By Wendy White Philcox, Publisher
Located overlooking the glamorous Camachee Island Marina, just west of the Vilano Beach (Charles Usina) Bridge, every table at Kingfish Grill—both inside and out—features a view of the water. Only minutes from downtown St Augustine, Kingfish Grill offers the perfect setting to relax and enjoy drinks and dinner. Resembling a quaint European harbor ringed with tile-roofed residences, the marina is the home of a fleet of charter fishing boats and multimillion dollar yachts. Watching boaters come and go, along with every species of marsh bird and the occasional lolling manatee, is part of the experience at this colorful and casual seafood restaurant.
If Kingfish Grill reminds you a bit of both Italy and New England, then you will understand why the restaurant appealed to Mackey, who purchased the location in 2005. Mackey’s Italian heritage inspired him to become a restaurateur—a love for food and hospitality is part of his DNA! And, at the time he purchased the location—with its nautical, New England vernacular architecture and covered outdoor dining deck along the shoreline—Mackey was the owner of another waterfront restaurant in the heart of New England—The Carriage House in Rye, N.H. “There is a little sliver of coastline in New Hampshire, and Carriage House is right there front and center on Ocean Blvd,” says Mackey, who just sold that restaurant in February after owning it for 35 years. Taking the sting out of saying farewell was the outpouring of gratitude and warm wishes from longtime loyal customers and the promise of spending more time in the warm climate of St. Augustine.
Mackey credits his mother, who managed a country club and worked at an Italian bakery, and Sicilian grandmother for their influence—giving him the skills and sensibility that enabled him to create restaurants that appeal to diners, and, most importantly, bring them back. His grandmother tended her own garden and made her own pasta and bread. She shared her family recipes using fresh local ingredients, and his mother taught him to always listen to his customers to better meet their needs.
After extensive renovation of a location that had housed many restaurants previously but never with sustained success, Mackey unveiled The Kingfish Grill. Thirteen lucky years later, this winning concept has won the hearts of locals and visitors alike. The mark of a great restaurant is the perfect marriage of ambiance and menu, and that is where Kingfish Grill hits the mark. The colorful walls and decor have a coastal Florida vibe and the expanded bar, which wraps around a cozy stone fireplace at the entrance to the dining room, set the tone for relaxed dining and conversation. Along with the covered outdoor deck, picnic tables and adirondack chairs on the green lawn are just steps from the main dock for transient yachts. A full bar with premium selections, wines by the glass, draft and bottled beers and live music by local artists Thursday through Sunday complete the welcoming atmosphere.
Serving dinner nightly from 4 p.m. and lunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m., the menu features oysters, crab cakes, fried shrimp, chowders, salads, sushi rolls, fresh daily catch, seafood, steak, burgers, fajita wraps, fried fish, and pulled pork sandwiches. This family friendly restaurant also offers a children’s menu.
One of Kingfish Grill’s signature items—sushi rolls—depends on sourcing only the freshest seafood, and Executive Chef Austin Katoh is a demanding customer of his seafood purveyors. Chef Katoh grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., in a third-generation Japanese family, in which he was exposed to the exotic flavors of a Japanese kitchen. Like Mackey, Chef Katoh also learned basic techniques from his mother and grandmother and then went on to attend classes at the Sawyer School for the Culinary Arts. For the last 29 years, Chef Katoh has worked in authentic Japanese sushi restaurants form Pittsburgh to Hawaii to Texas and now Florida. After 16 years in The Sunshine State, Chef Katoh is tapped into the best possible local and regional sources for all of the ingredients he uses to prepare Kingfish Grill’s menu items and specials.
In addition to the restaurant, Kingfish Grill also has a banquet facility for weddings, meetings, and private parties. Located above the restaurant, the HarborView has its own entrance and features serene decor, stone fireplace, balconies overlooking the water and distinctive ambiance. Whether a cocktail reception or seated affair, from casual to gourmet, banquet staff will help plan every detail and design a customized menu.
With multicultural influences and more than 70 years of professional culinary experience between them, Mackey and Chef Katoh lead an amazing, dedicated team, all working together to create memorable dining experiences—fresh and flavorful in an incomparable atmosphere!
Located at the base of the Vilano Bridge, Kingfish Grill offers views of Camachee Island Marina and Intracoastal Waterway and serves dinner nightly from 4 p.m. and lunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m.
“WATCHING BOATERS COME AND GO, ALONG WITH EVERY SPECIES OF MARSH BIRD AND THE OCCASIONAL LOLLING MANATEE, IS PART OF THE EXPERIENCE AT THIS COLORFUL, CASUAL SEAFOOD RESTAURANT.”
“ONE OF KINGFISH GRILL'S SIGNATURE ITEMS—SUSHI ROLLS—DEPENDS ON SOURCING ONLY THE FRESHEST SEAFOOD, AND EXECUTIVE CHEF AUSTIN KATOH IS
A DEMANDING CUSTOMER OF HIS
252 Yacht Club Drive • Camachee Island Marina
(904) 824-2111 • kingfishgrill.com