Entering the vestibule of the new Taverna restaurant in north Wilmington, guests will feel as though they are stepping into a large, dimly lit wine barrel. The rounded entryway sets the stage for a completely new look for Carl and Lisa Georigi’s newest restaurant in their growing empire of restaurants – their second Taverna in the state.
“We thought it would give people a great feeling to step into a wine barrel before they formally enter the restaurant,” said Carl Georigi.
As if opening one new restaurant wasn’t enough work, the Georigis just opened their second new restaurant in as many months, expanding the Platinum Dining Group dining franchise to six and doubling the customers they can serve in north Wilmington, where they are operating for the first time. “It’s all the stress of opening one restaurant times two,” said Carl.
Taverna Rustic Italian on Silverside Road opened the first week of June next door to El Camino at The Concord, which started serving diners at the end of March. The two restaurants are the anchor retail tenants in the mixed-use development that will eventually include 350 apartments and other retail establishments.
The new Taverna will have the exact same menu – from food and beverages to pricing – as the successful restaurant by the same in Newark, which opened seven years ago. Like the Main Street location, the new Taverna will also feature wine on tap. “We have a lot of North Wilmington residents who have children who attend UD who have eaten in the Newark store. It was really important to us that they have the same experience – the consistency was a priority,” said Georigi.
Presented the opportunity to open two new restaurants at The Concord this season by developers Buccini/Pollin Group, Georigi quickly concluded that Silverside Road dining scene was well suited for another Taverna.
“Our Taverna concept in Newark has been wildly successful, and I think it works just about anywhere. It’s a warm comfortable setting, the food is comforting and exceptionally prepared. It’s just a restaurant people have taken a liking to. So, when we looked at the overall concept of the Concord, in creating a life center, it just made perfect sense.”
Georigi calls Taverna a ‘neighborhood meeting place’ with a seemingly humble menu that suggests a rural approach to refined Italian cooking.
“Where Capers & Lemons (their restaurant in Greenville) is a more modern take on Italian favorites, the word ‘rustic’ lends itself to a more authentic, traditional approach to all the plates and dishes. Our lasagna is traditional ricotta and meat lasagna – straight forward. Here at Taverna, we have chicken parmesan over pasta. Great ingredients, simply prepared.”
On the night we visited the new Taverna our group ordered the Mediterranean Salad with a special request for grilled salmon, Baked Salmon, Spinach Ricotta Agnolotti, and Ahi Tuna. “The tuna was cooked perfectly. The blend of the herb crusted tuna, spinach, potato, capers and chili oil was refreshing and delicious,” remarked one guest. Regarding the agnolotti dish, one diner friend remarked, “The pasta itself was quite nice – silky with a just-cheesy-enough filling. And the portion size and presentation were very good.”
Our friend who ordered the Mediterranean Salad remarked that the shallot dressing was “fresh and light – the lettuce was crisp and the salmon perfectly cooked. A terrific meal.”
A variety of reclaimed and recycled materials give an earthy, inviting feeling to the restaurant to give it a look that it’s been there for a long time. Recycled barn wood, reclaimed brick walls, long barn timbers over the kitchen and the cap walls, and cylindrical light fixtures for the banquets that are made with cement all enhance the rustic Italian charm the Georigis looked for when creating the aesthetic for their newest eatery.
“We built it to look older. With time it will continue to grow into its space, and it will look even better with age,” said Georigi.