The beach. The water.
Oh, those views of Vashon and Maury islands.
It’s magnificent to have another waterside restaurant again. I miss the Lobster Shop at Dash Point, which closed in 2014.
The sister Lobster Shop at Commencement Bay remains, but when the Dash Point dinner house closed, what went with it was 30 years of prom-night dining, anniversary celebrations, wedding-rehearsal dinners and other memories for the families that treated that restaurant as a special-occasion destination.
But new restaurants mean new memories.
Newly opened Gino’s at the Point is ripe for creating new memories.
The handsome two-story restaurant picks up where Lobster Shop at Dash Point left off in the fancy-dining department. The seafood-centric menu is deep, with a decent selection of steaks and chops, all kicked up with Peruvian and Mediterranean flair and a solid Northwest seasonal backbone. The restaurant opened April 5.
What I love most about Gino’s at the Point is that bounty of seafood on the menu. Despite our proximity to the water and penchant for seafood, we boast surprisingly few upscale-leaning seafood restaurants with water views in Tacoma.
Count Gino’s at the Point as a solid member of that small seafood-centric fraternity alongside the Lobster Shop, Duke’s Boathouse, Anthony’s at Point Defiance, Harbor Lights and WildFin American Grill.
Restoring the restaurant to its rightful place as a celebration destination is Gino Rivera, known widely across the King County line for Gino’s Bistro, which he opened more than 15 years ago. Last year, he flipped the concept to El Barrio, a Latin-themed restaurant and lounge. His other Gino’s Bistro operates in Maple Valley.
Opening Gino’s at the Point was a complicated undertaking. He opened half a year (ish) later than he expected, a consequence of unforeseen construction issues that only manifest after you start digging into the bones of an old, old building (as every owner of an old house knows).
Now that they’re open, it’s a family affair with a crew of Riveras doing everything from waiting tables to cooking to washing dishes and managing the restaurant.
In a restaurant family, everybody works.
The Rivera family is Gino and wife Kelly and their children, Keanu, Kiara, Max and Nyah.
Here’s a first-bite look at the new restaurant. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of a restaurant’s food and service in the first month.
The dining room: Downstairs, a bar is tucked into the back corner of a handsome room that looks like a rustic-modern version of a seaside Mediterranean restaurant. Wrought iron separates the bar from a dining area, with two- and four-seat tables positioned to enjoy the expansive water views. Exposed brick-and-concrete walls frame the back of the room. A polished concrete floor adds just a slightly casual feel.
The upstairs dining room feels a bit more intimate and cozy, with dining nooks and crannies and that same stunning view. A small room holds a table for eight with doors that slide closed for privacy.
The menu: Peruvian meets Mediterranean meets Northwest with lots of attention paid to seafood. Prices fall at the higher end of the restaurant market for Pierce County, with dinner entrees from $20 to $62.
Dinner: The restaurant serves happy hour and dinner only.
Appetizers: Eight dishes, with six of those seafood options — wicked prawns with housemade bread ($14), mussels ($14), baby clams with pancetta in a lemon-wine sauce ($15), calamari fritti ($14), coconut prawns ($15) and oven-roasted oysters ($12 to $22). Soup includes Dungeness crab chowder ($10 to $14) or roasted red pepper soup ($6 to $10), and salads include a Caesar ($6 to $14), spinach ($16) and two others ($9 to $16).
Chicken and veal: Chicken Marsala ($28), veal piccata and ($29) lamb saltimbocca ($29) all come with pea and spinach risotto.
Pasta: Roasted chicken with hazelnut cream sauce over pappardelle ($20), bolognese over tagliatelle ($20), tortellacci stuffed with butternut squash in an apple cider cream sauce ($21), casarecce pasta with Italian sausage ($20), beef-and-sausage lasagna ($20), pear-stuffed ravioli ($20) and pappardelle alfredo ($20).
Big on meat: Grilled Angus twin tenderloin with Yukon golds and vegetables ($42), slow-cooked lamb shank ($42), 8-ounce prime filet steak with a 10-ounce lobster tail ($65), bone-in 22-ounce ribeye steak with a mushroom ragu ($49).
Seafood: Ahi tuna with a ponzu sauce and jasmine rice ($34), paella with King crab, jumbo prawns, baby clams, mussels, calamari, halibut, chicken, Italian sausage and peas over risotto ($34), Chilean sea bass ($36), Dungeness crab ravioli ($34) and arroz alla valenciana with lobster, scallops, prawns, clams, mussels, calamari and chorizo over rice in a cream sauce ($36), scampi fresco over tagliatele ($30) and Alaskan halibut fish and chips ($24).
Dessert: Warm butter cake ($9), tiramisu ($9), cannoli ($9), creme brulee ($9), blackberry cobbler ($9), espresso cheesecake ($9), affogato ($8), gelatos ($7).
Cocktails: 13 specialty drinks listed, including four versions of an old fashioned ($14 to $17) and classics such as a pisco sour ($14), Manhattan ($15) and a mule ($14).
Wine: Two pages. Northwest bottles are the largest selection, with 36 bottles from Washington and Oregon, about 20 California wines and a few each of Italian, French and South American wines, priced $44 to $150 with a Captain’s list with a choice of 15 wines ($125 to $500). Five each of red and whites by-the-glass ($10 to $18). Draft and bottled beer also served.
Freebies: A server set down a half loaf of fresh-from-the-oven bread with a plate of olive and balsamic. Dip to your heart’s content. They’ll continue to fill your bread basket with warm bread so long as you have the stomach space for it.
Gluten free: Many items on the menu are marked with a gluten-free moniker for easy navigation
On a first visit: Ask for an extra basket of that dense, warm bread to soak up the saffron-spiked cream sauce and chorizo served with the sauteed mussels ($14). Vegetarians will love the bruschetta appetizer with a boost of garlic and balsamic glaze ($13).
Rivera is most proud of the entree from his native Peru — the lamb shank dish called seco ala nortena, which Rivera calls something of a Peruvian osso buco. That description fits. A slow-cooked lamb shank was served with a cilantro-spiked black beer sauce atop jasmine garlic rice, slow-cooked fava beans and salsa criolla ($42).
Arroz ala valenciana was like a Northwest seafood paella punched with Latin flavors ($36). Lobster, scallops, prawns, clams, mussels, calamari and chorizo were sunk deep into a bowl with spice-licked chorizo and creamy fennel saffron sauce. Again, ask for more bread for that silky fennel saffron sauce.
Big eaters should look at the bone-in ribeye, in a magnificent 22-ounce portion size, that arrived perfectly seared medium rare and topped with a tangle of mushroom ragu, a side of roasted potatoes and snappy green beans ($49).
I couldn’t get enough of the big, bouncy handmade tortellini, jumbo sized, and filled with creamy butternut squash in an apple cider cream sauce and goat cheese ($21).
Save room for cannoli ($9). It comes dipped in chocolate, coated in Almond Roca and filled with an airy channel of pastry cream.
Gino’s at the Point
Where: 6912 Soundview Drive NE, Tacoma.
Info: 253-242-7951 or ginosrestaurants.com
Hours: 3-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 3-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays