One of the largest gatherings of its kind in the country, St. Anthony’s Italian Festival celebrates its eponymous country's rich cultural heritage through a Renaissance-inspired jamboree of food, wine, music, and cultural events. In La Piazetta, vocalists Vincenzo Fiore and Nicola Nigro stimulate auditory organs, and Tarantella dancers showcase traditional routines. Restaurants specializing in heterogeneous regional varieties of Italian cuisine dot the fairgrounds’ landscape in edible tents strung together with deli meat. Diners at the Antonian Surfside can purchase steamed soft-shell crabs and clams, and Café Nona Starda visitors select land-roaming comestibles such as grilled sausage with fresh peppers as well as broccoli rabe. Customers sip crushed grapes courtesy of La Piazza and DaVinci’s.
From the strains of live blues resonating through its walls to the spicy kick of its habañero Voodoo shrimp, Blue Parrot Bar & Grille recreates the freewheeling, vivacious vibe of a New Orleans nightclub. Guests sip colorful mojitos and hurricanes as they dig into Creole and Cajun specialties, including étouffée, red beans and rice, gumbo, and jambalaya. Live bands primarily capture the gazes of diners, although the restaurant’s decor is interesting on its own. Murals, carnival masks, and posters evoke lively Bourbon Street scenes and Mardi Gras celebrations; outside, a brick patio surrounds guests with fountains, canna plants, and a large mural of a French Quarter–style inn.
The bakers at Papa's Pastry whip up decadent desserts fit for special occasions or every day. Their Italian pignoli cookies stand out as best sellers amongst chocolate chips, biscotti, and cinnamon-walnut rugelach. Cakes come in towering tiers of ganache and buttercream or ranch-style ramblers of rich cheesecake. The culinary artists also assemble gluten-free breads, biscuits, and entrees for those with an aversion to wheat and hawk their wares at various farmers' markets from May to October.
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 1940, crowds of people would line up outside Tresilla Robino's front door, all awaiting coveted seats in the tiny dining room she had set up in her basement. Today, Mrs. Robino's great grandson replicates her beguiling Italian recipes and maintains a family business that has thrived for more than 70 years. Cooks place hearty meatballs atop tangles of housemade spaghetti and tuck seasoned meat and creamy ricotta cheese into hand-formed pockets of ravioli. The kitchen staff also breads veal cutlets by hand before topping them off with provolone and red sauce, and dusts sweet cannolis with powdered sugar for clear fingerprinting.