WILMINGTON — Chef Bobby Zimmerman of True Blue Butcher and Table has opened his first restaurant in the South Front District. Mariposa launched Friday and is now serving lunch, brunch and dinner, Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m, and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Located at 1502 S. 3rd Street near The Harp and beside of Big Benny’s on Greenfield Street, Mariposa focuses on traditional Spanish tapas. Its soft opening on Wednesday and Thursday nights welcomed familiar faces from around downtown, local business owners, civic and nonprofit organizers, developers, and restaurant industry folks who were welcomed to try out the varied menu.
“Order as much as you can,” Chef Bobby announced through the small kitchen window. “We need to perfect and practice.”
Above the bar, pitchers hung, awaiting to be filled with Mariposa’s two sangrias: white with lemon and honey, and red with a warm cinnamon finish. The restaurant also has a variety of Spanish wines.
With every glass ordered, a complimentary plate of tapas — two cheese slices, two chorizo slices and an olive, all drizzled in olive oil — is delivered to cover the glass. Its a tip of the hat to a tradition that started back in the taverns in Andalusia, where a slice of bread or meat was handed to customers to cover their drinks to prevent fruit-flies from entering.
By 5:30 p.m. the restaurant was abuzz with the clicking of forks poking into carrilleras de cerdo — braised pork cheeks, piquillo pepper, fennel, and garlic — and pulpo, which comes with charred octopus and chorizo with potatoes, served over a Romesco sauce. An elevated charcuterie and cheese board, served on black slate, tempted with olives, jamon, chorizo, Manchego, hot peppers. The conserves board is like the seafood version of charcuterie: tuna belly, sardines, cockles and razor clams.
Zimmerman told Port City Daily in March he has secured Manchego from a small producer, which outputs seven kinds of cheese a year. Mariposa serves three: Manchego of various ages, plus aged Mahon and Idiazábal. It also serves handcrafted olive-oil from a fourth-generation maker.
“You can drink it, it’s just that good,” one of the servers said upon delivering it to a table.
Pan con tomate, a common item served in restaurants and bars in Spain, consisted of thickly sliced bread, dripping in tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. Mariposa also offers the addition of cheese.
Traditional tortilla Espanola was served in large portions, three triangles to an order. The potato-onion omelet comes with aioli and roasted tomato sauce for dipping.
Heartier eaters had their appetites sated by albondigas, beef and chorizo meatballs in tomato sauce with olive oil, as well as solomillo con cabrales, beef tenderloin with blue cheese and manzanilla olives.
“I think the shrimp and garlic with chiles is probably what I’m most excited about,” Zimmerman said in March. “Sourcing the shrimp was critical. You get these beautiful blue prawns that are pretty massive — so beautifully fresh. To be able to serve a shrimp of that caliber with the head on, with the beautiful simplicity of the garlic chiles and papayas, I think that’s probably the one I’m most intrigued in exposing because it’s really, really simple.”
During lunch bocadillos (ham and cheese, tortilla Espanola, and Spanish ratatouille sandwiches) and a burger are offered. The sandwiches also are featured at brunch, which will be a menu culminating in lunch and dinner items plus a few more specialty creations.
There is outdoor dining on Mariposa’s wrap-around porch of the craftsman-style home-turned eatery. Courtyard dining also is available, and reservations are now open.
Zimmerman’s Mariposa won’t be the only new addition to the neighborhood’s culinary hotspots — Benny’s Big Time, Second Glass, Block Taco. The chef is launching a second True Blue beside of New Anthem in the fall.
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