SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Lots of movement happens around the Port City when it comes to restaurants, food trucks, bars and bottle shops, not to mention organizational and nonprofit foodie events and festivals. While Port City Daily already covers most of this news, “Small Bites” offers another way for readers to stay in the know.
READ MORE: Catch up on other food news of the week
Weekly, this column will unveil newsworthy tidbits, from smaller shifts and changes to local menus, expansions of existing establishments, temporary closures and renovations, added hours or grand openings, pop-up events and, of course, openings and closings.
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After two-year hiatus, Cape Fear Craft Beer Week suds up again
Cape Fear Craft Beer Week should be going into year five of festivities. Thanks to Covid-19, celebrations were put on hold for two years, with the last weeklong event hosted in 2019. It finally returns with 25 events listed on the Cape Fear Craft Beer Week (CFCBW) calendar, from Mar. 25 – Apr. 3, to celebrate the community’s 20 breweries, as well as many bottle shops and restaurants.
“While the pandemic heavily affected our industry, the craft beer scene in Wilmington is incredibly strong,” Front Street Brewery marketing coordinator Ellie Craig told Port City Daily.
Craig is also the president of the Cape Fear Beer Alliance which hosts CFCBW. The alliance formed in 2014 to advocate for the industry in local and regional government and beyond, as well as focus on education and promotion for the region to strengthen craft beer tourism.
“Breweries and bottle shops are our public houses — where people in our community gather to celebrate with friends and family, raise funds for local non-profit organizations, and I think people in our community feel like they are a part of community culture when they patronize our local craft beer establishments,” Craig said.
Craft Beer Week kicks off with a new release on Mar. 25 — a specialty collaborative beer, Low Bones Day IPA. It’s 7.2% alcohol by volume, available on draft and in four-pack cans for $18 at participating breweries and bottle shops, with all proceeds benefiting Nourish NC.
“Low Bones Day IPA is a cross between a West Coast and New England IPA with earthy bitterness and a nice tropical finish from the Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra, and HBC 586 Hops used,” Craig explained.
It was brewed at Bill’s Brewing Co. between Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance members. The beer organization and Nourish NC paired up early in the days of Covid-19 to conduct a grocery program that helped provide food to bartenders and industry workers out of a job due to the pandemic.
“We have made several donations to them over the years,” Craig added. “This will be the first time we will be raising money for them through a canned product.”
Another first taking place during Craft Beer Week 2022 includes the Battle of the Breweries Blood Drive. Craig said the executive director of the American Red Cross in Wilmington, James Jarvis, reached out to members with the idea.
“He had seen a Battle of the Breweries Blood Drive be highly successful in other markets and wanted to incorporate the concept,” Craig said. ”With the extreme blood shortages that we are seeing now, we felt like this was a great way for us to help our local community as a united front.”
It takes place Mar. 30 at Hotel Ballast, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and local craft breweries are competing for who can bring in the most donors. Donors will cast their vote for the brewery when they give blood (pre-registration required: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/donation-time).
Mainstays throughout the 10-day celebration include the Ultimate Brewing Championship and Craft and Cuisine. Both are returning in 2022 at new locations.
UBC will be held at East Coast Volleyball Academy (4608 Coddington Loop), with local breweries battling out for the best sip. The brewers chose two ingredients to craft a new beer at the wrestling-themed event, which also welcomes local industry professionals to dress up for the occasion.
“UBC is a blind-tasting, so attendees will not know which brewery brewed each beer,” Craig explained. “The winner is determined by people’s choice and receives a wrestling belt to display in their brewery.”
Tickets to the event, which takes place Mar. 25, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., are $25 and available for ages 21 and older only.
Cape Fear Craft & Cuisine is the penultimate beer week event, hosted at N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher on Apr. 2 (tickets: $90). The event welcomes upward of 500 people, and features 20 area breweries and 20 local chefs preparing a small bite to complement a 2- to 3-ounce sip. Participants can speak with both brewers and chefs to learn more about the flavors between married between bite and sip.
“Our local brewpubs, Front Street Brewery, Wrightsville Beach Brewery, Bill’s Brewing Co., Panacea Brewing Co. and Watermans Brewing, are working internally with their in-house chefs to prepare pairings,” Craig explained.
Breweries without a restaurant component are matching up with other eateries, such as New Anthem Beer Project and Seabird, Waterline Brewing Co. and Rebellion, Edward Teach Brewery and Three10.
The alliance has worked with the Courtyard Marriott Oceanside at Carolina Beach to offer reduced room rates for Craft & Cuisine ticketholders who wish to stay on the island for the night as well.
