Sunday, January 23, 2022

Port City Small Bites: New pizzeria headed to Market Street, True Blue slated to open South Front restaurant in January, and more

The old KFC building on Market Street in Ogden will become a pizzeria out of Greenville, N.C., Marabella. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Lots of movement happens around the Port City when it comes to new openings and closings of restaurants, food trucks, bars and bottle shops, as well as the launch of organizational and nonprofit foodie events and festivals. While Port City Daily already covers the majority of such news, smaller shifts and changes sometimes fly under the radar.

READ MORE: Catch up on other food news of the week

“Small Bites” fills in the gaps of coverage, and lets readers know what to expect when it comes to expansions of existing establishments or menu changes, temporary closures and renovations, added hours or grand openings, pop-up events or other newsworthy tidbits that may get overlooked during the daily grind.

Have something for us to consider? Email info@portcitydaily.com

New pizzeria takes over old KFC on Market Street

A restaurant based in Greenville, N.C., is making its way to Wilmington’s Market Street, now under renovation in the former Kentucky Fried Chicken building. Marabella Old World Pizza serves classic Italian pies and handmade pastas, sandwiches, wraps and paninis, salads, calzones, strombolis and other Italian delicacies.

The recipes come from the family of its founders, Salvatore and Pietro Passalacqua and Massimo Mannino. The restaurant’s website states the Passalacquas spent part of their childhood in Italy, until their father, an artisan baker, immigrated to the U.S. and settled in New York City. He worked at the famed Italian Food Counter until the ‘80s when he opened his own shop in Brooklyn.

The operation was family-based and the Passalacqua sons learned everything about cooking to carry on the business, mastering 75 years of family traditions and century-old recipes. In 2006, they moved to North Carolina and opened the first Marabella Italian Restaurant, focused on freshly made pastas, in Washington. In 2009, they launched the pizzeria in Greenville. 

Marabella pizza is served New York-style, plus it offers Sicilian varieties and specialty pies, like chicken focaccia pizza or a breakfast pizza topped with eggs, sausage, sweet peppers and potatoes. 

All dough and sauces are prepared fresh daily in-house, as is the mozzarella cheese, pasta and meatballs. 

The restaurant will be located at 6826 Market St. and, according to the staff at the Greenville location, there is not a firm opening date.

True Blue Butcher and Barrel to open in January

True Blue Butcher and Table announced in the spring it would launch its second butcher brand restaurant in the South Front District by fall 2021. Once September rolled around, the team was hopeful the eatery would be able to open by the end of the year. 

Delays have moved the launch date again, now slated for January 2022, according to True Blue’s marketing director Tori Gatanis. 

“Construction has taken a lot longer than expected,” Gatanis wrote to Port City Daily.

Like its sister restaurant in the Forum, True Blue Butcher and Barrel will be known for its onsite butcher shop, serving premier cuts of meats, with a menu centered on burgers and steaks. 

It also will have a bar program curated with high-end bourbon and whiskey, featuring over 300 brown spirits, including cognac, brandies and Scotch.

Barrel will be located beside New Anthem Beer Project, near Satellite Bar and Lounge and Second Glass, and only a block away from where owner and chef Bobby Zimmerman launched the Spanish tapas restaurant, Mariposa, in the spring. 

Seaboard Social Hall proposal, to open at 1315 S. 5th Ave., will be discussed by the planning board’s technical review committee on Dec. 16. (Courtesy City of Wilmington)

Seaboard Social Hall on technical review committee docket

Jason Queen of Monarch Property purchased the National Linen Building earlier in the year at 1315 S. 5th Ave. with plans to transform the 46,000-square-foot space into Seaboard Social Hall, a food hall and music venue. He’s one step closer to undergoing construction and renovations on almost 2.5 acres of land, as the City of Wilmington’s technical review committee will discuss his proposal at a Dec. 16 meeting.

According to the plans, proposed use for the site includes:

  • Food hall and boiler room, 16,285 square feet
  • Music hall, 16,570 square feet
  • Commissary kitchen, 6,193 square feet
  • Retail, 2,921 square feet
  • Radio station, 2,179 square feet

The concept will bring multiple chefs under one roof to create a culinary hub of creativity and service to community, as well as live entertainment from top-of-the-line artists, comedians and the like.

Queen told Port City Daily in the spring the $20-$30 million project has multiple investors and will bring 100 jobs to the area. Monarch is behind Raleigh’s Transfer Co. Food Hall and will be utilizing Clearscapes, an architecture firm behind venues such as Haw River Ballroom and Saxapahaw Rivermill in Alamance County.

