New Area Restaurants Add Exciting Tastes and Flavors – 9th Annual “Taste of Coastal Carolina”


Taste Co-Chairs Diane Baldwin and Sherrie Starr present the Peppermill Trophy for Best Restaurant to Chef Smoke Boyd of The Flame. Photo by: Rick Meyer

The 9th annual Taste of Coastal Carolina was held on Tuesday, March 13th at the Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern, to benefit the Neuse RIVERKEEPER Foundation.  Thirty-one of New Bern’s finest dining establishments participated, giving the more than 550 attendees a wonderful evening.  Restaurants competed for votes to be named the “Best” in a number of different categories including Best New Taste Participant and Overall Favorite and winner of the coveted, traveling. “Peppermill” trophy.

The Overall Favorite Restaurant and winner of the Peppermill Trophy was long time New Bern favorite, The Flame Catering and Banquet Centre, and its owner/chef Smoke Boyd.  Second place went to Persimmons and Chef Gerry Fong, last year’s overall winner.  And third place was awarded to Chef Ashley Moser at 247 Craven.
Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Mitch Blake presents the award for Best New Restaurant to Chef Sami Ben Selma of Bella Cucina. Photo by: Rick Meyer

Winners of this year’s voting among attendees for Best New Restaurant at the Taste went to:  1st Place – Bella Cucina, 2nd  Place- The Bethlehem Shop and Deli and 3rd Place – The Wild Cupcake.

Bella Cucina is located on Trent Road in the former Pia’s and features authentic Italian food.  Chef Sami, who is classically trained, hails from Milan, Italy. After spending several years working for hotel restaurants around the world, Chef Sami went to New York and then came to New Bern.  The Bethlehem Shop and Deli is owned by Basma Hjouj. Since coming to the U.S. in 2004 from her native Palestine, she has introduced New Bern friends to Middle Eastern cuisine, especially food from Lebanon.  Last summer she opened her storefront on MLK Blvd. where she offers food, featuring her baklava, as well as Mediterranean groceries and items. The Wild Cupcake is owned and operated by Nicole Costa.  Nicole has a home-based cupcakery offering unique flavor combinations.  She sells her goods at the Farmer’s Market and by special order.

Voting was tabulated for 5 special food categories:  Best Appetizer, Best Soup, Best a La Carte, Best Entrée and Best Dessert.  The winner and runner-ups were:

Best Appetizer

1st  Christoph’s on the Water for their Shrimp “Cones”
2nd – Persimmons for their Carolina Sushi
And a Tie for Third Place – Bethlehem Shop and Deli for their Lebanese Spinach Pies and Le Bistro Fine Dining and Art Gallery for their various appetizers – salmon mousse, raspberry duck

Best Soup

1st- The Harvey Mansion for their Szechuan Carrot Soup with Roasted Peanuts
2nd  The Flame who served Butternut Squash Soup
And another Tie for Third Place – The Hurricane with their Crab Chowder and The Sea Glass Cafe for their Mushroom Gouda Soup

Best a La Carte”

1st – Carolina Bagel for their Macaroni and Cheese
2nd- Savage’s Woodfired Pizzeria for their selection of wood fired pizzas

Best Entree

1st- The Flame for their Beef Short Ribs with Plum Glaze
2nd- MJ’s Raw Bar who served Salmon Cakes with Aioli Sauce
3rd- 247 Craven for their Cider Braised Pork with Parmesan Grits

Best Dessert

1st- The Wild Cupcake for her large selection of gourmet mini-cupcakes
2nd- The Java Cream with ice cream and cake pops
3rd – Rebecca’s Gourmet Cafe for her Sweet Savannah’s Candy Coconut and Pecan Brittle

Thirteen new restaurants who participated in this year’s Taste!
Read this previous post for more information about this year’s Taste of Coastal Carolina:

Submitted by: Sherrie Starr, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation