Fish On seafood restaurant set to open in Destin, Florida

The sign is up and interior renovations are nearing completion for the Fish On seafood house set to open in Callahan’s former restaurant and deli site at 791 Harbor Blvd. in Destin.

“We are looking at opening in September,” said Billy Dee, who is opening the restaurant with his partners Chef Giovanni Filippone and Jerry Zick.

“We want to make an affordable seafood restaurant for families, that’s our goal,” Filippone said.

Giovanni Filippone and Billy Dee are the faces behind Destin's newest restaurant, seafood house Fish On.  The restaurant is slated to open soon in the former Callahan's Restaurant and Deli site located at 791 Harbor Blvd.  in Destin.

“Our focus isn’t fine dining, it’s affordable fresh seafood, so you’re not spending an arm and a leg,” Filippone said, noting he also has a family.

Dee explained that the restaurant will be “beach casual” with “friendly service and fresh seafood cooked to order.”

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“We’re going for a rustic vibe, kind of old Florida with the restaurant decor,” Dee said.

“We want it to be a fish house and to be family friendly,” he said.

The setting is going to be very different from the old Callahan.

From the color of the floor to a big blue marlin hanging near the entrance, Fish On takes shape.

Southern Value Engineering's Jim LeBlanc hangs a mount of blue marlin in the dining room of the new Fish On seafood house, set to open in the former Callahan's Restaurant and Deli site at 791 Harbor Blvd.  in Destin.

“We want to keep some things familiar but at the same time give it a facelift,” Dee said.

At the north end of the building, they will install a glass garage door where people will have access to see and smell the food.

“When it’s the start of winter and it’s sunny outside, we’ll have the doors open,” Dee said.

This isn’t the first restaurant venture for Dee and Filippone. Together, the two run Mama Clemenza’s in Miramar Beach, which serves a range of European dishes for breakfast.

“We’ve known each other for about 20 years,” said Dee, a Pittsburgh native, while Filippone is from New Jersey.

The two opened Mama Clemenza’s in 2019.

But when Callahan’s location became available, the guys jumped on it.

“We were lucky,” Filippone said.

Fish On Seafood House will soon open in the former Callahan's Restaurant and Deli site at 791 Harbor Blvd.  in Destin.

As for the name, Fish On, it came about as quickly as the decision to secure the property.

“We were throwing things like ‘Go Fish’ and then Jerry said, ‘Fish On’ and we all looked at each other and said, ‘That’s it,'” Dee said.

“You walk up to order at the counter, and it’s a fresh order, it’s fish every time,” he said.

Dee and Filippone agree that they will need to have something to sell that says “put your fish in”.

Ordering from Fish On will be a little different, Dee said.

Customers will order at the counter and pay at the counter, then they will be given a number and taken to a seat.

The décor of the new Fish On restaurant will have a rustic feel, in keeping with the traditional fish houses of vintage Destin.

“We’ll bring it to you,” Dee said.

“One of the differences is that we will have someone walking around the dining room if you want something like wine or beer. We’ll get it to you, so you don’t have to go back online,” Dee said.

“We will follow up with the service. We don’t want them thinking it’s fast food. It’s good food, fast,” Dee said.

Filippone, who has twice appeared on the American reality show “Hell’s Kitchen”, is already working on her menu for Fish On.

A specialty dish will be the pistachio crusted grouper with a pistachio cream sauce.

“I have a few other things going on,” Filippone said.

The Fish On menu will be released shortly on Facebook.

Once the restaurant is operational, the hours will be Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the same menu all day.

“Hope to see everyone here soon and can’t wait to get this part of Destin back together,” Dee said.

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