Located in downtown Wilmington for more than 15 years, this laid-back pub was named one of the Best Bars in America by Esquire in 2007. Devote the first 100 bites of your administration to an appetizer of irish nachos ($8), which are actually french fries wearing a cunning disguise of chopped bacon, scallions, jalapeños, and shredded cheese. The entrees match the campaign paraphernalia and images of deceased commanders in chief that festoon the restaurant's walls. Teddy Roosevelt groupies can dirty their robust moustaches with the Bull Moose ($12)—a San Juan Hill of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, dried cranberries, and gravy piled high atop toasted sourdough bread. Otherwise, finish meals in disgrace with the criminally tasty chicken Nixon sandwich ($9)—a blackened chicken breast grilled with bourbon barbecue sauce and topped with bacon and melted cheddar. The presidential debates continue through Sunday brunch (11 a.m.–2 p.m.) with the LBJ french toast ($7.50) versus the Garfield omelette ($7.75).
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Owners Eric and Sasha Aber stock their kitchen at Home Grown Café with locally sourced and sustainably produced ingredients when they can. That palate of fresh greens, house-made sauces, and Black Angus beef pairs with eclectic recipes, which have nabbed a slew of awards from Delaware Today, including Best Healthy Fare four of the last five years. Many plates, such as the pad thai with shrimp or shredded chicken tamale turnover, can be converted into filling vegan meals with faux shrimp or seitan. A full gluten-free menu provides options for patrons who have wheat allergies or recently had a tearful falling out with a gingerbread man. The chefs craft sandwiches with proteins including hangar steak or tofu and toppings such as bacon, creole mustard, brie, and chilled duxelle, a rich, buttery sauce of mushrooms.
Beside supporting local farms, the Abers throw their support toward the arts, displaying a rotating cast of local craftspeople on the walls and hosting live music performances four nights a week, including Jazz sets on Sunday.
Marco Rizzo regularly strolls local markets, handpicking ingredients for Ristorante Marco's kitchen. He learned to cherish fresh food as a child, when growing up in a small Italian fishing village meant his family had to grow and harvest much of what they ate on a small farm plot. He also learned from his mother, a chef herself, how good food can bring people together—Marco's house regularly erupted into activity at dinnertime, with conversations and Xbox tournaments carrying well into the night.
Now, at Ristorante Marco, the Italian native draws upon these memories as he crafts the dishes he grew up with, from housemade pastas to seafood. Valuing entertaining as much as he does cooking, Marco relishes chatting with guests and recommending a drink from the restaurant's list of more than 100 wines, including a selection from his hometown, Santa Maria di Castellabate. Such touches earned Ristorante Marco the 2010 Critics' Choice award for Best Upstate Italian Restaurant in Delaware Today.
Within the cozy, plush confines of a 19th-century brownstone mansion, Alfred's Victorian crafts specialty Northern Italian dishes alongside hand-cut pastas. Appetizers rouse tongue-napping taste buds with dishes such as mussels Livorno, baked in a savory tomato garlic sauce ($8), and the three-cheese-topped french onion soup ($6). Pasta patrons can give a toothy salute to the Al Ragu bolognese, which smothers hand-cut tagliatelle in a thick tuscan meat sauce and an even thicker accent ($15), while anti-carnivorous cravings can be sated by bites of portobello Ariana, a savory amalgamation of fresh spinach, melted provolone, and toasted almonds ($17). Pescatarians can launch a table-mounted trident into Alfred's many seafood delights, including cioppino with clams, scallops, shrimp, and mussels ($27).
The culinary traditions and ingredients of Northern Italy inform many of the dishes at Floga Bistro. Chefs there scatter fennel sausage and prosciutto across regular and gluten-free pizza crusts bound for the rippling warmth of a hearth. They ladle spoonfuls of sun-dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, and marsala wine cream sauce over tangles of thick, sunshine-hued pappardelle made in-house. With a sharp sizzle, panini presses shut on halved ciabatta rolls hiding rib-eye, caramelized onions, and fontina cheese like the backpack of a totally unprepared secret agent. In the cozy dining room, festive booths and stone accents surround diners, and paintings of cityscapes, flowers, and abstract prints dapple the sage and pumpkin walls.