When Scott Stein and Antimo DiMeo opened Bardea Food & Drink in Wilmington in 2018, they never imagined that their dry-aged steaks would be the most popular item on their interpretive Italian menu.
"When we designed this concept that steaks would be as big as they are," Stein told WDEL.
From there, the idea to open a steakhouse next-door to their flagship restaurant was born.
"I said there's a great opportunity, what a city, look at all the development going down here with Bardea. Then, the fact--listening to the audience--why is there not an amazing steakhouse in downtown Wilmington?" asked Stein.
They started drafting plans for Bardea Steak with Stokes Architecture, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Plans for the concept were halted until better times. B
"We had a lot of anxiety about what the future was going to hold over here," he said. "Within a week to see your business drop 80%...and then to ultimately close, which was originally supposed to be two weeks, and then ended up being close to two months. You don't feel great. But we used that, and I really credit Antimo, he really got focused on changing stuff up in the kitchen, really finessing for the first time, we were doin such volume, to really hone in...we really upped our game and just feel very empowered at the moment. "
Business began picking up through spring and summer, and Stein and DiMeo went public with their plans for Bardea Steak this week. It will operate in 5,000 sq. ft. of space on the 600 block of Market Street. What will make this steakhouse stand out:
"We're going to use an open-hearth, wood-fire grill to cook meats and give it a little bit of a different approach than Bardea. Antimo loves to refer to as it's going to be a 'meat kingdom.'"
They also plan to offer outdoor dining, which grew in popularity during the pandemic, and an extensive wine list that Stein described as "fun." Also in the mix, a craft cocktail cart with every ingredient made to order.
"We're going to take that same approach and create that excitement, the way we've done Italian at Bardea--do that for the steakhouse...we don't want to a classic steakhouse. We want to have the same kind of energy that we have at Bardea."
Stein told WDEL Bardea is proud to be a part of Wilmington's renaissance.
"I'm tired of Wilmington being referred to as that place when you're on 95 when you're going to New York to DC, Philadelphia to Baltimore, that Wilmington as the place you pass on the way. And the proof is in the pudding at Bardea. People are coming from Center City Philadelphia, the suburbs or Philadelphia area; they're coming from New Jersey; they're coming from Maryland. People road-tripping--we had diners coming the other night from Long Island--they literally just came down to try the restaurant and stay over at the Hotel du Pont.
We see a great opportunity now with a boutique hotel. We're right in the middle of La Fia, the boutique hotel, the Queen, and above, higher up, Stitch House, DiMeo's Pizza, Chelsea, and DECO, and the Hotel du Pont. We hope that the soundbite is going to be that we're going to downtown Wilmington and we're going to head over to 7th Street and enjoy this new destination dining that we've kind of created in the center of downtown Wilmington.
We feel like we have the city behind us."
Bardea Steak plans to open in early 2022.