Joe DiMaio's Five Favorite Restaurants in the U.S.:
- Wild Olive - Johns Island, SC - "Italian Food is true comfort food for me. It's what I know. I live right around the corner from this restaurant, so it's like my neighborhood spot. I'll stop in just for entrees or take all my out-of-town guests there because it's a never-fail perfect experience from the wine service to, of course, the consistent food. Chef Jacques has definitely created an environment that is casual and collected."
- The Admiral - Asheville, NC - "This was the first meal I had as a still-young chef that let me know food can be fun and playful, with food concepts chasing after childhood cravings. Small plates and sharing are the norm here, which led me and my friends to try nearly everything on the eighteen-item menu. It didn't feel like the chef (Ivan Candido) was trying to play it safe at all, that was very refreshing. And it turns into a disco night club every weekend at midnight."
- nopa - San Francisco, CA - "Even with all the amazing restaurants in SF, I ate at nopa twice in one week. I didn't want to leave the city without trying everything on the menu. On the first occasion it was a late-night meal (nopa serves food until 1am) more about pastas, burgers, and their fresh-off-the-spit rotisserie chicken. On the second visit I only ordered vegetarian options, which was easy at nopa with all of the vegetable-driven dishes. Laurence Jossel has created some of the most simple and perfectly executed dishes I've ever seen, and those visits changed the way I approached food."
- Mark's Duck House - Falls Church, VA - "If you haven't had dim sum before and you're in or around the D.C. area you have to try Mark's. They still to this day have probably 50 people waiting for a table outside their restaurant for lunch! I've never seen a following like this before up close. They still push around a cart from table to table with multiple delicious goodies to try; some you take a chance on. They also offer a whole Peking duck which is butchered and assembled tableside. Go for brunch!"
- JB's Smoke Shack - Johns Island, SC - "There's only one choice at JB's and that's the buffet for around eight dollars. People around Johns Island don't go for the BBQ, they go for the fried chicken. JB likes to pressure fry his chicken and also slightly freezes it just before frying. This is true comfort food for me, and I hope you like country because I know it's always playing on the radio. Try the mac 'n cheese and the baked beans with all the homemade sauces you can try -- it's a true Johns Island experience."
Joe DiMaio is the Head Chef of Stars Rooftop and Grill Room in Charleston, SC. An expert in Carolina growing seasons and local sourcing, Joe helped start the "Carolina Cuisine" movement that's been taking the Southeast by storm.
For more tasty chef recommendations, check out "My Five Favorite Restaurants in the U.S".