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What's the deal with Mrs. Robino's in Wilmington?

On a whim, my family and I went there for dinner on Saturday night. It was our second visit in about 30 years. The place was MOBBED -- the line of people waiting for tables was practically out the door. Okay, okay, it was a pretty inexpensive meal. But the food was mediocre at best. Homemade spaghetti (overcooked) was a nice find, but nothing we ordered was particularly good. So what is it that brings the crowds here?

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  1. See my recent post on Conley Ward's. Dreadful food, and the place was packed. And that place doesn't even have a history, like Mrs. Robino's. Welcome to Wilmington (sigh).

    Years ago, I went on a couple of dates with a guy who absolutely loved this place. That should have been a flashing red signal to me from the get-go...

    1 Reply
    1. re: travelmad478

      I have only eaten at Mrs. Robino's once. I may not have tried their best offerings, but based on what I had, I have not been back.

      Do you have any favorites in the Little Italy section of town?

    2. No, I haven't been to anything except this place, the Del Rose, and Pastabilities, none of which impressed me. I will stick with Toscana, which is not Little Italy, but offers much more interesting and well-prepared food. Someone else on the board recommends Attilio, which could be worth a shot. I have to say that red-sauce Italian isn't really what I look for when I go out for a meal, though.

      1. I haven't enjoyed Toscana since Dan Butler "Yuppified" it several years ago. It used to be one of my favorite Italian spots. Now I feel I have to travel to Philly to get good Italian food.

        1. It's a shame but it's true...Wilmington is a great place for good food and a bad place for great food (if that makes sense). It's why foodies head up to Philly for "real food" and endure the trip up I-95. Personally, I have not had a great meal in a while in Wilmington, although Domaine Hudson was fairly good.

          4 Replies
          1. re: bluehensfan

            I seem to recall a tiny, little place, maybe down on Marsh Rd. near I-95, known for their gnochi. I don't remember the name. I think it was in a former Dairy Queen location. Do you know the place I'm referring to? Is it still there? And, more importantly, is it any good?

            1. re: CindyJ

              It was the place on the corner at Philadephia Pike and the owner/chef, Anthony Stella, who made the gnocchi retired and left and apparently then came back as a consultant. It was called L'osteria Cucina Italiana I think and is now Cafe Italia apparently.

              1. re: bluehensfan

                Right! That's it! Is it worth a trek from PA?

                1. re: CindyJ

                  I dunno, never been there for years and not being a big gnocci fan never was that fond of it at the place before the whole switchover happened.

                  I'd venture that Italian in Philly is a safer bet.

          2. I think one of the reasons its so crowded is because lots of families who grew up in the neighborhood and then left, come for comfort food and to meet up with old friends.

            I didn't like Mrs. Robinos, but I do like Pastabilities. It's small, with a decor that can only be termed eclectic. I love the broccoli rabe appetizer and enjoy the chicken parm with ricotta or the gnocchi (sp?).

            1. While it wonderful to have great Italian food, it is nice to have a local Italian place that can provide good and inexpensive Italian food which you can go to on a regular basis. Any recommendations for such a place in or near Wilmington?

              1. Cafe Italia on Marsh Road no longer exists. It is now the Marsh Road Diner. We had lunch there today...it was OK...typical diner fare.

                We used to go to Mama Guliana's on Philadelphia Pike, just above Silverside Rd. It has recently changed owners, but kept the same menu. Red Sauce Italian...OK food. I can't remember the new name.

                1. It's just one of those places. I'm from Central Pennsylvania and have been going there for years. My grandparents found it in the 40s. It's comfort food--and I don't find the homemade spaghetti particularly overcooked. If you're looking for "fine cuisine," well, you're not going to find it at Mrs. Robino's. But I do, personally, find their food quite good--and lots of others do too, apparently.