Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Where the Chef's a Seafood Expert

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Where the Chef's a Seafood Expert

Article excerpt

A restaurant marketed as a seafood establishment should have a solid relationship with its seafood wholesaler. Alfred Ianniello, a longtime seafood distributor for many fine restaurants, has removed the middleman and recently opened his own restaurant in Hawthorne.

Brigantine Seafood is a 25-seat, full-service restaurant and oyster bar that specializes in classic dishes such as spaghetti with clam sauce, crab cakes, chowders, lobster bisque, a broiled seafood platter and traditional Guinness beer batter-dipped fish and chips with homemade coleslaw.

But Ianniello is not only knowledgeable about the best seafood and travels to the Fulton Fish Market himself each morning, as the restaurant's executive chef; he also has solid culinary credentials. For many years he was executive chef at the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack, and grew up in the family that owns Umberto's Clam House in New York City's Little Italy.

"I cooked from age 16 to 32, and then opened my seafood wholesale business," he says. "I'm a chef by trade, and now I'm back in the kitchen."

The restaurant's name is a reference to the brigantine -- a large, two-mast sailing vessel -- that Ianniello owns and sailed off the coast of San Diego for several years.

"I came back and forth to New Jersey a lot," he says, recalling how he was able to run his wholesale seafood business from both coasts.

Now back in New Jersey full time, Ianniello is especially proud of the painstaking attention to detail he invested in his new restaurant, both monetarily and in sweat equity. He spent several months gutting the interior of the former deli and investing in some notable details, including large stone tiles on the floor that he laid by hand.

"I have beautiful hickory butcher block tables that were made in Amish country," Ianniello says, noting that the same wood was used for the counter, where customers can watch their shellfish being freshly shucked. …

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