The nervousness and excitement of opening seven restaurants on the same day was tangible at the highly anticipated opening of DECO, as a news camera crew filmed a food segment, guests piled in and managers in suits flitted about addressing countless details.
Described as a mall food court with upscale restaurants, the 250-seat DECO showcases a large bar, a cool aesthetic and a wide variety of food options.
It’s clear that Wilmington’s newest food destination, located on the first floor of the DuPont Building, is meant to appeal equally to both families and urbanites. On the first day DECO was officially open for business, mixologists whipped up tasty cocktails, and parents with young ones got their juice fix at the Philly-based Stripp’d, which specializes in fresh-pressed juices and açaí bowls.
In the hustle and bustle of opening night for the new food hall, seated beside a large open window on the nicest night of the year, we sampled a few of the new offerings.
The DECO Bar mixes up handmade cocktails and syrups, draft and bottle beer, wine, and bubbles.
The most interesting and trendy cocktail on the menu, “The CBD,” includes Uncle Val’s botanical gin, Cointreau, basil, simple syrup and a lemon tea CBD seltzer. CBD infused foods, praised for their healing powers, have recently increased in popularity and will be found on several popular restaurant’s menus, possibly including Starbucks.
The CBD seltzers are also offered a la carte from the bar. Other notable cocktails, “The Watermelon Cooler” and “10th & Mango” include fresh fruit purees and luxury liquors.
Connie’s Chicken and Waffles is a brunch lover’s dream that crafts fresh waffles and fried chicken strips. The buttermilk waffles are not too sweet, crisp, fluffy and smell like a bakery. They also offer a red velvet waffle and waffle add-ins such as Oreos, Crunchberry cereal, chocolate chips and whipped cream.
Lest you think that the waffles are the centerpiece of their meals, owners Khari Parker and Shawn Parker (brothers) are equally jazzed up about chicken, offering plenty of choices depending on your appetite. In addition to tenders, they offer a variety of whole wings in flavors like Jerk, Buffalo, Teriyaki and Old Bay.
Their masterpiece is topped with extra thick maple syrup. Remember to pick up a few extra napkins.
Pizzeria Bardea offers 7 variations of personal pies and inventive salads with toppings like burrata and tuna poke. Standing at the DECO counter feels like sitting in the mother restaurant. They pulled in the modern black iron accents, subway tile and the same rustic ceiling tile that can be found above the restaurant’s bar. The spin off for the James Beard Nominated chef created new pizza flavor opportunities for the restaurateurs; their delectable signature Pizzas such as “The Bird” are just $10.
“The Bird” is topped with a cheese blend, gouda, tender roasted chicken, pickled ramps and a strawberry barbeque drizzle. The tender and crisp crust perfectly wrapped the sweet and savory toppings. It’s definitely pizza that makes you want to dance.
Al Chu’s Sushi is not your typical sushi eatery – in addition to the extra fresh sushi, diners can order shrimp and vegetable gyoza, poke bowls, seaweed salad and crabby edamame, steamed with Old Bay.
“The firecracker” is a salmon and avocado roll topped with fresh jalapeno, sriracha and hot and spicy sauce – a combination of what we guess is soy sauce, wasabi, green onions and hot sauce. It was the star of the show.
The California Roll with crab stick and scallions on top was surprisingly different and really good. California rolls can often be a bit bland and boring. But this one stood out.
Stripp’d, with their home location in Philly, seemed to take a minimalist approach to the aesthetic of their booth, where we thought we might see baskets filled with apples, oranges and bananas. But there were rows and rows of their colorful and popular fresh pressed juice drinks – all made with local and organic fruits and vegetables. And pretty patterns frame the walls of their booth.
As we stopped by to check it out, we were offered a free sample of a smoothie with strawberries and granola on top. It tasted like fresh bananas, berries and cream. Perfect level of freshness and natural sweetness. Local Philly foodies say the acai bowls at Stipp’d are the best in town.
DECO can be accessed from the first floor of the Hotel DuPont or at the entrance on 10th and Orange Street.