Wilmington's downtown Spanish tapas restaurant, Orillas, opened it's doors November 2008, and my initial visit was only a few weeks after their opening, which, admittedly, is too soon to judge. On that initial visit I noted a few things that needed changing, and it seems that with my most recent visit almost all of those changes have been implemented.Orillas revamped their menu, and even included a section listing vegetarian dishes. Before I had to quiz my server on what was and wasn't vegetarian. I still think there are some items not in the vegetarian section that can be easily made vegetarian, so don't limit yourself to this one section of the menu.
You can now order a cheese plate with just cheese on it. Before it was a cheese and meat plate, or at least that's how the menu read.
The uncut flat bread served on a curved ceramic plate that I struggled to cut with a butter knife, now comes pre-sliced on a wooden plank.
Servers are still a little odd. This go round, our server asked if we had heard of tapas before, and also explained each menu page. Um...my Mom was eating tapas in her podunk hometown before you even entered high school, and I'm quite capable of reading menu headings. Pleasant server, otherwise.
These marinated wild mushrooms were not the marinated I was thinking of -- tangy vinegar-- but were straight-up earthy with oil and balanced seasonings with a squirt of roasted pepper sauce.
The breaded and fried baby zucchini paled next to the accompanying sweet and tangy tomato mango salsa. Really can't fault the zucchini, it's just that the salsa was so vibrant. And the squirt of roasted red pepper sauce, while pretty, is unnecessary with such strong flavors from the salsa. Squirts of roasted red pepper sauce made appearances on many dishes, and is a bit overplayed.I tried the crema Catalana, a Spanish version of creme brulee. Light citrus flavors were nice, but the custard was grainy, and the caramelized top was thin and only caramelized in the center.
Sampled but not pictured:
Mushroom, roasted garlic, and Manchego Flatbread - great flavors, but melted cheese made for extremely greasy finger food.
Tomato salad with sherry vinaigrette and Cabrales - bright tangy flavors, but some of the tomatoes were grainy, and this should not be so in the middle of summer.
Patatas - roasted fingerling potatoes serving as fancy french fries. I thought they were seasoned perfectly, another thought they needed more seasoning. It's true, no one can agree on salt levels!
Rice pudding - Oh my god, this was the best thing I put in my mouth all night long! This warm, buttery, raisin and spice-spiked rice pudding might even be the best rice pudding I've ever had. Get it!
I enjoyed the food a little more than before, simply because I sampled more things. Chef Julio Lazzarini is cooking up some solid tapas, but nothing arrestingly sublime like Garces is doing in Philly with his every expanding tapas empire that currently includes Distrito, Amada, Tinto, and Chifa. It is unfortunate to be serving tapas in a town so close to Garces.
But like Garces, Chef Lazzarini will be giving Wilmingtonians more -- or so that's what he told us when he visited our table to chat. Hot off his appearance on the Food Network's chef competition show, Chopped (I missed this show in it's entirety, including Chef Lazzarini's appearance), Chef Lazzarini mentioned offering a weekend brunch at Orillas.
Yes, y'all! Brunch! In downtown Wilmington! I swear, if this happens and y'all don't go and support what will be one of only a few businesses open in downtown on the weekend, I'll stomp around and make a pissy face.
Chef Lazzarini also mentioned opening a Nuevo-Latino tapas restaurant in the future. I approve.
Update: Orillas has moved up the street to 902 Market St.
Orillas 413 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE 19801
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11am-2:30pm
Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 5-10pm; Fri & Sat 5-11pm