A bakery, a bee, a beer and a bite in Milford
Longtime Milford resident Chrissy Sarro is like a cute little bee buzzing around my head, repeating over and over, “Check out Milford! You’ll like it!” She has been threatening … uhh, I mean … promising a series of personalized Milford tours for a while now, and last week the stars aligned themselves in such a way that our schedules were in sync. So northward I trekked.
Though not a Milford native, Chrissy has been there since 1978. The culture shock of living on a 100-acre farm in rural Delaware after growing up in New York was difficult for the 14-year-old. When her father took over the old Oliver’s Meeting House on Rehoboth Boulevard to open Benedetto’s restaurant, the family found themselves immersed in a food-service crash course. It was even more difficult because of some local pushback because they were “outsiders,” but a good Italian meal trumps everything, and the place was quite successful - until it burned to the ground in 1987.
Chrissy loved the business of eating and worked as a cook for awhile, eventually partnering with her mother in a Milford café. Things went well there - until the floor collapsed. Apparently this was a big deal, as the Army Corps of Engineers gave them 45 minutes to vacate.
They returned to the burned-out Benedetto’s and opened yet another eatery, specializing in upscale lunches and dinners. This one remained standing with the floors intact, and that’s where she met Kevin Reading. Kevin had recently opened Espuma in downtown Rehoboth Beach, and Chrissy loved to unwind there after long days in her own restaurant. She followed him to Nage around 2003 and eventually sold her Milford eatery.
Reading saw the opportunity to add proven talent to his resources, and Chrissy began to help out with parties and events. Her trial by fire was to plan, coordinate and cater an important wedding - namely, Kevin’s! She pulled it off like a pro (well, she is a pro) and suddenly she was bartending and waiting tables regularly at Nage. She immediately connected with Reading’s new partner (and present owner of Nage) Josh Grapski.
Her love for Milford eventually won out, however, and when Reading opened Abbott’s Grill in the old Smith & Company Steakhouse, Chrissy took the opportunity to help him get the place up and running. She now helps out with marketing and catering. “It’s good to be back in Milford,” she says. “And I get to hang out with my parents.”
Part of that marketing involved luring a particular Rehoboth Beach restaurant columnist to the northern hinterlands, and she knew exactly how to set the bait: Dolce Bakery! In addition to being a coffee shop, ice cream parlor and a local hangout, George Carroll and Chuck Stanko’s cozy spot on Walnut Street is also a venue for George’s signature Philadelphia Buttercake, Gooey Chocolate Cookies, the Breakfast Cookie (with Grape-Nuts, yet!) and the award-winning chocolate cheesecake. Consume a couple of these with an iced quad latte (four shots!), and you’ll be flyin’ under your own power for the rest of the afternoon.
Of course we hadn’t had nearly enough sugar (!), so Chrissy introduced us to Peggy at Sugar Bee Sweet Boutique next door to Dolce. Somewhat reminiscent of Edie Bee’s in Lewes, Sugar Bee has all the vintage candies in shiny glass apothecary jars, along with the rather-pricy-but-worth-every-penny DeBrand truffles. Peggy generously allowed us to taste around a bit, so by the time we left we were hallucinating, but happy.
Properly fueled, we proceeded to the Mispillion River Brewery where they were conducting a throwdown among several of their new brews. We were encouraged to guzzle some selections in order to qualify us for voting. (So much for the sugar/caffeine buzz.) The winner will be released this Saturday, June 21, on the patio at Abbott’s Grill. There will be live music, food specials, and of course, beer. Abbott’s was grilling brats outside the brewery, but we decided to lunch back at the restaurant. Of course, Chrissy Sarro had everything planned, and we got to taste all her favorite dishes.
This article might very well be the first in a series, as that little bee is already buzzing around with tempting suggestions for even more fun in Milford.