Washington and Hancock is a Middletown corner I’ve passed by for the past 17 years without an urge for exploration. Now I’m basically your average Mission Hills Golden Retriever with a Pavlovian response as I drive by Fishmonger’s Market due to the imprinted delectable bites of crudo, PLT, and Lobster Mac & Cheese Gratin I can’t deny the craving for. I refuse to stand alone in this craving insanity, so my next words are intended to gather others to normalize this obsession.
Building upon his years of boots on deck, he’s now docked a ship where he can lead as captain. Executive Chef Frankie Terzoli, a San Diego native, is creatively plating his family history and passion for sustainability at Fishmonger’s Market. He’s determined to remind locals and visitors that this town’s brand is built on more than just a beer-battered, previously frozen fish taco. San Diego’s rich tuna fishing culture runs through his veins and comes alive with every story and dish he presents to you in his new European style restaurant.
As fishmonger turned chef, Frankie “The Bull” Terzoli’s celebrity was built early on through Food Network’s shows like Top Chef and a victorious finish on Cutthroat Kitchen. He acknowledges those moments are only frosting for the ego. His focus is on community with a mission steadfast on changing the seafood industry. Chef Frankie is not a man of few words, and his words are lining up to educate consumers on the significance of their buying power.
Fresh out of college I found myself being grilled by my boss upon training, “Do you eat fish?” At the time, my palate for the sea was mature enough to barely stomach straight-out-of-the-freezer nuked Gorton’s fish sticks, plated with a mound of Ketchup. The serious tone in his voice followed with, “You better get used to eating fish. We travel, and your job is to find the best sushi and seafood restaurants for hosting clients.” Um, no pressure at all at the green age of 22. I realize now that my young adult fear prepared an appreciation for the quality crafted at Fishmonger’s Market.
When Chef Frankie described his blood orange tuna crudo dusted in chocolate, automatically I heard Rob Schneider in my head saying, “Oh, yes. They make a terrific pair. They go together like lamb and tuna fish.” In that adventurous bite, Chef Frankie became a modern-day Willy Wonka with a fishmonger upbringing. The crudo’s delicacy begins with a hint of cocoa, a citrus burst and finishes with a pleasing spice lingering at the back of the tongue. The uniqueness awoke my matured inner child who both loves sushi and crushes on a handful of chocolate covered gummi bears.
Light bites of crudo perfectly introduced the next extraordinary plates and defined a new life moto. Don’t eat burgers, eat the Fishmonger’s PLT sandwich. The soft brioche roll functions perfectly to deliver the incredible combination of seared ahi tuna, pancetta, butter lettuce, and heirloom tomato in a handheld bite. The sandwich is dished up with a hardy serving of thick cut golden steak fries, so please don’t skip out and ask for a side salad. Instead, I highly recommend taking it to the next level and dive into a perfect pot of Lobster Mac & Cheese Gratin. Accept the glutinous glory, lick the plate, this is what good living is all about.
Chef Frankie, thank you for your pursuit to redefine and represent the authentic seafood culture San Diego deserves!
– Howie G.