Yesterday afternoon a couple of us were lucky to tag along for the Corolla Outer Banks Restaurant Tour with Terry Bell! It was a fabulous day and we learned so much that we didn’t know before about the local restaurants right here in Corolla. I have worked in Corolla for just about 8 years, so that is pretty impressive!
We kicked off the tour at Outer Banks Popcorn Shoppe and lets just say, name a flavor and they have it! And who would have thought they all would be delicious! As we walked in, a fresh batch of kettle corn was popping…yum did it smell delicious! The flavors ranged from white cheddar popcorn all the way to watermelon and decadent Corolla Crunch (caramel corn with almonds and cashews). My favorite was between the jalapeno cheddar, old bay and the s’mores! It was awesome because they even let us take a sample bag home of our favorite…I went with s’mores which is caramel corn with melted milk chocolate, chocolate covered graham crackers and marshmallows….YUM!
Next stop on the list was Mike Dianna’s Grill Room and boy were we in for a treat! We were greeted by Mike Dianna himself who put on an amazing cooking demonstration, along with a refreshing glass of white wine, right in front of our table! We were the only ones in the restaurant and boy was the experience one to remember. He gave us a little history about his restaurant which was amazing! He has been in the same location for over 16 years and all the wood that they use on their wood grill is cut right here in Currituck! Can’t get much local than that. They make all of their sauces in-house and they only bring in the freshest, natural cuts of meat. They get as much of their seafood as local as they can, as well as their produce! It was amazing to listen to his story and actually get to see him cook for us! Click this link for a quick vine video showing him in action: vine.co/v/bEh5FqbpO3p.
The sauce was made from scratch with cilantro, orange juice, a little rice wine vinegar and finished with some cream. He then heated up a skillet in front of us and added some sautéed garlic and shallots deglazed with white wine. Then, he added some succulent oysters and sweet corn! All with some crusty bread to make sure we got up as much of that cilantro sauce as we could. Believe me, it doesn’t get better than this! It was absolutely delicious. Great atmosphere, great local owner, amazing homemade sauces, and the food can’t get much fresher or local than Mike Dianna’s Grill Room!
Third stop was a new restaurant located in Monteray Plaza (near the Corolla Food Lion) called Salt Water Grill! We were greeted by their owner who was born and raised in North Carolina! He wants to bring a local flair to the restaurant by getting as much as he can right from North Carolina. It was a very relaxing atmosphere with decor that made you feel like you were in a beach house. He was inspired to make it a place where you can have intimate conversation with family and friends to reconnect over a delicious local meal with a glass of wine or beverage of choice. Made you feel at home! We were lucky to get a private tour of the kitchen by one of the amazing chefs. He gave us a little background about himself and took us by all the stations of the kitchen area. He then showed us and went into great detail on how they seasoned and prepared their signature pork belly, which is one of their signature appetizers. He started with the rub, which was really interesting to watch. Instead of ground spices, they start with the whole seeds and have a very time intensive process on how they get the best flavors from the spice! They use this spice mixture to rub down the pork belly. He then went into details on how they press the pork belly and how it is a 7 day process! Let’s just say whatever they do, they do it right! Boy was that pork belly tender, delicious, and packed with so much flavor. The house braised pork belly was served with a homemade country potato salad and a blackberry-bourbon barbeque sauce! Another cool thing is instead of simple french fries, they serve homemade zucchini fries which are prepared individually and take a lot of time in doing so! They were out of this world! They are made with hand-cut local Currituck County Zucchini, a house parmesan breading made with panko and served with a delicious honey-habanero aioli. Another cool thing about them…they are served in paper bags bringing in that southern flair! Definitely check Salt Water Grill out. They will be serving lunch as well.
Next up was Bambino’s Little Italy located in the Corolla Light Town Center across the street from the Whalehead Club. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did! We were greeted by their owner Matt Broughton who served us a delicious pinot grigio. We then got to meet and talk with Chef Randolph! He first brought us a delicious appetizer, which was a fried green tomato and one juicy red tomato, topped with a cheese curd and finished with some microgreens, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. YUM, YUM, YUM!!! Best Fried Green Tomato I have had and his take on the caprese salad was out of this world with it! Next, we were welcomed with
a seared U10 scallop with a light pasta dressed with olive oil and diced, local asparagus! Unbelievably delicious. To top the visit off, which was hard to do, Chef Randolph brings out his version of strawberry shortcake (which includes a sauce made from roasted, local strawberries)…oh my, DELICIOUS!!
Last stop ended at Bacchus Wine and Cheese, located in Monteray Plaza (near the Food Lion in Corolla). If you love wine, cheese, chocolate, delicious and unique sandwiches, then this is a must! We were welcomed by one of the owners’, Kim. She had an amazing cheese spread ready for us with all kinds of delicious cheeses that were paired with 5 different delicious wines to try. My favorite was a red wine that went perfectly with a delicious fig chocolate we got to have with it. Definitely a great place to relax and spend the afternoon.
Terry was an awesome hostess and we had such an amazing time! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves food and wants to find a fun, new way to experience the local cuisine that the Outer Banks has to offer! Thank you Outer Banks Restaurant Tours, couldn’t have been any better! Can’t wait to bring my family and friends on their next OBX visits!