In Vallé Cucina’s kitchen, chefs form fresh jumbo lump crabmeat into thick patties, pan-sear them to a golden-brown hue, and drizzle their crispy crusts with beurre blanc. The eatery’s crab cakes have been hailed by Delaware Today as the city’s best for several years running. Vallé Cucina’s classic Italian entrees are held to the same high standard: chefs hand-roll gnocchi and drizzle them with slow-simmered tomato sauce, and accent dry-aged steaks with elegant flourishes such as peppercorn brandy cream sauce and blue cheese. Servers recommend selections from Vallé Cucina’s vast wine list to enhance steaks or Trevi Fountain reproductions.
Matt Crist, the new executive chef of Union City Grille, crafts lunches and signature dinners of handmade pastas, rich short-rib chili, and steaks seasoned with a house rub. An updated list of hand-selected wines and over 70 craft beers augment dishes that include hand-turned ricotta gnocchi and gourmet burgers. Guests can enjoy fare in the comfortable dining area, or in the eatery's cozy banquet room, accented with a modern fireplace. Sunday "choose your cut" fillet specials allow guests to feast on steaks discounted by the ounce, or pretend they are directing a film starring steaks.
From a kitchen inside the Clarion Hotel, executive chef Jeff Kirby concocts a diverse spread of southwestern-influenced dishes from sandwiches and Tex-Mex favorites to tender, perfectly cooked steaks. Kirby and company keep the Maryland crab soup and other crowd-pleasing dishes on the menu, but conceive new menu additions and daily specials to keep diners on their toes and to prevent cooking utensils from dulling due to complacency.
Husband–and-wife team Andy and Allison Yoa have built their own tropical paradise at Island Grill, but that doesn't mean they get to spend all day sipping mai tais. In the kitchen, you'll find Andy busy frying hand-breaded flounder, sautéing housemade crab cakes, and preparing cedar-plank salmon in a spicy orange sauce. The island theme continues in Allison's territory: the front of the house. Wooden carved fish adorn the walls and dangle from the ceiling, and the tables are covered in a tropical pineapple print.
For those who want to take a piece of the island paradise home with them, the restaurant offers full-service catering that can include servers, bartenders, and dudes who do pretty good Jacques Cousteau impressions.
Drawing on his culinary background working in East Coast bistros and stately hotel kitchens, Mile High Steak & Seafood’s Executive Chef David Robinson crafts a rotating menu of upscale steakhouse cuisine. Robinson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, refuses to cut corners with his ingredients, going so far as to fly in fresh seafood and grass skirts overnight from the Honolulu Fish Company. He only chooses aged certified Angus beef for his steak-centric entrees, and he revs up traditional sandwiches and appetizers on the bar menu with high-end items such as shaved prime rib, artisan cheeses, and lobster. These gourmet bites pair palatably one of the bar’s signature cocktails or glasses of wine.
Even in his down time, Robinson keeps his culinary skills sharp, coordinating charity events for the Chester County SPCA and the Brandywine Hospital Strawberry Festival. But even with his busy schedule and impressive resumé, he’s still thankful for landing his “dream job” at Mile High Steak & Seafood.
El Sitio's chefs parade a vibrant menu of dishes from Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina across visiting palates. The lomo manchego, a grass-fed sirloin medallion stuffed and drizzled with manchego cheese ($26), is served on a stone plate designed to maintain warmth long enough for forks to tap out blissful sonnets in Morse code. Patrons can lick their plates clean after romping through staple dishes such as the sliced octopus covered in black-olive sauce ($9.25) or a sampler of empanadas, tequeños, and calamari ($11.50). Dine indoors beneath lime-green and marigold walls bathed in varietal lighting, or let the wind blow through your eyelashes while noshing on shrimp in an ivory mantle of coconut sauce ($17) on the patio. El Sitio's BYOB policy allows diners to bring along a bottle of wine, six-pack of beer, or bedazzled personal juicer.