Restaurant Week is Back

The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s Restaurant Week is almost here! The new restaurant weekannual event is running this year from Monday, February 22 through Sunday, February 28. The event is to highlight the restaurants as well as our beloved downtown and its fantastic aesthetic and diverse nightlife. Each location will offer specials intended to entice you to try their wares as well as that of their colleagues.

The list of restaurants in the downtown Winston-Salem area is out and available for your perusing. You can see the full details of the event here. To highlight just a few of the establishments and a sample of their specials to whet your whistle:

DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant$30 Special – 1 shared Appetizer, 2 Baked Dishes, 1 Shared Canoli.

Willow’s Bistro & Bar:
$20 Special – 
1st Course: cup of soup or salad
2nd Course: Grilled Scottish Salmon: over wild mushroom risotto, asparagus coins, shaved manchego.
3rd Course: Makers Mark creme brulee with fresh berries

$30 Special –
1st Course: roasted veggies or grilled romaine
2nd Course: Grilled 8oz. Cafe Steak: over gouda mac n cheese, grilled asparagus, & fried onion rings
3rd Course: Sous Vide Banana Pudding

King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar:
$20 Special – Full Bucket – Dreamy Steamy Bucket: steamed mix of spiced up snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters

$30 Special – Bucket for Two – Dreamy Steamy Bucket: steamed mix of spiced up snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters

$30 Per Person –
Choice of Starters:
Soup du Jour
Little Gem Artisan Lettuce Salad: with roasted tomato, English cucumber, house made crouton & aged red wine vinaigrette

Choice of Entree:
House Made Pasta of the day(eg. Ravioli, Lasagna, Manicotti)
Pan Seared NC Mountain Trout: with starch, vegetable & sauce
Grass Fed Bistro Steak Lyonnaise: with pommes frites, dressed artisan lettuce & Meridian steak sauce

Choice of Housse Made Dessert:
Bread Pudding: with caramel & creme chantilly
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Dark Chocolate Torte with ganache & creme chantilly

Mellow Mushroom:
$20 Dinner for Two –
Choice of 2 lil’ salads (tossed or caesar)
1 medium 1-topping pizza to share
1 brownie sundae to share

$30 Dinner for Two –
Choice of Hummus or Bruschetta appetizer to share
1 large specialty pizza to share
1 brownie sundae to share

Mission Pizza:
$20 Special –
1 pizza of your choice, green salad, and daily dessert

$30 Special –
2 pizzas of your choice OR 1 pizza of your choice and 1 plate of your choice, and dessert

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar:
Classic Spring House: $20 –
Choice of seasonal soup or HOUSE salad
The Colonel 2.0.16: crispy buttermilk fried chicken atop corn waffle with brown sugar smoked apple infused maple drizzle
Warm Bread Pudding
**please no substitutions

Winter’s Bounty: $30 –
Shrimp and Crab Beignets with Red Beet and Horseradish Remoulade
Choice of seasonal soup or HOUSE salad
Fred Flintstone’s Pork Shank: Savannah inspired red rice with lemon, parsley and dijon bread crumbs and HOUSE pepper jelly
**please no substitutions

Camino Bakery:
$20 Special –
Bag of Krankies whole coffee beans and a loaf of bread of your choice

$30 Special –
Bag of Krankies whole coffee beans, loaf of bread of your choice, and a bottle of Honoro Vera Garnacha

There are plenty more wonderful restaurants participating. Again, see the full list on the DWSP website.

A few disclaimers that are very important here:

*Restaurant Week Specials are dine-in only so, no take outs.
*Restaurant Specials are subject to change and that’s a possibilty. The prices exclude tax and tip. Take care of those who take care of you.
*If you’ve a food allergy, questions about ingredients or any other special restrictions, please check with individual restaurants.
*Restaurant Week Specials are subject to availability; they may, and often do, run out of the Special.
*Please check with restaurants prior to dining if you have questions about the Specials; don’t call the DWSP about it, they’re not in control of that info.
*If they run out of the Special, the restaurant is not obligated to provided a replacement dish.
*Coupons are not accepted in conjunction with these specials. Check with restaurants for coupon policies.

If there is an error on this page, the official restaurant special at the Restaurant is correct; I’m but a guide through the awesome food land and I have been known to almost make a mistake a time or two.

The important thing here? Go enjoy delicious food and support local establishments. You never know who you may see out there!