Construction and renovations are expected to take 10 to 12 months on the mid-20th century building, which has two stories in each main wing with 32-to-36-foot ceilings and double-stacked steel trusses. Queen said he is looking at the surrounding neighborhood for inspiration for the building, adding to the revitalization of the Greenfield Lake area. 

Feast of the 7 Fishes at Junction 421

An Italian-American Christmas tradition, the Feast of the 7 Fishes normally takes place on Christmas Eve, featuring a multitude of seafood, such as baccalà (salt cod), frutti di mare (shellfish), capitone (eel), calamari (squid), scungilli (conch meat) and vongole (clams).

Junction 421 is hosting its own rendition on Dec. 7 for the community to partake in. The five-course meal will come with drink pairings and will take place Dec. 7; there will be two seatings at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The menu will consist of oysters Rockefeller, served with a lemon sparkler; clam chowder, served with Frei Brothers chardonnay; pickled shrimp salad; seafood risotto, served with Quandy North Pistoleta; and orange cannoli for dessert.

It’s $70 a person and reservations are required. Call 910-392-3490 or email junction421@ec.rr.com, and include how many will be in the party.

‘A Christmas Story’ Chinese takeout party

Seven Mile Post on Market Street is preparing to celebrate one of the holiday’s most nostalgic movies, set in 1939 Hammond, Indiana. 

“A Christmas Story” centers on young Ralphie trying to convince Santa and his parents to cave in and buy his most desired Christmas present: a “Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle.” The movie hones in on the chaos every family experiences during the holidays and the hilarity that often follows — such as when ma’s turkey is eaten by the neighbor’s hound dogs, sending the Parker family to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner.

Seven Mile Post is hosting a marathon movie-viewing on Christmas Eve, wherein “A Christmas Story” will be played on a loop. But the real fun comes in dinner: The bar will have a Chinese takeout party, providing the food to the public, 3 p.m. – 2 a.m. Pink bunny costumes from Aunt Clara optional.

Triple chocolate Godiva cheesecake from Chris’s Cosmic Cheesecakes, which is taking holiday orders and will deliver through Dec. 16. (Courtesy photo)

Chris’s Cosmic Cheesecakes taking holiday orders

Chris Lubben, the local cheesecake guru whose cakes took off when he operated Chris’s Cosmic Kitchen on Eastwood Road a decade ago, has been operating Chris’s Cosmic Cheesecakes as an online business for a year now.

Yet, he also has been popping up at local farmers and artisan markets in Carolina and Wrightsville beaches, Southport and Ocean Isle, getting face-to-face time with customers. On Sunday, Dec. 5, the operation will be set up at Seaglass Market (5601 Castle Hayne Rd.) from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., serving cheesecake bowls in many flavors: ​​eggnog with gingersnap crust, Baileys Irish cream, chocolate peppermint, lemon blueberry swirl, classic vanilla, turtle, banana pudding, and peanut butter cup. He also will have mini sampler packs available: chocolate chip cookie dough, classic vanilla, lemon blueberry swirl and Oreo.

Chris’s Cosmic Cheesecakes is taking holiday orders through Dec. 16, 5 p.m., and the company delivers throughout the area.

Tropical Smoothie raises funds for Camp Sunshine

Three locally franchised Tropical Smoothies — midtown, Porters Neck and Leland — are holding a fundraiser to help send terminally ill kids and their siblings to a retreat in Casco, Maine.

Camp Sunshine has been helping kids since 1984 find support, respite and enjoyment in the midst of battling a life-threatening illness. For 13 years, Tropical Smoothie has partnered with the camp to raise over $7.5 million in funds that has served over 3,000 families.

Through Jan. 2, 2022 donors can make a minimum $5 donation, with all funds going to the camp. The link is on the website here, and features applications to refer a family to the camp or to volunteer with the nonprofit. After a donation is made, individuals can follow instructions to download the Tropical Smoothie app and redeem an offer to receive two free smoothies.

Wish Upon a Chef fundraiser scheduled for January

Always a sold-out event, the Make A Wish Foundation of Eastern N.C. has opened tickets for its Wish Upon a Chef event, to be held Jan. 20, 2022 at the Burney Center on CFCC’s campus. Funds raised will go toward fulfilling the wishes of children fighting critical illnesses.

Wish Upon a Chef will be hosted by comedian Orlando Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”) and WWAY broadcaster Donna Gregory, with a live and silent auction taking place and kids sharing their stories.

Guests will enjoy the creations from 12 area chefs. All dishes are served table side, and judges will be scoring favorites.

Tickets start at $100 and include wine and beer.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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