Restaurant offers expansive seafood menu, family atmosphere
by Staff Writer
by Cathy Swiney
Tony Dyshniku spent his morning in the kitchen of Lighthouse Seafood and More preparing marinated beef tips, macaroni and cheese, and banana pudding.
Those are just a few of the items that represent the “and more” at the Huntersville restaurant in Bayshore Plaza, formerly known as Captain’s Galley. Dyshniku and his uncle, Ilir Llanaj, bought the place in December and changed the name in early July.
Those who have eaten at Captain’s Galley will notice the wide range of seafood that still dominates the menu. What the pair have done is significantly increased the broiled seafood selections and introduced a Southern presence by adding home-style cooking along the likes of pot roast, country-style steak and chicken pot pie.
“I was skeptical at first and thought people really just wanted seafood,” Dyshniku said. “To my surprise, they are liking the country cooking.”
The move to diversify the menu at the family restaurant was made to appeal to all members of the family and not just those who like seafood. Pastas and grilled fare have joined lunch and dinner specials featuring comfort foods.
“After all, we are in the South,” he said.
A native of Albania, Dyshniku is a first-time restaurant owner, although he has a background working at seafood restaurants and has enjoyed continuing on that path with this new venture.
“With beef, you can only cook a few ways,” he said. “You have many options with seafood, and it is healthier. You can eat it every day, and you could never get bored with it.”
The restaurant is a family operation. In addition to his uncle, who previously owned a family restaurant in Winston-Salem, Dyshniku’s wife, Elona, is the cashier; his father, Jovan, preps food in the kitchen; and his cousin, Mitchell Lala, is the fryer. And there wouldn’t be home cooking if mom Natasha wasn’t sharing her recipes or baking desserts.
“We are trying to stay away from the corporate environment,” he said. “We are not a highway restaurant when you come in and I never see you again. We try to be family with customers and the people who work here.”
The pleasant interior, a spacious area divided into three sections of booths and tables, features the soft lighting of contemporary pendants suspended over tables. Nautical décor such as lighthouses, sailboats and anchors support the theme of the restaurant, as do colorful large seafaring murals on the wall.
Start the meal with an order of crab legs or fried oysters. Alternatively, opt for a garden or Greek salad, or soup such as clam chowder or oyster stew.
Entrees of broiled seafood platters are prepared with Cajun, garlic, blackened, lemon pepper or paprika-based house seasoning. Among the 14 selections are salmon, tuna steak, stuffed Canadian flounder, mahi, bacon-wrapped scallops and swordfish.
If your broiled seafood is accompanied by mango salsa, consider yourself lucky. The mixture, which consists of mango, onion, cucumber, lime and cilantro, isn’t on the menu but receives rave reviews when it appears.
Fried selections, coated with a breading made specifically for seafood, are equally wide-reaching and include catfish fillets, jumbo shrimp, beer-battered cod, clam strips and Alaskan white fish.
“The crab cakes, we just added to the menu, and they are taking off,” he said. “It is our own recipe, which I can’t share. We use lump crab meat – that’s what makes it a lot tastier.”
In addition to the country cooking, non-seafood entrees touch on grilled fare such as steaks, pork chops and chicken, which can be prepared blackened or seasoned with Cajun spices. Pasta dishes include spaghetti with meat sauce; alfredo with grilled chicken or jumbo shrimp; and Mediterranean Seafood Pasta with jumbo shrimp and deep sea scallops topped with homemade pink sauce. Or try Greek Spaghetti, which is made with a meat sauce with chopped tomatoes and oregano and topped with feta cheese.
Choice of side accompanies most entrees, and the listing yields a bounty from a garden – or two. There are a mind-boggling 28 options. Corn, fried okra, fried squash, sweet potato chips, pickled beets, coleslaw and broccoli are just the beginning.
End the meal on a high note with a dessert made by Dyshniku’s mother. In addition to tiramisu, she makes upside down apple pie with apples, walnuts and secret ingredients that she won’t even share with Dyshniku.