The Willow’s Wine Dinner Part I

On January 31, we attended a wine dinner at Willow’s Bistro. An elegant dinner with delicious food, lush wines and fantastic community. Owner Will Kingery was a gracious host welcoming around fifty food enthusiasts and letting his star chef, Travis Myers, willows-logo_optshow off his culinary super skills. Chuck King, from American Premium Beverage was there to guide us through the wine adventure while Chef Myers enlightened us to his culinary treats. Some notable food names that were in attendance was Tony and Maria Dilisio, from DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant (I’m sure you’ve read about them here before), local “don’t call him a foodie” food enthusiast, Carroll Leggett and Winston-Salem Journal’s very own food editor, Michael Hastings, who we had the pleasure of having with us at the table at which we were seated.

In this two-part reflection, I’ll give you an idea of what you missed and why you should be on the lookout for the next pairing event happening at Willow’s Bistro.

Amuse Bouche: Roasted Old Salt – Rappahannock Oysters 3 Ways

This was paired with Gloria Ferrer Brut

I believe the consensus around the table was that we all enjoyed the roasted garlic, truffle butter and caviar the best. It was the most balanced. Not that flavor was an issue in any of the three, this was just the clear-cut winner. The bubbly Brut was a good pairing with the oysters.

First Course: Goat Cheese Truffles

Goat Lady Dairy goat cheese rooled in Willow’s own crushed candied pecans, port poached figs & pears, frisée, Fair Share Farm microgreens, Cloister Honey wildflower honey & lemon vinaigrette.  This was paired with Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc.

The goat cheese was tangy but those flavors were tamed a bit by the candied pecans, but I WillowsDinner2don’t mean that it dumbed it down. I just mean that some people don’t like the tang of goat cheese. Instead, they want their cheese to be more savory, yet not void of the creaminess that goat cheese offers. This dish preserved that tang while adding a crunch and when paired with the port poached figs and pears and the honey and vinaigrette gives a breadth of tang and savory.  The Sauvignon Blanc made the whole dish, especially the tangy cheese, sing.

Fish Course: NC Golden Tilefish

Tilefish with a puree made of Evangeline sweet potatos from Hunter Farms, “dip” beurre blanc liquid ravigote (which means reinvigorated) drops, the secret weapon, microgreens and manchego cheese shavings. The best part of the dish – something you’d not expect to WillowsDinner3go with fish – is a bit of Border Springs lamb belly prepared Lexington BBQ “style.” Lamb belly with tilefish? Well, yes, exactly BBQ’d lamb belly with tilefish. It was the fish course, to be sure, but the lamb belly stole the scene. The tilefish was quite meaty and worked with the sweet potato puree and the beurre blanc sauce. That would have stood up on its own, but once you add the lamb belly the flavors jumped into the sapor exosphere. The manchego was a somewhat odd addition and it probably wouldn’t have mattered had it been missing, but what would be missed, the microgreens and the lamb belly. This dish was paired with Stonestreet ‘Bear Point’ Chardonnay.

This was the first three of the six (with a palate cleanser) courses. I’ll catch you up on the rest of the courses in the next post. Part II will be here, soon and i promise it will be worth it!

DiLisio’s Wine Dinner, January 2016 Edition

by Timothy G. Beeman II20160117_180828

On Sunday, January 17, 2016, Stephanie and I, along with our dear friends, Paul and Susan Jones, attended the January Edition of DiLisio’s Wine Dinner Series. It was a Five-Course event complete with French and Californian wines. The restaurant was completely packed full of lovers of delicious foods and beverages. There was plenty of time to converse with the new friends that were seated around you in this “family style” dinner format. I’m going to include a description and pictures of the event.

First Course: Roasted Mission Figs with Gorgonzola and Bacon accompanied by Fennel Blood Oranges


1st Course

I’ve never really been a fan of figs, but this was delicious. The figs were earthy and creamy but still firm. The flavors of fennel and blood oranges, along with the figs were brought to the front with the salty bacon. I have to admit, though, I didn’t taste a lot of the Gorgonzola, which I really hoped to catch more of. However, it was a good mix of sweet and savory. It was paired with a Bouvel Brut from Loire Valley. Nice bubbly with plenty of fruit flavor.

Second Course: Macco di Fave with Cauliflower Crostini


2nd Course

Less of a soup but more of a puree. Two different kinds of fave beans with crushed cauliflower and crunchy bread. It was warm throughout and while I generally don’t eat crunchy bread but when left in the warmth it softened and was flavored quite well. A great dish. It was paired with the Terra d’Oro Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend from Clarksburg.

Third Course: Scottish Salmon served with a Carrot Mint Puree, Brussels Sprout Petals and White Chocolate drizzle


3rd Course

This is by far the most beautiful of the dishes on the night’s menu. Also included is nuts and raisins. The white chocolate really set the flavor of the salmon alight and the carrot mint puree was exquisite. A nice touch was the edible orchids, which, on my plate, were gone immediately as I am a fan. The Brussels Sprouts petals were very light and not popping with flavor, which I think was the point. The raisins and nuts brought a chewy and crunchy aspect to the dish that, while I normally am not a fan of nuts in softer foods, I thought were a welcome unexpectedness. It was asked of Tony DiLisio at least twice for that to be on the regular menu. It was paired with Row 11 Vinas 3 Pinot Noir from California. And contrary to the commercial Pinot Noir does not mean “peanut of the night.” A tasty fruit-forward red that polished the salmon and white chocolate, perfectly.

Fourth Course: Lamb Chop over Wild Mushrooms, Grilled Polenta and Spinach with a Pomegranate Balsamic Glaze


4th Course

This. This was the dish of the evening. The lamb chop was a fantastic and luscious piece of meat and the pomegranate balsamic glaze was a magnificent marriage of the sweet and savory. Perfectly prepared meat over a polenta cake which was crisp on the outside and creamy inside. This with the spinach and mushroom medley, the flavors were immaculate. This was being asked, more than any other dish, about its potential for being a permanent fixture. Tony explained to me that the lamb takes so long to make that it would probably be best as a special and not as much a full-time entree. This wonderful dish was paired with Domaine Galevan “Le Puy Saint Martin” from Vaucluse. Another red, which made the pomegranate sauce pop and the flavorful juices from the meat even more intense. Deliciously so.

Fifth Course: Espresso Mousse with Pistachio Shavings


5th Course

Served in a coffee cup, this foamy, whipped wonder was topped with a collection of crushed pistachio and two coffee beans. A dessert that was rich and creamy that was plenty on the java essence and abundant. This finisher was the brilliant conclusion of a most excellent evening. Paired with Beran Zinfandel from California, a which, to me, had a slight vanilla hint made the chocolate and coffee hints of the mousse stand out even more. Other than the absolute-must of lemon sorbet, this would be the second best dessert that I’ve ever had at DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant. If you see it on the menu, you must try it.

As always, my wife and I left happy, satisfied and a belly full of wine.  DiLisio’s Restaurant and their kitchen staff as well as (and especially) their wait staff did a superb job of keeping our drinks full and our plates fresh or freshly removed. They were always good with a quick poke or rib with me and seemed to do a good job with everyone else as well. Taking care of forty plus ingesting and imbibing customers isn’t always easy but Jillian, Stacy, Caroline, Debra and Hailey did a fantastic job keeping us all in perfect order.


Maria and her “girls.”

Tony and Maria DiLisio, as always bring some the best and freshest Italian food you’re going to have in our fair city. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you never try DiLisio’s Restaurant. They’re open every day but Monday and you can find them at 301 Brookstown Ave., Suite 100 and on the web. Thank you Tony and Maria for throwing a heck of a soiree.

DWSP Presents Restaurant Week 2/15-2/21

Did you know that the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership is presenting Restaurant Week from Sunday, February 15 through Saturday February 22?  Well, you do now!


DWSP Restaurant Week

What is Restaurant Week?  We’re glad you asked.  Restaurant Week is a food event where many of the downtown Winston-Salem restaurants offer special prix fixe menus of $20, $30 or both.  For example: a restaurant can offer an appetizer, an entree and a dessert (chosen to form a combo) for $20 per person or they may offer a double portion for $30.  Make sense?  Maybe not.  Let’s give some real examples:

Bib’s for example has the following:


$20 Special for 2
3 Rib Bone Plate: Each person gets a plate that comes with 3 Rib Bones, Choice of Red or White Slaw, 1 side item, Hush Puppies and Toast
Choose 1 dessert to share

$30 Special for 2
Half Rack Rib Bone Plates: Each person gets a plate that comes with 6 Rib Bones, Choice or Red or White Slaw, 1 side item, Hush Puppies and Toast
Choose 1 dessert to share

They can also offer extras such as this: Beverage Pairing Suggestions (Additional Charge)
WINE: Our ribs pair nicely with the Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon or North Carolina’s Childress Pinnacle
BEER: Our ribs also pair nicely with the Olde Hickory Ruby Lager or the Highland Gaelic Ale which are both North Carolina brews

