Oyster ice cream: A surprising scoop of American food history

“People actually ate this...It was once a big deal in Read more

Chocolate, ice cream and N.C. root beer!

In my favorite round, Battle Uncle Scott's Root Beer, Merrell, who runs the tapas restaurant and "cocktaileria" Circa 81 restaurant in Morehead City, prepared one heck of a riff on a Black Cow, that famous chocolate, ice cream and Read more

Cooking lessons learned at 2014 Fire on the Dock

As the contest moves into its final battle tonight, I'm thinking back to the ideas I got during the 2014 tournament, part of the statewide Competition Dining Series that ultimately crowns an overall North Carolina winner from four regional Read more

Southern Collards should be the new kale

Will collards be the new kale, darling of diners seeking farm-to-table fare? If the 2014 Fire on the Dock chef competition is any indication, maybe. Read more

Food touring in Carrboro with Taste Carolina

As I often say, "I'm eat up with it," and Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours fed my obsession quite well this past weekend. Read more

3 new sandwich spots in Wilmington

Sweet ’n’ Savory’s expansion into former Kefi digs leads north Wilmington restaurant news, all of it involving sandwiches. The Pub at Sweet ’n’ Savory has opened, as has two other sandwich shops. Read more…


Posted on by lizbiro in Restaurants, Uncategorized, Uptown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach Leave a comment

Overinduldge! It’s for a good cause

Tickets are still available for Surfers Healing, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at Port Land Grille, Lumina Station, 1908 Eastwood Road, Suite 111.

Chef Shawn Wellersdick, one of Wilmington’s best, is planning the multi-course menu to include a cocktail social with passed hors d’oeuvres, a plated appetizer, a salad, various entrée choices and a family-style assorted dessert platter, said Wellersdick’s wife and business partner, Ann Steketee.

All proceeds from the $250-per-person event go to Surfers Healing, which hosts surf camps for autistic children and their families. Legendary pro surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz and his son, Surfers Healing founder Israel “Izzy” Paskowitz, will be at the fundraiser.

For more info, call Port Land Grille at 910-256-6056 or go to http://www.portlandgrille.com/

Find out more about this charity food event and others coming up in the next few weeks in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in dinner specials, Local food, Restaurants, Uptown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach Leave a comment

Caffe Phoenix good-bye photo gallery

When it comes to describing Caffe Phoenix, Manna owner Billy Mellon summed it up best in his quote this week to the press: “When I first moved to Wilmington, Caffe Phoenix was our glamorous, big-city restaurant. All of the beautiful people worked there. And for a long time that’s what came to mind when you mentioned Wilmington restaurants.”

I could see the original Phoenix so clearly as I read Mellon’s comment this morning. In the 1990s, the original Phoenix at 9 S. Front St. was the reason I visited Wilmington. Wearing our most fashionable outfits, my girlfriends and I would sit in its balcony dining area and look down on the scene, feeling for the couple of hours we were there as if we had been transported to Philly or New York City.

Each of us had our favorites: Joyce always did risotto cakes atop veal demi-glace. Jackie insisted on anchovies in the plate of olive oil Phoenix provided for dipping its homemade bread. I chose Spinachi con Prosciutto, a dish of hot pasta tossed with lots of prosciutto, garlic, fresh spinach and parmesan cheese.

Those early days were followed by numerous business lunches and drinks at Phoenix. I made connections and friends there who have contributed so much.

Phoenix inspired numerous articles I wrote as well as my downtown food walking tour, Culinary Adventures with Liz Biro. The restaurant’s history, its role in helping to revitalize downtown Wilmington, the many celebrities that dined there right up to the end and the interesting people who worked there were my key reasons for starting the tour.

The tour has introduced dozens and dozens of diners to not just downtown restaurants but to chefs and dining rooms all over Wilmington and beyond, insuring that the Phoenix legacy will endure. Keeping its impact alive, too, will be the movement of its latest chefs, Carson Jewell and Alex Morgan, to their own restaurant in 2013. Read about their plans in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Here are some of my yummy shots from Phoenix over the past few years.


Posted on by lizbiro in Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Restaurants Leave a comment

Gluten-free sweets at new bakery

Uprising specializes in baked good to suit people with dietary restrictions.

With the United States being the biggest buyer of gluten-free foods and the market projected to reach $2.6 billion in sales this year, it’s no wonder Wilmington’s newest bakery is touting gluten-free.

Take-out or eat-in is available at Uprising, which also taps into other good-for-you food trends. Local, organic and vegan join the bakery’s gluten-free selections.

