Destin's latest catch: Fish On prepares to open 'beach casual' restaurant

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

The sign is up and the renovations inside are almost complete for Fish On seafood house set to open in the old Callahan’s Restaurant and Deli site located at 791 Harbor Blvd. in Destin. 

“We’re looking to open sometime in September,” said Billy Dee, who is opening the restaurant along with his partners, chef Giovanni Filippone and Jerry Zick. 

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

“Our goal is not fine dining, it’s fresh seafood affordable, so you’re not spending and arm and a leg,” Filippone said, noting he has a family as well. 

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

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

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"We’re going for a rustic, sort of an old Florida feel with the décor of the restaurant,” Dee said.  

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

The décor is going to be a lot different than the old Callahan’s. 

From the color of the floor to a big blue marlin being hung near the entry way, Fish On is taking shape. 

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

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

On the north end of the building, they will be putting in a glass-type garage door where people will have access to see and smell the food. 

“When it’s early winter and it’s nice outside, we’ll have the doors open,” Dee said. 

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

“We’ve known each other for about 20 years,” said Dee, who hails from Pittsburgh, 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 got lucky,” Filippone said.  

Fish On seafood house will be opening soon in the old Callahan's Restaurant and Deli site located at 791 Harbor Blvd. in Destin.

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

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

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

Dee and Filippone agree they will need to have something for sale that says “get your fish on.” 

Ordering at Fish On will be a bit different, Dee said. 

Customers will order at the window and pay at the counter, then they will receive a number and go sit down. 

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

“We’ll bring it to you,” Dee said. 

“One of the differences is we’ll have someone walking through the dining room if you want something like wine or beer. We’ll get that for you, so you don’t have to get back in line,” Dee said. 

“We’re going to follow up with service. We don’t want them to think it’s fast food. It’s great food, fast,” Dee said. 

Filippone, who has been on the American reality competition cooking show "Hell’s Kitchen" twice, is already working on his menu for Fish On. 

One specialty dish will be pistachio crusted grouper with pistachio cream sauce. 

“I’ve got a couple of other things in the works,” Filippone said. 

The menu for Fish On will be coming out shortly on Facebook. 

Once the restaurant is up and running, the hours will be Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., with the same menu all day. 

“Hope to see everybody here soon and looking forward to turning this part of Destin back around,” Dee said.