By Liesel Schmidt
June 29, 2022
ROSEMARY BEACH – Spanish for fish, Pescado is a name befitting of the restaurant whose location at the uppermost point of the Orleans building in Rosemary Beach affords sweeping views of the Gulf. Views that change with every hour of the day and every turn of the tide, with sunsets that keep it incredibly in demand. Featuring a menu of seasonally-driven featured dishes, small plates, and shareable entrees that pair with a wine list that also changes with the seasons. The underlying theme of this beautifully designed venue is to create food worthy of that view, food with spectacular flavor and presentation that showcases the Gulf. Whether guests choose to dine indoors or venture out onto the rooftop patio and bar area, that famously jewel-hued water is always in view, the fresh sea air like seasoning to every single bite in Pescado’s exquisitely created food.
Since opening in early spring of 2018, the menu created by Executive Chef Ken Duenas is respective of freshness in every aspect, from the house made sauces drizzled colorfully on the plates to the local seafood, freshly caught fish, and premium proteins used as the focal point of the dish. Each is a work of art, a carefully executed display of what results from focusing creativity, passion, talent, and technique together in cohesion.
A 30-plus-year veteran of the kitchen and former executive chef at Cafe Thirty-A, Marina Café, and Destin Chops, Duenas is a self-taught chef, building a career from a passion that was instilled in him by his grandmother in Guam. Along with partners Joseph Freer, John Freer, Greg Wakeham, and Steven Sapp, Duenas is part of the Last Call Restaurant Group, a partnership that has proven quite successful in creating a concept that will not only bring people in, but also bring them back. “We’re booked out six months in advance,” said Duenas. “People love to come here because of the view, the food, and the drinks.”
The perfect blend of farm-to-table and tide-to-table, there is a dedication to using the best, most fresh ingredients available in season. Guest favorites include Steak Tartare, Filet Mignon, the Seafood Salad, and the Cantonese Whole Lobster. Interestingly, the menu wanders the globe, taking inspiration from France, the Mediterranean, Asia, and – of course – Duenas’s childhood in Guam. In each of his dishes, Duenas takes particular pride that he is creating an experience for his guests. “I love making people happy as they’re having a meal,” he said. “When you walk outside and someone pulls you over to tell you that they’ve just had one of the best meals of their lives, that’s really satisfying. Hearing that from them, it’s better than any kind of fame.”
Still, fame is lavished on the dishes created at Pescado, as well as the drinks created by their mixologists. Served up with a twist of creativity, each drink shows that the minds behind the mixing know their flavor profiles as well as what makes the perfect sip. “We have an incredible team here that makes amazing drinks,” noted Duenas.
A restaurant that certainly achieves the vision of what Duenas and his partners had in mind when they opened, Pescado is “casual fine dining that has the best views in the area, with food, drinks, and service to match.”
Pescado Seafood Grill & Rooftop Bar is located at 74 Town Hall Road, Suite 4B, Rosemary Beach. The restaurant is open Monday to Tuesday 4 to 10 p.m.; Wednesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 9:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations accepted. For more information, call 850-213-4600 or visit www.rooftop30a.com.