A full lineup of beer week events can be found here.
Pizzetta’s Pizzeria closes Wilmington location
In February, staff at Pizzetta’s confirmed to Port City Daily its Wilmington location would close, but the question of when seemed to linger. As of Sunday, Mar. 20, it became official: After more than a decade on Oleander Drive, owner Salvatore Lucido and family decided to shutter Pizzetta’s doors for good.
“Grateful doesn’t begin to describe what our little Wilmington hole in the wall has meant to us,” the crew noted on Pizzetta’s social media page. “From customers that became family, to memories and people of the past that we will always hold close, each and every one of you are coming along with us in our hearts.”
It doesn’t mean their famed specialty pies and homemade entrees, specifically showcasing Sicilian flair, will be gone from the area altogether. The family is putting more attention into their Leland location, which opened in Brunswick Forest in 2012. Currently situated at 1144 East Cutlar Crossing, the restaurant will continue to operate per normal with the same menu, plus a full bar. Expansion is underway, however, as the crew are slated to take over a 4,800 square-foot restaurant to launch by end of the year.
“A new and exciting location in Leland is on the horizon,” the post states, explaining it will open by fall 2022.
Pizzetta’s reveals on its website it had to make changes over the last two years due to labor shortages and supply chain issues affecting product availability. The restaurant has been closed on Sundays and Mondays for a while now.
“It’s just not possible to keep two locations open in today’s world,” the post stated.
Pizzetta’s in Leland is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Three10 + Hi-Wire = beer dinner
A beer dinner between Brooklyn Arts District’s newest modern seafood restaurant, Three10, and the Soda Pop District’s Hi-Wire Brewing will take place Mar. 28, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets are $60 a person, seated at tables of four at Three10’s bungalow, 1022 North 4th St.
The dinner will feature Three10’s executive chef and Hi-Wire’s head brewer presenting each course, starting with a Pink Lemonade Session Sour Ale and Rhubarb-Cured Snapper Crudo. The meal is prepared with snap pea-coconut cream, rhubarb ginger pickle, and black seed chicharon.
“The crisp tartness of the sour will compliment our rhubarb cured snapper crudo quite well — fresh, bright, spring flavors to start,” according to Three10 owner Jennifer Concklin.
She said the second course will be a bit heavier with Bed of Nails Brown Ale and Carolina Gold-Stuffed Quail, served with duck liver pate, glazed spring onion, and preserved lemon.
“The quail will compliment the richness of the beer, and the preserved lemon and glazed spring onion will bring the brightness needed to round out the pairing,” Concklin explained.
The dinner will continue with Mountain Water Easy Drinking Ale and Herb Crusted Flounder, served with sweet potato fritter, citrus broth, fennel bubbles.
“It’s a seltzer/ale hybrid and it’s phenomenal,” Concklin praised, calling the beer a “palate cleanser” complete with citrusy key lime notes.
Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA and Roasted Cheshire Pork Belly, served with kohlrabi beer cheese, kimchi peanuts, roasted pork jus, is served next. The maltiness from the beer is balanced by “bright grapefruit, tangerine and subtle melon,” Concklin detailed.
The meal will finish with 10W-40 Chocolate Creme Brulee Imperial Stout and Burnt Banana Pudding. Espresso-cacao caramel and salted banana cream will be highlighted.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Dave’s Hot Chicken opens Friday
According to the popular restaurant chain’s website, the grand opening has arrived in Wilmington: Dave’s Hot Chicken officially opens Friday, Mar. 25.
In January, operating partner Katie Wingard told Port City Daily the restaurant will have multiple locations in the state by the end of the year. Franchised by Russell and Loreen Hansen — who also operate Blaze Pizza in the Mayfaire area — the restaurant originally started in L.A.
“It opened in a parking lot under a pop-up tent, with lines that quickly wrapped around the block,” Wingard said.
Today, over 300 franchises operate in the U.S. and Canada, with rapper Drake, actor Samuel L. Jackson and Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner also stakeholders in the business.
The menu, created by founders Dave Kopushyan, brothers Tommy and Gary Rubenyan and Arman Oganesyan, is simple: tenders, sliders, kale slaw, mac ‘n’ cheese, crinkle-cut fries, and milkshakes. Diners can choose their tenders to be flavored one of seven ways, from a very mild “No Spice” to a flaming hot “Reaper.”
“You have to sign a waiver for the hottest,” Wingard said.
The operation is located in front of Independence Mall beside Masa Sushi.
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