Flavor profiles from across state lines

Jun 20, 2024 • 5 min. read | By Sarah V. Rhue

Restaurants throughout the region serve up nostalgic nosh for transplants here are a lot of food options in Wilmington – vegan, international and, of course, Southern – but what of those who miss their taste of home?


Joe’s Oasis brings a taste of Pennsylvania with its pierogies. Maine Lobstah Shack has just that: authentic lobster from Maine. Brooklyn Café goes farther south with a taste of beignets from Louisiana. Port City Plates is a call home to New York, specifically Rochester. And S & L New York Style Deli has a direct pipeline, its bagels and rolls hailing from the Big Apple and baked daily.


These are just a few of the restaurants bringing a unique taste to the area – a piece of a not-forgotten life to those who have moved here from other areas of the country, or a new experience for the native Wilmingtonian.


(Photo by Megan Deitz)

S&L Deli

2317 S. 17th St., Wilmington |  sldeli.com/about

Channeling the ubiquitous New York City corner deli, S&L’s owners have built their lineup around city favorites for their breakfast and lunch menus. 

There are bread items from New York, such as New York-style egg sandwiches, as  well as stacked Boar’s Head meats-and-cheeses rolls. Customer lunch favorites include the Godfather (an Italian combo), Penn Station (Reuben), and Downtown (Philly cheesesteak) as well as those with classic NY names including the Liberty, Yankee Stadium, Times Square and Central Park. 

The family-owned and -operated deli draws former New York residents as well as hospital staff because of its proximity to Novant Health NHRMC’s main campus on 17th Street.

Louie and Tami Natoli, moved to Wilmington in 2005 from Stony Point, New York, and opened the eatery, which is owned by Louie and Tami's brother Steve Ercole. 

Their dessert menu also is New York-inspired and features New York-style cheesecake and sfogliatella, a shell-shaped Italian pastry. And they offer catering services as well.


(Photo by Megan Deitz)



Brooklyn Café

706 N. 4th St., Wilmington | facebook.com/BrooklynCafeNC

A neon “Beignets All Day” sign greets customers coming to Brooklyn Café looking for a taste of New Orleans. 

Brooklyn Café is a restaurant that serves, according to co-owner Rodney Robbins, “made from scratch and served hot” beignets from his mother’s recipes. 

Beignets, with their origin in France, migrated from their home country to New Orleans – a center of culinary creation in the South. 

Rodney and Marilyn Robbins brought that taste to the Brooklyn Arts District near downtown Wilmington. 

Brooklyn Café’s beignets and donuts are a simple and delicious choice. There are even vegan beignet options.

The cafe also is quickly becoming known for its Java Estate coffee and wine and beer options.




Photo c/o Maine Lobstah Shack


Maine Lobstah Shack

411 Roland Avenue, Surf City |  mainelobstahshack.com

You can hear Maine in the name – Maine Lobstah Shack has brought lobster rolls to Surf City since 2021. 

Maine Lobstah Shack was started by a family from Maine that moved to the area in 2015, according to its website. 

Those from the Northern coast will be familiar with Maine’s lobster rolls – a signature dish for the restaurant and the region. Maine Lobstah Shack’s lobster roll ingredients are local to their original home: lobster from Maine and rolls from New England. 

“A processor in Maine cooks the meat, then it’s fresh, never frozen and delivered to the restaurant,” co-owner Trevor Dostie said. There are variants of this dish on the menu, such as “Lil Surfer Lobster Roll.” The Maine Roll is its most popular. 

The Shack – as it is called on the website – can also be found around town with its newly launched food truck. 



Photo c/o Port City Plates


Port City Plates

portcityplates.com |  facebook.com/PortCityPlates 

(for food truck locations)

Trash plates are said to originate in New York, specifically Rochester. They are a mingling of American street food, such as hot dogs and hamburgers, combined together with sauces and a base of home fries.

Port City Plates boasts “Rochester Style Trash Plates” with a Wilmingtonian twist – the names of the trash plates are all well-known, local areas, such as the Wrightsville Beach option.

Their main customer base is from “Western New York to include Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo – go Bills!” said Shelly Marketell, who owns Port City Plates with her husband, Rob.

Their best seller is the Carolina Beach plate, followed by the Cape Fear plate. 

Port City Plates is a food truck that brings authenticity out and about. The owners are from Western New York and therefore have experienced the real deal and brought it to Leland when they moved.




Photo c/o Joe's Oasis

Joe’s Oasis

6400 Carolina Beach Road, Unit 10, Wilmington  | joesoasis.com

Under its “Taste of Pittsburgh” section, Joe’s Oasis has housemade pierogies on the menu. The cheese-and-potato-stuffed dumplings are topped with the classic garnishes of onion and butter and laid on sour cream. 

Joe’s Oasis was opened by a “born and raised” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native Cathy Krizner, according to the restaurant’s website. Opening the eatery in Masonboro Commons in 2013 as a tribute to Krizner’s late husband, the neighborhood bar strives to bring a step above pub food to the area. 

Pierogies are a signature dish – and can be pre-ordered by the dozen – but there are other tastes of Pittsburgh, such as Isaly’s chipped ham or a turkey Devonshire.

The bar’s patrons also can order Iron City and I.C. Light beers from Pittsburgh Brewing Co.

You can also find pierogies on the menu at Whiskey Trail, 4039 Masonboro Loop Road and 3525 Lancelot Lane, where varieties include the Masonboro with bourbon pork belly, onions and white cheddar and the Philly with shaved ribeye, grilled mushrooms, onions, green peppers and queso.

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