New and improved eateries for Geiger Key, Stock Island
BY MANDY MILES
Local restaurateurs Bobby and Michelle Mongelli are adding a new, old-style feel to the Geiger Key Smokehouse, while also preparing to open a pizzeria and Italian restaurant on Stock Island.
The waterfront restaurant and marina on Geiger Key soon will be renamed The Fish Camp at Geiger Key, and will feature an expanded menu designed by New Orleans chef David Liuzza.
“The ideas he’s brought to our seafood selections work perfectly in this place because they’re great and simple,” said Michelle Mongelli, while sitting at an outdoor table over looking the clear water and mangrove islands that surround the popular restaurant.
Roasted oysters are Luizza’a specialty; cooked on the grill with butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese. He’ll also add shrimp and crawfish etouffe, oysters casino and oysters Rockefeller.
“I’ll also feature local Key West fish with a little Cajun flair thrown in,” Luizza said, explaining the new addition of grouper cheeks, which are medallions of grouper meat from the cheeks of the fish.
“Everyone’s always thrown out the heads of the fish, but these little medallions from the cheeks are perfect,” Bobby Mongelli said, popping a fried one into his mouth.
While adding new items to the menu, Mongelli is keeping the tried-and-true local favorites.
The Sunday barbecue will continue, but will feature local fish in addition to the pork. Mongelli also plans to do a weekly pig roast and steak night, with live entertainment on the weekends and daily happy hours with half-price drinks.
And the prices will remain affordable for everyone, he said.
“We want to get the locals back here,” he said.
The restaurant had been leased out for the past few months, but the Mongellis took it back last week, and are hoping the locals will return – and bring their friends.
The property still features a marina with fuel pumps as well as short-term slips for diners and drinkers arriving by boat. Mongelli is also building a new tiki hut, from which George and Carla Bellenger will rent stand-up paddleboards and launch their Downwind Kayak Eco-Tours.
Meanwhile, a few miles south of Geiger Key, the Mongellis are readying their new pizzeria, Roostica, slated to open this fall.
Roostica, a play on the Italian word “rustica,” that describes a natural simplicity, and a tribute to the local Stock Island roosters.
The 150-seat restaurant will feature wood-fired, thin-crust pizzas, along with risotto bites, salads, antipasta and baked Italian dinners.
They’ll feature a $9 lunch special, with a personal pizza, salad and drink, along with wine and cheese tastings and other events, Michelle Mongelli said.
Roostica is next door to the longtime Dolphin Deli on Maloney Avenue.
“Stock Island is really taking off,” said Mongelli, who also owns the popular Hogfish Bar and Grill on Stock Island’s Front Street. “As Key West’s downtown area deteriorates, locals are looking to eat closer to home; somewhere affordable where they can park easily.
While Stock Island will have to wait until September or October for its pizzeria, the revamped Fish Camp at Geiger Key will have its new menu in place and perfected by July 1.