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Monday, May 27, 2024

Port City Small Bites: Pizza headed to The Cargo District, Sour Barn rebrands with arcade

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” offers another way to let readers know what’s happening on the local food scene — 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 and other newsworthy tidbits.

Salita pizza to open in The Cargo District this spring

Last April, Jim Diecchio and his family were moving back South to Wilmington, after leaving the Port City to help open three restaurants in D.C. during a pandemic. This April he hopes to open his own pizza shop, Salita, in The Cargo District.

“We missed this area,” said Diecchio, who helped start Benny’s Big Time, Vivian Howard’s Italian restaurant that opened in 2017 in the South Front District. “My wife and I both fell in love with Wilmington and the beach, and always saw us raising our son here.”

He and his wife were married in the District of Columbia and had their reception in a pizza shop, nonetheless. So when Diecchio had the opportunity to move back and help launch The Duck and the Peach, La Collina, and the Wells gin bar, he couldn’t pass up the career-advancing move.

“I accepted the job before everything kind of went crazy,” Diecchio said, noting the pandemic changed the way his family planned to enjoy living in the metropolitan capital. So he pivoted again.

Diecchio now serves as the pastry chef at downtown’s Seabird, a position he plans to retain while opening and operating Salita. “With a baking background, doing pizza was kind of like second nature,” he said.

The 300-square-foot restaurant will be located in the former tattoo parlor at Queen Street Barbershop. There is enough room for a wood-fired pizza oven, a cooler and some counter space. Customers will order from a walk-up window, and there will be outdoor seating, including 30 or 40 bistro tables around the shop and down the alleyway of The Cargo District’s courtyard..

“It’s going to be very seasonally driven,” Diecchio said of the pies. “I have a lot of great farmer connections from working here.”

The menu will include six options on a rotating basis — both served with tomato and white bases — two salads, maybe a few sandwiches, and dessert, he estimated. Pies will be offered in one size only, 10 inches — “more like personal pizzas.”

“The crust will be a naturally leavened sourdough,” Diecchio said, “thinner in the center but with a bubbly, airy crust with some nice char on it — a little bit of chew, a little bit of crunch.”

Diecchio plans to hire two people to help run Salita, open four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, with potential hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Balancing time between Seabird, Salita and his family is the end-goal, Diecchio said: “I’ve spent so much of my career working really hard for other people, and I’m at a point now where I want to work really hard for myself, but I also want to be able to enjoy my time with family.”

The Sour Barn rebrands, adds arcade

For five years, local craft brewery Broomtail has operated a second taproom on Market Street in Ogden, which, up until December, has been known as “The Sour Barn.” 

“There was always some confusion about what The Sour Barn was,” said Stephanie Koch, who has managed the taproom since 2018. “A lot of people didn’t realize we were here; other people didn’t think we had anything other than sour beers.”

The barn always sold Broomtail sours, as well as plenty of options from its full portfolio (its flagship brewery is located a mile or so south in Dutch Industrial Square at 6404 Amsterdam Way). A few years back, owners Barry and Lisa Owens refreshed the Broomtail logo — going from Broomtail Craft Brewery to Broomtail Brewing — and updated the canning labels. On Tuesday, it will streamline the brand further when The Sour Barn officially reopens as Broomtail Brewing Pub and Arcade.

Since Christmas, the barn has been closed to undergo some freshening up — repainting and adhering new neon graphics to the walls. Also installed are two arcade games offering multiple old-school classics — Donkey Kong, Miss Pac Man, Galaga, Frogger. There are older gaming consoles, such as Nintendo 64, available in cozy seated nooks. Plus, board games and oversized Connect 4 and Jenga are offered. Air hockey and a pool table have been added as well.

“We needed something, just a little bit of fun in this area — something that Ogden was missing,” Koch said. “Living in this area, my entire neighborhood is people around my age, 35, looking for something to do — have a beer and play foosball with a friend, or sit down and play a game of Mario Kart with a group of people. This is a big up-and-coming area, and we wanted to make sure that we were bringing something different to the table.”

The bar program will still serve 12 Broomtail taps, including significant sour options. Koch said they also will add in more bottles and cans, not only from local breweries but other popular brands, like Boulevard Brewing Co. and Anderson Valley Brewing Company. A variety of flavors will be available — ambers, stouts, ales, IPAs, nonalcoholic beers, ciders, even seltzers — as four- and six-packs to purchase to-go.

Broomtail also started a collaboration with Wilmington’s End of Days Distillery and will offer a small cocktail menu for the first time. Koch said she has been working with the distillery’s Oliver Earney over the past few weeks to devise the offerings. 

“They don’t have a bourbon and or tequila right at the moment, so we’ll probably get a different brand for the people that drink those things,” she added. “Basically, we want it to be End of Days craft spirits alongside our craft beer.”

Broomtail will host a reopening party on Feb. 5 with music by blues performer Randy McQuay, a photo booth and food truck will be on site too.

Broomtail Pub and Arcade will open Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, until 11 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m., as well as Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. 

Seabird at Home

Seabird in downtown Wilmington began offering the “Seabird at Home” program Wednesday, providing a three-course dinner for two for $47.  

The first week featured a spinach Caesar with roasted shiitakes, croutons and green tomato slaw, plus smoked yellowfin tuna lasagne bolognese with ricotta and herbs. The finish was Jim’s olive oil cake with citrus and mascarpone. 

It sold out.

Neff has announced his next menu will be $44 and feature buttermilk fried chicken, Carolina Gold dirty rice, braised collards, and a peanut and cabbage slaw. Jim’s donuts with dipping sauce will be served for dessert. 

Seabird will offer suggested add-ons, including wine pairings, so consumers can purchase takeaway bottles, and soups, bread and cheese. Chef Dean Neff even curates a playlist for the dinner experience (the first one can be accessed here). 

Orders will open online soon for Feb. 3 and must be placed by 3 p.m Wednesday; pickup is from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. No substitutions are allowed and directions will be included to properly reheat.

Sweet n Savory Cafe launches new menu

Wrightsville Beach’s Sweet n Savory Cafe dropped a new dinner menu on Jan. 24, featuring seafood selections (from waterzooi to Calabash-style platters) and a chophouse section, with filet medallions and Prime rib skillet. Hand-cut steaks, served with two sides, one topping and homemade steak sauce, price out between $14.99-$53.99, depending on cut and ounces. Smokehouse platters (ribs, brisket, pork smoked sausage) and comfort food (meatloaf and corned beef ‘n’ cabbage) appear among numerous appetizers, salads, sandwiches and burgers. 

Prices are $3.99 and up, and the dinner menu is offered daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sweet n Savory is located at 1611 Pavilion Pl.

Have brews and bites tips? Email

Shea Carver
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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