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Feb 19, 2007 08:49 AM

Grad dinner in Wilmington or Newark?

Can anyone suggest a nice, moderate-to-expensive place in either Newark, DE or Wilmington, DE for a family to have a graduation dinner? I've looked at some reviews and found Moro, Domaine Hudson (really a wine bar with food), and Restaurant 821. Do they live up to their hype, or could I do better?

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  1. I can't give feedback on any of the three restaurants you mention -- never been due to their lack of vegetarian options. If you don't have a veg among you though, I know I've seen posts praising all three spots.

    Another suggestion would be Toscana's in Trolley Square (Wilmington). Good italian food, more creative than most, not the red-gravy variety. Great salads and sides, interesting pizzas -- there's a fig and honey pizza that's on the menu from time to time that's excellent.

    1. Any one of those three fits the bill in terms of their fine dining vibe, with Domaine Hudson being the least stuffy of the bunch. I find both 821 and Moro to be severely overpriced for what you're getting (821 for the miniscule portions, Moro for the underwhelming service)--but if you're in "big spender" mode, you may not care. I've posted reviews of both DH (far and away my favorite) and 821 in the last year, which you can search Chowhound for. Be aware that DH is quite small, so if you have a big group, it may not be able to accommodate you unless you book way ahead.

      Toscana is a very nice option as well, and there is always the old standby of the Hotel Dupont's restaurant. (VERY fine dining, definite white-shoe territory though.) The same can be said about Krazy Kat in Montchanin--good food, but the crowd is, shall we say, on the mature side.

      Sorry, can't come up with anything in Newark. For my cousin's graduation dinner from UD last year, we went to Chesapeake Inn (Chesapeake City), which I do not recommend.

      1. I agree with what has been said above. It may be worth considering whether you want to be at a place conducive to talking. For a graduation dinner, I would put that high on my list, perhaps, shudder, even above the food.

        By the way, spyturtle, Moro can do a nice vegetarian meal if you ask the chef. It is not on the menu.

        1 Reply
        1. Can you get into the Blue and Gold Club on campus? Or perhaps Vita Nova (the best-kept dining secret in the state of Delaware) if they're still open at graduation time.

          5 Replies
          1. re: CindyJ

            OK, I'll bite. What/where is Vita Nova and why is it the best-kept dining secret in DE? It has been a secret from me, until now!

            1. re: travelmad478

              It's run by the Hotel, Restaurant, & Instutional Management Dept. at the Univ. of DE as a way for students to get practical experience serving, managing, hosting, and preparing food; located on the second floor of the Trabant Student Center on the corner of Main St. & S. College Ave. I've been a number of times for their lunch buffet, and it is always good -- two entrees, plenty of salads (green and pasta / grain salads), a soup, a carving station, a starch, vegetables, oven-roasted tomatos, a wonderful olive tapenade with garlic crusts, fruit & cheese, and an array of desserts. The price is excellent for all this food & variety -- $13.50. The dinner is substantially more expensive, but they also have a tapas menu. Wonderful wine selection. A few things to note -- reservations are required and from my experiences the lunch buffet books quickly very early each semester. So, you do need to play quite a ways ahead. And, the restaurant is only open when classes are in session, since it's essentially a laboratory.


              1. re: travelmad478

                Dinner is full-service, not buffet like lunch, and I've always found the food and service to be excellent. DO book well in advance for dinner, though. Oh, and I shouldn't have to say this, but I will. Please tip generously if you feel the service has been good. I say that because my daughter was a HRIM student at UD, and she worked at Vita Nova for 4 semesters. She told me that for whatever weird reason, faculty NEVER left a tip -- not at lunch, not at dinner. She often served the president of the University and his guests, and he never left a tip. BTW, the way tips work there (or did up until a few years ago), all tips go into a general pool and are shared (on some pre-arranged, pro-rated basis) at the end of the semester by all students who worked there -- both back and front of the house.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  That's very interesting to hear -- I've been told, as is indicated by the bill (there is no space to add a tip to the total on the credit card receipt), that gratuity is included with the charge. There's simply a line to sign on the receipt -- nowhere to add a tip. This is not the case? That's a bit troubling... And may explain why so few people tip (I'd imagine that many, such as myself, pay by credit).

                  1. re: spyturtle008

                    Yes -- I just checked with my daughter and you're right about the tip being included. But it's a a ridiculously low percentage of the bill -- maybe as low as 10%, which is why many guests leave an additional 5-10% for the server. The thought process behind this practice is that it's classwork for the students, not a "job", and they don't need to be compensated for attending class. That's the school's position; I'm sure the students who staff Vita Nova would have a different opinion. :)

            2. Good luck with reservations (you are probably looking for this upcoming weekend) But just joining the boards, I thought I would respond.
              I would suggest Harry's Savoy on Namaan's Road in Wilmington (rt 92) or Harry's Seafood on the Wilmington waterfront. I have had many great meals at Harry's Savoy for graduations, Mother's Day, etc.