Sips and Bites
After a delightful after-theatre drink and munch last night at A(muse) (44 Baltimore Ave., 302-227-7107) it struck me that there are lots of little treats around town that deserve to be noted, quite apart from a major article on the entire establishment.
At A(muse), they offer happy hour and late night (after 10) menus, perfect if you want a nightcap or late snack. The menu, featuring drink specials and $5 or $10 goodies, is as eclectic as the restaurant’s main menu and just as much fun.
Sitting at the large, friendly bar, I sampled the eggplant soup ($5) with crème fraiche, as delicious as it was unique. I longed for the pickled veggies with mustard, toast and a dollop of crème fraiche as well, but alas it would wait for another night.
The Garden Peas ($10) arrived for one of my pals and it looked, well, amusing, with horseradish, sorrel, and whey. The verdict was: outstanding!
My take on A(muse) on the whole is forthcoming, but for now, it’s a terrific stop mid-Baltimore Ave., lovely for staff from restaurants that close earlier to gather, and a spot to sample an excellent by-the-glass wine list or cocktail. Next up for me will be the Buddha’s Hand, with house-infused citrus vodka, pomegranate and orange bitters.
No fooling anyone about my being a New Yorker. And while I cannot get home to mid-town as often as I would like, there’s one experience here that sends me right back in an aromatic, culinary flight of fancy.
It’s the first bite of the gigantic New York Slice from Casa DiLeo (721 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-8660) Tried it? You must ask for the New York Slice by name, as it is a whole different piece of the pie from their regular (and very good) pizza. It is easily the size of two regular, perhaps three regular pizza slices and delivered to you on a round metal pizza pan.
My first bite of the plain cheese New York slice, with its thin crust and just enough cheese, tomato and oil to be magnificent, lifts me to 7th Avenue and 52nd Street and any number of Ray’s Original, Ray Barry’s, or New York pizza joints. The flavor is exactly the same as I remember, sitting gazing at Radio City Music Hall, Yellow Cabs and pedestrians rushing hither and yon.
Munching away, I can visualize Sabretts hot dog carts, colorful falafel trucks, flashing Walk/Don’t’Walk signs, Broadway billboards, steaming manhole covers and buses advertising network TV shows. For me, while I adore many other Reho and Lewes pizzas (Louie’s and Half Full are favs) if I’m in for just a slice, it’s the New York at Casa DiLeo. For this New Yorker, the sensory experience cannot be found anywhere else in Sussex County.
What can one say about green beans? Plenty when it’s the sautéed kind at Confucius (57 Wilmington Ave., 302-227-3848). While the whole menu at Confucius, from dumplings to Peking Duck deserves a five-star review, it’s the green beans that delight me most. Slightly crunchy, loaded with flavor, not overly sauced and not overly spiced. Perfect, actually. I can never skip ordering them.
In fact, I have been known to make a meal of the spicy sautéed green beans and the appetizer Scallion Pancakes with Smoked Salmon. Don’t miss this combo! (But don’t miss the Peking Duck, either.)
Have you dined at Aqua (57 Baltimore Ave., 302-226-9001) lately? The food is terrific and frankly, how can you beat sitting outside under the stars along Baltimore Ave.? Try the Caprese sandwich—it’s light and fresh and the balsamic is spectacular. I really enjoy Aqua for summertime happy hours, bursting with people and energy. But a quiet Monday night dinner, with Cathy Gorman singing, is a special treat.
For my last mini-recommendation in this edition I have to go with two appetizers by Executive Chef Dave Sauers at Mixx (26 Baltimore Ave., 302-226-8700). He’s famed for the lobster spring rolls with house-made charred pineapple aoli—so wonderful. Then there’s the perfectly flash-fried calamari, with three sauces for dipping. You can be in a sweet and sour mood, want pungent roasted garlic and chili, or a house marinara. Again, I’ve been known to make an hour at the bar nibbling calamari and spring rolls, along with one of Ginger’s martinis with fresh fruit, into an entire meal. I can eat my vegetables later.
So go have a sip and a bite. There are wonderful things happening all over the area!