Tacoma’s newest waterfront restaurant is about to open.
Gino’s at the Point has been under construction for more than a year, and, if all goes as planned, it will open at Dash Point within the next week.
The upscale restaurant will be in the long-vacant and space that hosted the beloved Lobster Shop at Dash Point from 1977 to 2014 (the sister Lobster Shop restaurant on Ruston still operates).
Northeast Tacoma diners have asked for years if anything would ever take over that prime real estate.
Enter Gino Rivera, a longtime chef and restaurant operator just over the King County line. He and his family run El Barrio in Federal Way and Gino’s Bistro in Maple Valley. Originally, he opened Gino’s Bistro about 15 years ago in Federal Way before flipping the concept to El Barrio, which carries a Latin-theme.
When Rivera was looking to expand to another restaurant, he fell in love with the bones of the Lobster Shop building and its position in relation to the water and nearby state park.
He originally hoped to open his new Gino’s in 2018, but redrawing the architectural plans and other significant construction problems that inevitably pop up in old buildings pushed the opening several months.
Rivera and his family — wife Kelly, son Max and daughters Kiara and Nyah — all work at the family’s restaurants. Max is a manager, Kelly is the menu guru, Kiara is a server and Nyah buses tables.
My first question — the former Lobster Shop carried such a tremendous sense-of-place in its dining room — will that wonderful view of the water and nearby islands still be on display?
“You can see the view a little better from up there,” said Rivera about the upstairs dining room.
He explained that a second bathroom upstairs was eliminated to reposition the seating and upstairs dining space, which he says will give more diners a prime view of the this-is-why-we-live-here views.
Downstairs, he said, the views are just as stunning as ever.
“We’re just excited. It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “My wife Kelly and I had a vision of what we want our restaurant to be. I like to sit in any of the the seats of my restaurant, and there is not a place that I sit that I don’t like the view.”
“I can’t wait to have diners in here to see this,” Rivera added.
He said diners will be surprised by the interior makeover.
“I can’t wait to take the paper off the glass (covering the windows). It kills me to not take them off, but I don’t want people to see in here until it’s ready to open,” he said.
When the restaurant opens, it’ll be for dinner service daily. Rivera has plans for seasonal lunch service, probably only during the warmer months, and intends to add Sunday brunch service in the near future.
Expect the restaurant to be similar to Rivera’s original Gino’s Bistro but with more of an upscale feel. He describes a supper house with a menu that takes a dive into “Mediterranean with Spanish flair.” The menu will include steak-and-chops selections, seafood and classic and specialty cocktails.
He plans to change that menu seasonally with a focus on Northwest ingredients as a sub-specialty.
Rivera, who grew up in Peru, said his diners often ask him to cook Peruvian family recipes, and he intends to rotate those dishes, such as ceviche and Peruvian-style paella, though the specials menu.
He also described a favorite Peruvian dish he is working on that will wind up on the menu — seco ala norteña. He called the slow-cooked shank dish a crowd pleaser.
“It’s sort of like osso bucco,” said Rivera, noting that the long braise intensifies the dish that carries a cilantro sauce. He’ll serve that with rice and beans and a fresh salsa.
Diners should expect entree pricing from $20 to $40 and an upscale, but not fussy, atmosphere, Rivera said.
Gino’s at the Point
Where: 6912 Soundview Dr. NE, Tacoma.