Let’s look at another restaurant’s offerings.
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar offers this:
3 Course Dinner $30 per person
BOOM! M-80 Crispy Shrimp: texas pete voodoo sauce
Filet Mignon: cabernet franc butter, oyster cornbread dressing & gorgonzola fritter
Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Nutella Cake: hibiscus cherry infused sweet cream

$20 Special per person
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Pan Gravy: atop smoked tomato and pimento cheese grits, M-80 sauce, ‘Bama BBQ sauce, Sriracha aioli
Spring House Bread Pudding: caramel Kahlua sauce and sweet cream

So these are only examples.  Here is a comprehensive list of participating restaurants…

6th & Vine Wine Bar & Cafe
Augustine’s Bistro
Bayberry Bistro
Bib’s Downtown
Black Mountain Chocolate
Camino Bakery
Di Lisio’s Italian Restaurant
District Rooftop Bar & Grille
Downtown Thai & Sushi
Foothills Brewing
Hutch & Harris
Jeffrey Adams on Fourth
Kabobs on Fourth
King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar
Mellow Mushroom
Mooney’s Mediterranean Café
Mission Pizza
Old Fourth Street Filling Station
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar
Twin City Hive
Wen Hwa Asian Fusion Cuisine
Sweet Potatoes…a restaurant
West End Coffeehouse
Willow’s Bistro

We could have saved you reading that and just sent you to the website, but what fun would that have been?  We recommend calling ahead for reservations and remember that these are dinner specials only and, of course, they’re subject to availability and all that jazz. Also, the restaurants are subject to change and more could be added or some may drop out; it happens.  Go, eat, have fun, take friends, enjoy and tell us what you think. Even better, let DWSP and the restaurants know what you think.  Help make this Restaurant Week a success.

Have fun!

DiLisio(s): A Play on the Delicous

Wow, so it’s been a while since we have written on this blog.  That’s shameful, to say the least, being as we taut ourselves as foodies, food bloggers and food podcasters.  Well, we DO do a lot of food podcasting.  At least in that, we have done well.



So the focus of this post is a quaint little family-owned Italian nook called DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant.  It is located at 301 Brookstown Ave. Suite 100 in Winston-Salem.  That space is right across the breezeway from Twin City Hive (which is home to the new Haute Chocolate and Revolution Gliding Tours and the new coffee shop), in fact they did a combined grand opening just recently.  That location probably sounds familiar to most Winston-Salemites – at least those familiar with downtown – as the space where the much-beloved Mary’s Of Course Cafe was located.  Probably more comments than not are “I’ve not been here since it was Mary’s.”  Even more recent was the ill-fated Screaming Rooster and before Mary’s it was Penny University, a coffee shop.  This location has some culinary history.

With DiLisio’s the culinary awesomeness continues.

In showing our laziness in the writing area we’ll give the disclaimer that this is not our first time eating here.  Nor is it our second, or third, or… we get it! We’ve been slack (but we did talk about it on Tart & Tangy Triad podcast).  But, let’s push that out of the way, let’s get to the business at hand.


Tony and Maria DiLisio

DiLisio’s is the baby (they have two daughters, this is a dream baby) of Antonio DiLisio, or as we call him, TONY, and his beautiful wife, Maria.  They have surrounded themselves with a serving corps that makes the experience more like you’re at a neighbor’s house than a restaurant.  Jade and Dannie, just two of the corps, are the ones we’ve gotten to know more than others and they make you feel not only welcome, but truly “at home.”  They knowledgeably answer questions, not only about the food, but the wine list, desserts, vision of the DiLisios and even silly questions that Tim throws at them.  Maria sometimes waits on tables and does some of bussing work, much of the less glamorous work, but where she truly shines is in being the front-of-house.  Her wonderful smile sets the patrons in the mood of a welcoming home-away-from-home.  Can you tell that we really enjoy the team? Tony pats Tim on the belly every time he’s in and calls him Pavarotti (yes, just like THAT Pavarotti) and Tim picks him up and spins him around like a toy.  They love each other.

Now, to the “meat” of the situation – after all this is a food blog.

The menu reads with the staples that you expect from an Italian restaurant.  Basically, there isn’t anything on the menu that gets fancy. Nothing jumps from the menu with fireworks and revelry.  It’s Italian fare that is mostly typical.  That being said, what do you need your Italian food to do?  You need it to taste like it’s supposed to and you need it to be delicious. Italian food hasn’t really changed much in generations after generations and decades, centuries and millennia of Italian families sitting at a table and breaking bread together with miles of wonderful pastas and sauces, oils, cheeses and other Italian fabulousness.  So why change it now? Why reinvent the wheel? This isn’t gastrochemistry or the trendy, new-fangled Nouveau Southern that so many restaurants tend to try to create out of thin air.  You don’t need that with Italian food. You need Italian food done right.

