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Downtown eatery takes #8220;Best Dish#8221; prize in contest

Ashley McKnight-Taylor

Pisces Restaurant, 115 N. Main St., earned the distinction for “Best Dish” at the Taste of Hampton Roads fundraiser March 29 at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside.

“We were thrilled,” said Pisces owner Margaret Gellas.

The annual event benefits the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and features tastes from more than 25 of the top restaurants in Hampton Roads, including, among others, Freemason Abbey, The Melting Pot and 456 Fish.

There were three categories: best decorated booth at the event, best presentation and best dish, Gellas said. They weren’t really interested in the first two, even though they did bring Elvis along, in keeping with the ‘70s theme for the event, she said.

Owner and chef Stephen Gellas entered his citrus shrimp because it did well at the United Way fundraiser Nosh on the Nansemond last fall, and it was something he could prepare quickly and easily at the event, rather than beforehand, Margaret said.

Stephen said the shrimp, which is finished with a tarragon vinegar, took about 10 tries with various flavors and sauteing techniques to get right.

“It has a nice, clean flavor,” he said.

Margaret said five judges sampled all the entries.

The Gellases “were pleasantly surprised” to earn the title, especially considering the other high-quality restaurants they were up against, Margaret said.

“The competition was pretty stiff.”

Stephen said the recognition is good reinforcement for him as a chef, but also shows that Suffolk has something equal to, if not better than, the eateries in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

The title earned the Gellases a framed poster from the event declaring Pisces’ citrus shrimp the “Best Dish.” They plan to hang it on the wall near the bar, along with the restaurant’s other accolades, including the recent appointment to one of the top 50 restaurants in the area by Hampton Roads magazine.

Patrons won’t find the award-winning fare on the regular menu, though, Margaret said. It is offered as special, usually on the weekends.

However, Stephen said that he is happy to prepare the dish for those who request it.