Owners Scott Stein and Chef Antimo DeMeo of the Italian eatery on N. Market Street found out just yesterday that they were nominated as a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. The awards are essentially the “Oscars” of the food industry.
“I was driving into work, and a chef from Rehoboth called me to congratulate us. The restaurant’s been quite a hit, so I thought he was just talking about our success,” said Stein. “But then when he told me we were nominated for a James Beard award, I literally almost crashed into the car in front of me!”
The phone rang off the hook yesterday and patrons were excited to be a part of the breaking news. Said Stein, “We are beyond ecstatic. It was an emotional day yesterday. There really was — and still is — electricity in the air!”
Saying they are longshots to win, Stein says the entire team will continue to put their best foot forward. “No question we’re underdogs. But we’re going for it! We want to try to win this! We will keep putting our best foot forward every day. This year’s Best New Restaurant list includes 29 other nominees in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Heirloom in Lewes also received a James Beard nomination. Matthew Kern was nominated for Best Chef: Midatlantic.
Stein says he has no idea how Bardea received the James Beard nomination. “Someone came in here, ate and nominated us. But I don’t know who that was,” he said. Bardea, which offers a fresh take on many classic Italian dishes, has been well received by patrons ever since its opening last September.
Stein says that the community support has inspired the staff — ‘from the front of the house to the back of the house’– to remain passionate about their commitment to excellence. “Local diners are rooting for us every day. That’s a good feeling when people come to us and thank us for bringing a New York caliber restaurant to Wilmington.” Diners are often approached by Stein to ask about their meals, and he appreciates an honest reply.
The five finalists will be announced on March 27th, and the black tie James Beard award show is in April.
Stein is already reflective about the entire experience. “You know, there are thousands of restaurants of our caliber that open every year. So we owe an incredible degree of gratitude to our families and all the special people behind the scenes that made this dream come true.”