“I just did our first vegan, gluten-free shower cake,” Bree Peterson-Resnick said.

Peterson-Resnick has a great story. Get the scoop and find out where this bakery is located in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in Bakery, downtown Wilmington Leave a comment

New fall food fest coming to Wrightsville Beach

Autumn’s inaugural Taste of Wrightsville Beach food and drink festival will showcase the town’s many restaurants while boosting fall tourism there, organizers say.

Small as it is, the shoreline town hosts more than a dozen places to eat and neighbors many others, any of which might show up for the 4-7 p.m. Oct. 27 event at the Robert’s Grocery parking lot in downtown Wrightsville Beach.

Ticket-holders roving the festival’s tasting stations will cast votes for a People’s Choice Award, Taste of Wrightsville Beach planner Lisa Weeks said. Professional judges will rate dishes, too, with honors going to the best.

Details about the event, how to volunteer and how restaurants can participate are in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in Food festivals, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Wrightsville Beach Leave a comment

Pizza, fresh bread from new Italian deli’s ovens

Hungry Heroes is new to Porters Neck.

Long tables full of fresh bread in the kitchen of north Wilmington’s new Hungry Heroes gives the impression that Willy’s Bakery still lingers at the 8024 Market St. spot, but Hungry Heroes is all sub sandwiches, salads and pizza.

Owner Pat Funigiello’s family spent 30 years in the deli business in Albany, N.Y., before bringing Hungry Heroes here, Funigiello said. The shop opened Monday where Willy’s used to be in the shopping strip that hosts La Costa Mexican restaurant near Porters Neck.

Find out what’s on the menu and where this deli is located in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in New restaurants, Restaurants, Uptown Wilmington Leave a comment

Pulled pork BBQ coming to Leland

“This is our cooker, the Mercedes of cookers,” David McCall says of the giant steel box in the middle of the budding dining room at Duke’s Old South BBQ in Leland.

McCall speaks with the authority of a seasoned pitmaster, but Duke’s is the architect’s first foray into the food business.

McCall and his wife, Bo McCall, decided to fire up the smoker when the recession cut into David McCall’s architectural profits.

The couple’s plans are welcome news in the Cape Fear region, where barbecue lovers often bemoan the area’s lack of great barbecue restaurants.

Find out more, including when this restaurant is slated to open, in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in barbecue, Brunswick County, New restaurants, Restaurants Leave a comment

Olive Tree Deli Co. chef pops up at wine bar

When The Olive Tree Co. delicatessen closed its downtown store in 2010, fans bemoaned chef Paula Pacini shuttering the stove.

The Olive Tree Co. was more like a deli/fine dining hybrid. Born in Ecuador, Pacini was the kitchen’s maestra, turning out lovely, Argentine-style beef cutlets, housemade kale empanadas and wild mushroom and spinach lasagna in addition to American comfort food and deli standard and inspired sandwiches.

Pacini disappeared from the area’s dining landscape after Wayfarer Deli moved into The Olive Tree Co. space, 110 S. Front St. Recently, she popped up in The Fortunate Glass wine bar kitchen, 29 S. Front St., just a block away from her old restaurant.

Read my full report in the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Restaurants, wine bar Leave a comment

Crow Hill chef starts Cafe Johnnie tonight!

The always rapid change of Wilmington’s dining landscape was evident again late Wednesday night when Pine Valley Market announced that chef and Crow Hill owner Derrick Cook would join the Café Johnnie kitchen today at Cameron Art Museum.

Cook and wife Anna Sharma just this past Sunday closed Crow Hill, 9 S. Front St. A day later, Pine Valley Market co-owner Christie Ferretti was reaching out to Cook.

He’ll work alongside Ferretti this evening, preparing her menu for this week’s edition of Café Johnnie’s regular 5-9 p.m. Thursday dinner service.

Get the scoop on Cook and his role at Cafe Johnnie in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in dinner specials, downtown Wilmington, Local food, Restaurants Leave a comment

Crow Hill follow-up: Where will chef pop up??

Reports that downtown’s recently deceased Crow Hill might reopen were inaccurate.

Crow Hill owner Derrick Cook said he was “blowing off some steam” when he said that the restaurant on July 17 might start dinner service again.

“That was me being frustrated,” Cook said of the comments.

Crow Hill, 9 S. Front St., served its last meal Sunday night. Cook, a chef,  has his eye on a fresh option. Read my full report and new developments  in the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Restaurants Leave a comment
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