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A Tasteful Expedition

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Chicken pomaro and pasta bolognese from Cousin’s Italian Deli, to be served at this year’s Taste of the Town fund-raiser. Photo by Bethany Turner

Located in Wilmington’s beautiful downtown historic district, Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts enjoys an ongoing symbiotic relationship with the area’s finest restaurants. This year its marketing director, Gary Tucker, remains excited about introducing a competitive format to the 11th annual Taste of the Town,  coming up on September 17th.

“The chefs love it,” he says, “the idea of competing for Best Appetizer, Best Entrée, and Best Overall. Thalian Hall and downtown restaurants capitalize on each other, and Taste of the Town represents a Who’s Who of downtown dining. Theatre patrons often like to include fine dining in their night out on the town.”

Taste of the Town, the brain child of the administrative staff, is a major fund-raiser to support Thalian Hall’s mission statement: To present a broad range of educational, entertainment and cultural programs; to be a major regional resource for quality spaces, equipment and services; and to preserve the symbol of Wilmington’s cultural heritage for future generations.

For this casual-dress event, patrons need to buy a ticket and arrive at Thalian Hall by 6 p.m. to pick up their credentials, voting card and map of downtown. They will walk, if they prefer, or ride a covered trolley, which is provided free for Taste of the Town.

They can expect sample fare from each restaurant to be slightly larger than the French equivalent of an amuse-bouche (one bite). Fifteen restaurants will partake in all, including the contemporary Americana of Aubrianna’s and Manna; a taste of the Mediterranean with Black Sea Grill and The Greek’s Authentic Mediterranean Deli; French fare from Caprice Bistro; fondue from The Little Dipper; multi-cultural cuisine from 9 Bakery and Lounge; elevated diner fare from Nick’s Diner; and a touch of Asian fusion thanks to Phun Seafood Bar and Yosake. Sister seafood restaurants Elijah’s and The Pilot House will return, as Cousin’s Italian Deli makes its debut at the event. Cash bars will be available and patrons may tip their servers.

Participating restaurants will offer both popular and exotic fare, such as chicken pomaro and pasta bolognese from Cousin’s; pâté, beef stew and macaroons from Caprice Bistro; stuffed baked oysters, and shrimp and grits from Elijah’s; and sweet potato grouper and ham and collard soup from The Pilot House.

Restaurants can win only one category, but all will receive marketing during events at Thalian Hall. Plus, they will be listed on restaurant-guide materials available in the Thalian Hall lobby. Winning restaurants also will receive additional advertising as a prize, valued at $1,200 per year.

Taste of the Town will be held rain or shine. If patrons wish to walk, they are advised to wear comfortable shoes and to carry an umbrella.

Returning patrons are excited about voting this year for their favorite fare and ambiance. Michael Goins looks forward to walking the downtown trek with “old and new friends,” sampling lots of good food, knowing that we are helping support Thalian Hall.

“Taste of the Town is such a fun event,” returning patron Beth Crookham says. “It’s a great way to celebrate Thalian Hall and at the same time enjoy the culinary arts, which are becoming such a big part of downtown Wilmington.”

Proceeds from this event will support all the programs and general needs of Thalian Hall. With its 650 seats, Thalian is one of the oldest and most beautiful theatres in America. Thanks to the mercurial energy of its executive director, Tony Rivenbark, it has improved through three renovations, during the years 1974, 1990, and 2010.

“Tony has built a Wilmington hallmark that’s truly amazing,” Tucker said. “Thalian Hall will host 500 plus events this year and that does not include rehearsals. There is something going on almost every single day. It has inspired 17 different theatre companies in the greater Wilmington area. Opera House is already negotiating its 2015 season for time and space.”

To support this Wilmington treasure while enjoying the finest cuisine in Wilmington, hop aboard the trolley with Gary Tucker this coming Tuesday, September 17th. With a cap of 300 tickets, patrons are advised to secure their tickets as soon as possible. Call Thalian Hall’s box office, (910) 632-2285, (800) 523-2820, or go to

Taste of Town

A fund-raiser for Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts
September 17th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Thalian Hall • 310 Chestnut Dr.
Tickets: $40

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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