Cape Fear Foodie: New Pizza, New Sandwiches, & Hot Dog Update

Cugino Forno's wood fired Neopolitan-style pizza is perfect for the summer.
Cugino Forno's wood fired Neopolitan-style pizza is perfect for the summer.(WECT)
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 10:38 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - With Independence Day in the rearview mirror, we’re heading into those “dogs days” of summer where the heat and humidity occasionally give way to an epic thunderstorm, and each day seems like the one before. But one way to break up the monotony is to get out and enjoy some of the tried-and-true restaurants around the area, or explore some newcomers to the food scene. Admittedly today’s post is a bit of some odds and ends from some eats I’ve had, plus an update on the “Hot Dog Road Trip.”

But for now, let’s check out some spots that have recently opened around the Port City, starting with a popular new pizza joint...

Cugino Forno

The Neopolitan-style pizzeria is the latest addition to the growing Soda Pop District, and is perfectly placed next to Hi-Wire Brewing. It’s the fifth location for the North Carolina-based restaurant, and since opening in late spring has been a hit with pizza lovers.

I met a friend of mine who absolutely loves the pizza from the Winston-Salem location, and she insisted we order the “Funghi” (nice choice, Caroline). As you can imagine it came with plenty of juicy mushrooms, a healthy dose of cipolini onions, bufala mozzarella (made with milk of a water buffalo and a favorite of mozz fans) and white truffle oil. The wood fired pizza crust was spot on (ask them to make it crispier if that’s your pleasure) and the ingredients were fresh and tasty.

A close-up of Cugino Forno's wood fired creation is complete with Cipolini Onions, Mushrooms,...
A close-up of Cugino Forno's wood fired creation is complete with Cipolini Onions, Mushrooms, Bufala Mozzarella, and White Truffle Oil.(WECT)

If a mushroom and onion heavy pizza isn’t your flavor, Cugino Forno has a number of different specialty pizzas, from the “Porziano,” with roasted ham, mushrooms, and artichokes to the “Calabrese” with spicy salami and calabrian peppers. Of course there are plenty of pizza places to spend your money, but few are located directly next to a brewery, which is a major plus. However, make no mistake, the food here speaks for itself and is well worth a try.

Next up is a new sandwich and beer stop housed within the same confines of a favorite old deli in the Brooklyn Arts District...

The Half

Located on Red Cross Street where the Detour Deli used to be, The Half boasts a number of different sandwiches, from a “Caprese” to the “The Benji,” a vegan-take on a classic Reuben sandwich. Each one comes on freshly baked bread with quality toppings and inventive flavor combinations. I went with the “Mixto,” based on a friend’s previous recommendation. This sandwich was all that and...well...a bag of chips. A cross between an Italian and a Cuban, it was packed with roast beef, ham, salami, fresh slices of mozzarella, an olive salad, roasted tomato, onion, and a housemade mustard sauce. The olive salad/tapenade and the sauce put the sandwich over-the-top. I could have easily saved half for dinner but couldn’t put it down. I also tried a side of potato salad and the cucumber and tomato salad, both were well made and quickly inhaled.

A hybrid Italian and Cuban sandwich, a fresh loaf of Ciabatta bread creates the perfect...
A hybrid Italian and Cuban sandwich, a fresh loaf of Ciabatta bread creates the perfect platform for roast beef, ham, salami, fresh mozzarella slices, olive salad, roasted tomato, onions and a housemade mustard sauce.(WECT)

The Half also has a selection of well-curated craft beers, with a quaint beer garden space to enjoy your food and a brew. They also feature local artists and display their creations, a cool nod to the BAD. It’s a welcome addition to town and fits in perfectly with the neighborhood’s vibe.

Finally, let’s get an update on the extremely popular “Hot Dog Road Trip.” No single article within Cape Fear Foodie went over as well as my admittedly short review on a handful of hot dog restaurants. I promised a second edition, and given the incredible reader feedback (dozens of emails with tips and suggestions) I think we may even have a third and fourth edition this summer. I have already visited a few places, and will get around to some more this weekend. So look for a new post very soon. Thank you all for reaching out to me about your favorite hot dogs. I can tell it’s a passion point for many of you!


Cugino Forno is located at 1020 Princess St, Wilmington, NC 28401

The Half is located at 510 1/2 Red Cross St, Wilmington, NC 28401

Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!

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