Grill takes the BBQ menu to a unique level in town. Here you’ll find the expected favorites: beef brisket, whole or half chicken, chicken leg quarters, pulled pork, and ribs. The shop offers smoked turkey legs and kielbasa as well. Then there are the dishes inspired by owners Romeo and Lalaine Balan’s Filipino heritage: chicken or pork kabobs, mini eggrolls, puto with cheese (sweet rice cake with cheese) and biko (sweet sticky rice).

Sides, made in house, include a Carolina-style vinegary slaw but also a macaroni salad with smoked chicken breast, raisins, and pineapples. Roast lechon (a Spanish term for roasted suckling pig) is available Saturday or Sunday. It’s particularly popular on the Filipino island resort of Cebu, where Lalaine grew up. The restaurant also does special orders for a whole pig or turkey. “We do everything,” she says. “Just think of it and we will do it for you.”

There are other differences among the area’s barbecue restaurants. Some serve the meat already sauced. Others dry rub the meat, then customers pick from the available sauces, which usually include sweet and spicy selections.

Betz sticks to the tried-and-true. “We are a classic American barbecue,” he says. He uses a dry rub and adds a touch of vinegar to the Carolina-style pork. Traditional sauces are on the side. “We do the classic barbecue that was served 100 years ago and will be the same barbecue that will be served 100 years from now.”

But in Delaware, even classic fare can go in and out of fashion. “Brisket sneaked up on us a few years ago,” Betz says. “I don’t know where that came from; we do a ton of brisket now.”

Betz, who had restaurants in the North Wilmington suburbs and in downtown Wilmington, closed his bricks-and-mortar operation 15 years ago to cater. He now has a location in an office plaza off Foulk Road mostly for its commercial kitchen, but he’s open during lunch for those who want to pop in. “You know how some restaurants do a little bit of catering? We’re a catering company that does a little bit of ‘restauranting.’”

Newcomers don’t threaten him. “Barbecue has been a tiny, tiny niche in the food segment” in Wilmington, he says. “That’s where I survived all by myself all those years.”

He might get a lot more company in the future. Along with the opening of 3 Doors Brewery, Sheridan and his partners would like to open additional locations with the same to-go-friendly model. “We’d like to do two or three down the line,” he says. “I’d like to get down to Main Street, Newark—anything with a lot of people driving by or walking by who need a quick bite to eat.”

All that will have to wait. At week three, Sheridan, who gets in no later than 6 a.m. to feed the smoker, was still busy meeting the current demand. The good news is that despite the hard work and long hours, he hasn’t lost his appetite for his menu. “I still eat it every day,” he says. “I ate a rack of ribs last night. And if we’re still eating it, we hope it’s also good for everybody else.”

Judging by the lines outside his door, “everybody else” agrees.