The lens of WHYY’s new foodie show Check, Please! makes its way to Delaware this week.
The program that gathers real diners to hear their unvarnished take on local eateries will have the upscale Mexican restaurant Del Pez on their plate this Thursday night at 7:30 pm.
Each week, three regular people – not professional restaurant critics – recommend their favorite spot to eat out in Philadelphia and Wilmington. Diners try each other’s picks then come together to dish about their experiences on the set of the show in Philadelphia.
The citizen-critics are asked visit – and observe — the restaurant they nominated plus two others, ensuring there’s at least always one person who champions a restaurant. The secret Delaware diner who launched Del Pez to local fame also visits two Philadelphia restaurants: Sate Kampar and Georgian Bread. All three will be in the mix on the seventh episode of the new series.
Like all of the restaurants tapped to be on the program, Del Pez didn’t find out that ‘secret diners’ had visited their restaurant until show producers contacted them about coming to film footage for the February segment.
“We were quite surprised. We had no idea those diners had been here. They did a wonderful job blending in,” said General Manager Eric Wood.
The diner who nominated Del Pez has still not revealed his or herself. “We won’t know who they are until we see the footage. We’re waiting anxiously to see,” said Wood.
Located on Wilmington’s Riverfront on Justison Street, Woods describes Del Pez as a fun twist on a gastropub sliced with Latin-inspired dishes, where everything is made from scratch. “We are very adventurous; we take a lot of risks. So, we have a lot of artistic liberty,” he said.
The website only provides a glimpse of the dishes the tasters ordered at the two Philadelphia restaurants. But teasers for Check, Please! say host Kae Lani and her guests will chat about ‘nachos, Malaysian dishes and khachapuri.’
Wood says he hopes one of the diners ordered the Chimichurri Salmon. “That’s a fresh Atlantic Salmon made with a nice acidic Chimichurri sauce that blends perfectly with the meatiness of that fish. Served with spicy mashed potatoes and broccolini – favorite thing on the menu,” he said.
Summer foot traffic at nearby Constitution Yards beer garden, winter visitors to the Riverfront ice skating rink and a growing interest in residential living are a few of the reasons Wood says the restaurant has grown in popularity since just over two years ago. He added that “Mexican food and the whole Latin cuisine is considered the fastest-growing segment of the market right now.”
The Hakuna Hospitality Group, led by Javier Acuna, runs six restaurants, including Savanna and La Taqueria in Wilmington as well as Sante Fe Mexican Grill, Pachamama Peruvian Rotisserie and Mi Ranchito in Newark. The group is also opening its second Sante Fe at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, a new apartment and retail building in Wilmington, in the spring or early summer.
Del Pez Mexican Gastropub is the first of three local restaurants that will be featured on Check, Please! this season. The air dates for the remaining two are:
Thur., Feb. 27 The House of William & Merry in Hockessin
Thu., Apr. 9 Mrs. Robino’s in Wilmington’s Little Italy