OFF THE HOOK SEAFOOD & CHOPHOUSE
Ringing in the New Year with a new location in Norfolk
by Candance Moore
Chesapeake’s famed Off The Hook Seafood and Chophouse has been winning awards and delighting the discerning diner with consistent excellence for four years and counting. After innumerable customer requests for a second location, the restaurant is excited to announce its opening on Colley Avenue, in the heart of Ghent. The expansion brings a few changes that improve the experience even more, while many familiar favorites keep the restaurant loyal to its roots.
At the helm of the Norfolk location are Jennifer and Derrick Carpinelli—the visionary owners responsible for making the Great Bridge location one of the hottest seafood restaurants in Hampton Roads.
“The great thing about being an independent family business is that we can respond to requests and opportunities quickly,” Jennifer points out. “We adapt, we grow, we bring in new elements for comfort and convenience, based solely on what we think is best for our patrons. It requires a lot of listening, but we’re in this to excel.”
The couple’s desire to excel sparked an idea in 2014 that would quickly turn into a phenom. It began with seafood — the freshest catches from local shores delivered directly to Chesapeake. Imaginative culinary professionals created amazingly unique dishes and daily specials, thoughtfully paired with specialty drinks created by highly-skilled mixologists, and served by a friendly, attentive wait staff.
Chef Gellas and Chef Mary Prader are always on the hunt for the next great dish, give their chefs immense creative liberty. The resulting menu offerings delivered flavor explosions that wowed even hard-to-impress visitors. Five-star Yelp and Google reviews poured in by the hundreds.
A few steaks initially graced the menu so that guests who didn’t eat fish would have options. But instead of treating these steak offerings as an afterthought, Off The Hook’s culinary artists gave them equal attention, taking the time to handcut all steaks in house.Succulent beef dishes, exquisitely seasoned, were on par the seafood, Off The Hook soon found itself being hailed as the local go-to place for a perfect steak. The menu evolved to incorporate more mouth-watering chophouse offerings.
When word got out that a second location was coming to Norfolk, experienced food professionals were eager to join the creative team. Off The Hook’s reputation allows it to recruit top-notch culinary and service experts who energize the restaurant with fresh ideas. As the business continues to grow, Jennifer and Derrick say they’re always on the lookout for new talent.
“We want to stay true to the essence of our food, but that doesn’t mean resting on our laurels,” Derrick notes. “It’s a balancing act to continually improve while staying true to what made us a success: wanting every guest to have a perfect bite they can’t get anywhere else.”
“We adapt, we grow,
we bring in new elements
for comfort and convenience,
based solely on what we think
is best for our patrons.”
Excitement about the new location reached all the way to Norfolk City Hall, where officials lauded the arrival of just the sort of business they wanted to attract to Ghent. Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron, City Treasurer Daun Hester and State Senator Lionell Spruill were among Off The Hook’s earliest Norfolk fans. Neighboring established restaurants — some of the biggest names in Norfolk dining — embraced this hard-working couple who felt humbled by so much support.
They moved into the old Azar’s location at the corner of Colley and 20th Street. Central Contracting stripped the building down to its foundation to make way for a sleek, modern makeover. Virginia Beach’s JJS Studio Interior Design created an original look that gives homage to Off The Hook’s familiar ambiance in a fresh way.
After months of rigorous training to ensure high-level teamwork, the Norfolk location celebrated its Grand Opening in early January.
“The wait is over! We’re open!” Jennifer says with a laugh of relief.
Two chefs from the Chesapeake location oversee the Norfolk kitchen to ensure consistency. Diners who have long been familiar with Off The Hook in Great Bridge will find the same outstanding food served in the refreshing ambiance of the new Norfolk location.
On a weekday afternoon, amid the bustle of Colley Avenue, Off The Hook opens for dinner. Early birds can take advantage of private parking, but it goes fast as the in-demand eatery fills with hungry visitors. Valet service offers to handle parking for later arrivals. Reservations can be made online through the restaurant’s website or through Yelp.
A friendly host with a sunny disposition warmly welcomes each guest. To the right is a gleaming bar--a mixologist’s dream, stocked with the finest liquors. To the left, the clean lines and cool color pallet of the well-appointed dining room beckon. A fireplace on the outer wall adds a cozy touch and also doubles as a source of heat for the semi-enclosed lit patio. There’s a separate dining room for private parties. However, what instantly catches one’s upon entering is a massive wine wall, boasting more than 1400 bottles.
But it is Off The Hook’s menu that reels in patrons. Seafood, so fresh that it tastes like a day at the beach, is prepared and served in a variety of tempting flavors and styles. Not craving a day at the beach? Perhaps a steak, pork chop, or tender marinated chicken breast hits the spot. Servers with an eye for pairings offer drink recommendations: a dark, frothy drink from a local brewery, or maybe a vintage cocktail.
Dishes arrive looking like art on a plate, inspiring Instagram posts on a routine basis. Of course, they are served with hush puppies—those puffy little balls of fried bread heaven which helped make Off The Hook the legendary place that it is. As satisfying as the appetizers and main courses may be, guests are encouraged to save room for equally amazing original desserts, finished off with coffee, wine or an after-dinner cocktail.
“We spent years earning the respect of our patrons in Chesapeake, and we’re determined to do the same in Norfolk,” Derrick declares with an enthusiastic smile. “We’re here to make the most of this.”
Off The Hook
500 Battlefield Blvd. S.
Chesapeake, VA 23322
200 Colley Avenue