What you do get at DiLisio’s is food that is made with passion.  Tony has a hard time letting anyone else cook for him. He puts his heart and soul in every dish that a fork may touch.  Flavors provide the explosion; taste buds dancing.  Even spaghetti, that can be plain, is never plain once it has been given the Tony treatment.  And the DiLisios are actually Italian, as in FROM Italy, so they know Italian flavor.  Ok, we know, you can’t taste words, so let’s talk about specifics of the menu.

We mentioned the lack of pizazz on the menu (at least on paper), but what this menu is, is extensive.  Appetizers including calamari, caprese salad, bruschetta, fried mozzarella, fried ravioli and an antipasto plate just to name a few items; the menu is more capacious than that.  Tim likes to test a restaurant’s meddle by how they do calamari.  The first trip, we tried it and we knew we found a good eatery. It was golden squid magic and tasty.

The salad menu is home to eight salads and yes, that does include the house, chef and Caesar staples (along with the fried or grilled chicken over them) that you’d expect. But, add the spinach and salmon and the grilled seafood salads and that’s a pretty good selection of green stuff.  Their dressing choices are good, too: balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard, Italian (of course), Thousand Island, and then some; don’t forget oil and vinegar if that’s your thing.  Their pasta, baked or entree, and specialty dishes all have house or Caesar sides. If salads are your thing, while the others around you are eating the heartier stuff then you’ll have plenty of options.

As we mentioned, it’s Italian as you’d expect: spaghetti with house sauce, spaghetti with meatballs or sausage, penne in a variety of styles and toppings, and several ravioli options including lobster. Also, there are baked dishes, such as: chicken or veal parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, manicotti, stuffed shells, ziti, baked spaghetti, and gnocchi sorrento. We’re not just breezing through these, you should definitely try them, Tim strongly suggests the veal parm. Yummy!

Perhaps the best section of the menu, though, is the chicken, veal, and seafood section.  You get to choose your favorite protein such as chicken, veal, shrimp, salmon, mussels, clams, or lobster tail, then choose your style and Tony works his magic. Those styles include marsala, pizzaiola, marinara or its wicked brother Fra Diavolo (Tim’s favorite), cacciatore, a chardonay sauce, scampi, picatta, or toscano.  Tim says this is the gem of the menu. You can get side items such as sautéed spinach, sautéed broccoli, sautéed mushrooms, side meatballs, and side sausage.  Those can go with any dish.


Seafood DiLisio (now)

We decided to take a few friends of ours, the Priests, owners of Krankie’s Airstream and Coffee Park, to the restaurant to introduce their mini-foodie (shout out to Marley Priest!) this weekend and even had a food allergy in the group (no cheese or butter) and Tony was able to work around that and come out sparkling. Also, one of the group members doesn’t really eat anything outside of the regular child fare (she’s eight); so chicken tenders and fries for her.  Mini-foodie had eggplant parmigiana while her dad had the Penne with sausage and fungi and her mom had the Penne al Pesto.  Stephanie had Clams Picatta and Tim had a special: Lobster a la Tony (see the picture to the right)!  It was lobster tails, clams, and mussels all cooked with a cherry tomato wine sauce.  The consensus among the group was this was an amazing meal.  The sauce with the special popped of the wine and seafood.  There was a good marriage of the flavors and Tim thought it was a clever inclusion for the night. So maybe you can step out of the box in Italian food.  Tony DiLisio can.

If we were going to pick anything negative it would be that the beer selection is mostly American and the import selection is Heineken and Peroni, which if Tim going to have Italian, he certainly wants a Peroni, but he thinks the selection could grow a bit. But, most don’t think beer with Italian, they think vino, and that they have a great selection.  Some have also complained that the interior is kind of plain, but a homestyle restaurant needs time to grow and  like a well-seasoned pan, it needs time to accumulate style and memories.  Trinkets and artwork don’t make a good restaurant, that will come.  Food and great people, make a good restaurant.  This is a good restaurant. Correction: This is a great restaurant!

When you’re in the mood for your next great Italian meal, or in the mood for something different from what you’re already used to, we highly recommend DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant.  Chopsticks:  4.25.