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On The Waterfront to open Tuesday

Server Scarlett Martin holds a tray of lunch orders aloft at On The Waterfront’s soft opening yesterday. The restaurant will offer steak, seafood, an oyster bar and waterfront dining starting Tuesday. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

For years, local folks have speculated that a seafood restaurant could be a crowning jewel on the Washington waterfront.

As of next Tuesday, none need speculate any longer: On The Waterfront, a restaurant and oyster bar, will open its doors for lunch and dinner after a much-anticipated wait.

Tuesday, Susan Colomaio welcomed a crowd for a “trial run” lunch at the restaurant located at the end of Market Street. With Colomaio, Dustin Gaines (formerly manager of Winterville oyster bar Wimpies), Tommy and Francine Cooke and Billy and Valerie Dunn share ownership of the waterfront eatery.

“Washington has welcomed us with open arms,” Colomaio said as she thanked the public for being patient with the restaurant’s delayed opening. On the Waterfront had been slated to open in the spring.

Though Colomaio is from Kinston, and the Cookes, Dunns and Gaines are from Greenville, they chose Washington as the location for their new restaurant because of the waterfront.

“With the water — it was really perfect, this scene out here,” said Gaines, referring to the river view.

The restaurant, formerly Pirates Pub & Grill, has expanded and undergone a transformation, the new decor highlighted by touches of turquoise and natural stone for a look that is both “Old World” and subtly nautical. On the Water Street side of the building, a 40-foot granite bar, seating 30, dominates the oyster bar, its concrete floors creating a more industrial look.

For most of the year, On the Waterfront’s oysters will come straight from North Carolina waters, as will most of the other seafood served at the restaurant, Gaines explained. A desire to buy locally led the owners to bring on Washington Crab and Seafood Company as their supplier.

The restaurant will have lunch and dinner menus, with appetizers including “Redneck Rockefeller:” baked oysters on the half shell topped with fresh collards, applewood bacon and parmesan cheese and entrees like grilled Portobello mushrooms stuffed with mushroom risotto and topped with seared sea scallops. Dinner entrees are priced between $12 and $29, with the fresh catch of the day at market price.

In addition to a wide selection of wines, On The Waterfront will feature a full martini bar, Gaines said.

The oyster bar will be open from Tuesdays through Saturdays after 5 p.m.; the restaurant will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to “until,” according to Colomaio.