Grotto’s birch beer; Bardea back on Mondays; Restaurant Week

Pam GeorgeCulture, Headlines


Sales of Grotto’s beef-and-blue pizza will benefit the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.

If you can taste the difference between birch and root beer, you’ll be happy to know that Grotto Pizza is once again serving the soda.

What’s the difference? Birch beer is made for birch, while the original root beer contained sassafras vines and roots. 

The product is not the only popular item back in local chain restaurants. The healthy, fast-casual chain Honeygrow brought back a favorite stir-fry this month.

Meanwhile, a new restaurant is coming, one changed hands, and a popular brewery is closing.


Grotto listened to customers unhappy about no longer having birch beer and has found another supplier.

Birch beer back at Grotto

Beginning Oct. 1, birch beer returns to Grotto Pizza locations. 

Small Wonder Big Bite Pam GeorgeThe Rehoboth Beach, Delaware-based restaurant group stopped serving the distinctive soda in the summer after the beverage distributor discontinued it. 

Customers weren’t happy.

“There’s a sense of nostalgia with getting birch beer and Grotto Pizza, especially in our restaurants at the Delaware beaches,” said Jeff Gosnear, president of Grotto Pizza, in a release.

Grotto Pizza selected the birch beer from Maine Root, which uses 100% organic sugar cane from Brazil.

Speaking of Grotto Pizza, it’s National Pizza Month in October, and the chain is giving partial proceeds from the sale of select pizzas to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition

Employees submitted ideas for the specials, which include the Beef & Blue Pizza—steak, caramelized onions and a combination of Grotto’s pizza cheese and blue cheese, topped with chopped arugula. 

The Blue Earl

Saturday will be the last day that the Smyrna taphouse the Blue Earl will be open.

Blue Earl Closing

Ronnie Price, the owner of Blue Earl Brewing, announced on Facebook that the Smyrna taproom was closing its doors after service on Saturday, Sept. 30.

“This is the last week of service at Blue Earl,” he wrote. “Stop in and say goodbye. We love you Delaware, Blue Earl family, friends and fans everywhere. Thank you for 9 years of memories.”

The closing may reflect the rise of the cocktail culture and the canned cocktail trend.

Mordor Intelligence predicts that the U.S. spirits market will grow from $75.17 billion in 2023 to $96.03 billion by 2028.

Tequila and bourbon are leaders in the category.


Bardea Food & Drink will reopen on Mondays, returning to their prepandemic schedule.

Open Mondays: Bardea Food & Drink 

In 2020, Bardea Food & Drink cut back its hours due to pandemic restrictions and staffing issues.

Beginning Monday, Oct. 2, the downtown Wilmington restaurant will reintroduce Monday hours. The award-winning eatery is still closed on Sundays.

Word on the street is that several more Bardea family businesses are in the works, including a pasta and wine bar across Market Street and perhaps an oyster bar. Stay tuned.

Brandywine Restaurant

The Brandywine Restaurant opening on Pennsylvania Avenue will feature custom-made wallpaper.

More on Brandywine Restaurant

Last week, we mentioned that Bill Irvin of Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar fame plans to open a new restaurant at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue. This new building has businesses and residences.

Irvin tapped the talents of Robert Lhulier, his partner at Snuff Mill, to design the 1,700-square-foot floor plan. There will be 40 seats and outdoor seating.

Real estate guru Stephen Mottola designed the dining room, which is little bit of French bistro and a teensy bit Mid-Century hotel bar.

Lhulier is working with Chef de Cuisine Andrew Cini to create a menu that includes classics with a twist.

Picture oysters Rockefeller with Vietnamese fish sauce, roast chicken, salmon en croute, steak Diane and flounder crab imperial. 

When fully operational, The Brandywine Restaurant will have lunch, dinner and a late-night menus. 

There is no connection to the Brandywine Room in the Hotel du Pont.

Dogfish Head's newNashí Ragā is a rice lager with ginger, cinnamon and Asian pears from Westover, Maryland.

Dogfish’s Punkin Ale Fest 

Punkin Ale is one of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s most celebrated seasonal beers, and on Saturday, Oct. 14, Dogfish Head’s Milton Tasting Room & Kitchen will host the Punkin Ale Fest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The free outdoor event will feature food trucks, vendors, art, live music and live band karaoke. 

Although Punkin Ale is the guest of honor, Dogfish Head will release a limited-edition fall beer brewed with Salisbury-based Burnish Beer Co. and a special spirit release created with Fifer Orchards

Nashí Ragā is a rice lager with ginger, cinnamon and Asian pears from Westover, Maryland.

Delatucky Julep, a ready-to-pour bottled cocktail, blends whiskey, mint and agave syrup with Fifer’s peaches and peach juice. 

Can’t make it to the festival? Nashí Ragā and Delatucky Julep will be available starting Friday, Oct. 13, at Dogfish Head’s Milton and Rehoboth locations. 

Nashí Ragā will be available on draft and in a four-pack of 16-ounce cans. Delatucky Julep will be in bottles.

A portion of the proceeds from the Punkin Ale Fest will benefit the Brandywine Valley SPCA as part of Dogfish Head’s Beer & Benevolence program. 


Bonefish in October is offering a $46 dine and discovery dinner.

Date night delight

Bonefish Grill in the Concord Mall is running a Dine & Discover promotion through Oct. 29.

The three-course dinner for two includes two salads, two entrees and a shared dessert for $45.90.


Honeygrow has brought back a favorite, the Miso Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry

Miso Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry returns

A favorite stir-fry has returned to the menu at Philadelphia-based honeygrow, a fast-casual chain specializing in made-to-order stir-fries, salads, and “honeybars.” 

Originally introduced in 2021, Miso Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry contains egg white noodles, roasted chicken, miso corn, caramelized onions, shaved parmesan, chives, and miso-garlic sauce. 

The price is $12.68, and the dish can be modified. 

There are honeygrow locations in Brandywine Hundred, Christiana and Newark.


Brandywine Restaurant Week 

Twenty restaurants will participate in the 8th annual Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week will take place Monday, Oct. 2 through Friday, Oct. 6. 

The collaboration enables guests to sample the creative cuisine with set price points of a prix-fixe lunch for $20; prix-fixe dinner for $35 or $55.

This year’s featured restaurants are Back Burner, Bardea Steak, Bar Reverie, Brandywine Prime, Café Mezzanotte, Ciro Forty Acres, Ciro Riverfront, Columbus Inn, Dorcea, El Camino, Krazy Kat’s, La Fia Bistro, Merchant Bar, Piccolina Toscana, Taverna (Wilm.), The Market Kitchen, The Quoin, Tonic Seafood & Steak, Walter’s Steakhouse and Wilma’s.

Sponsors include Chase, Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mix 99.5FM, In Wilmington, Out & About Magazine, Heineken Silver and Standard Distributing.  



Po' Boys

Mike and Melissa Clampitt, left, have sold Po’ Boys to chef Chase Nelson.

Po’ Boys changes hands

In case you missed our recent article, Melissa and Mike Clampitt have sold Po’ Boys Creole Restaurant to local chef Chase Nelson.

Nelson plans to reopen next week, so you can count on your chicken gumbo.

However, Nelson may offer special prix fixe dinners in the future on nights when the restaurant is usually closed.

The Clampitts purchased the restaurant from Amy and Lynn Stewart in late 2013. It first opened in 2009. 




Share this Post