Dishing It Up Front, ZEST

  • Tuesday, July 23, 2013

By Ashley DesMarteau

Wet paint signs, the wail of a saw in the background, and windows partially covered with paper concealing the buzz of activity going on inside. Like a Christmas gift sitting under the tree with one of the flaps giving way, it was just too much temptation and I just had to poke my head in and see what was going on.

About the last thing they needed was me popping in and asking the million dollar question, “Well for heaven’s sake, when are y’all opening?” Having lived through several home renovations, I had forgotten that when tools are scattered every which way and there are more power cords slithering around in sawdust than snakes in an Indiana Jones movie, that people right in the middle of it don’t really want to be asked about their progress. Or lack of it.

With a sheepish grin, owner Peter Scalise, warmly smiled (I think he’s heard this one before) and offered that they had been planning on May 15, but that they’ve had a few “challenges” and were optimistic about opening soon. It can be a labor of love when you jump into restoring a property that is older than you are and is so steeped in history, especially when everyone has an opinion about it, not to mention nosy strangers popping in without invitation. But dockside on Front Street is a killer location and worth any headaches that come along from renovating a building that is circa 1885.

Owners Peter Scalise, Jordan Salton and John Cranston have been busy and now they’re ready for business. Zest has a gorgeous renovation to show off, a three-season semi-enclosed bar, an upstairs sushi bar and a menu showcasing local seafood and produce. Salton calls the vegetables from Lee’s Farm “some of the best around” and fresh and organic is key to their menu. Salton said a goal is to “make a full effort to support local vendors.” Zest strives to showcase local ingredients and Salton says their menu is “coast to coast-from pizza to sushi.”

My first experience with sushi was shortly after moving to California. Being the true Southern girl that I am, my first reaction to it was to turn my nose up and proclaim that “where I’m from, we call this bait.” Thankfully my palate became more adventurous and after I took my first bite of tuna sashimi I was hooked, pardon the pun. So a waterside sushi bar using locally sourced fish with specialty wraps created to order — what could be better? Maybe an upstairs deck that reaches out over the water, offering a bird’s eye view of the Harborwalk and boats sailing by on the Sampit. I can see many an evening spent enjoying the view, ordering from the menu the owners call “diverse” and ordering another round from the great selection of craft brews.

And the food love does not stop at seafood … pizza anyone? You don’t often find pizza and sushi in the same spot, but just think of all the family squabbles this will solve? Everyone will be happy as a clam, or well, pepperoni. Build your own pizza or choose from one of the specialty pizzas like the Tuscan, the Hawaiian or, wait for it, BBQ Chicken Pizza.

Gorgeous and open for business, the newest taste of Georgetown, Zest at 719 Front Street.  Open 11 a.m.-midnight, every day y’all! Make it your business to keep it local.

Ashley DesMarteau grew up at Pawleys Island. After living on the West Coast, she and her family returned to coastal South Carolina on a three-year sailing voyage. She will be writing about happenings Up Front Street and around Georgetown.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

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