A plate of eggplant Parmesan, and spaghetti with sauce, is anything but what it looks like at Blacktip Island’s newest restaurant, Orzo It Seems. (photo courtesy of Famartin)
A Blacktip Island eatery this week converted its menu to meals, sides and beverages disguised as unrelated Italian dishes as a way to attract jaded island diners, restaurant owners said.
“Folks are tired of the same old burger-and-fries offerings,” Orzo It Seems owner and chef Bill Fisch said. “Our customer numbers had dropped, so we had to do something and, frankly, there was nothing to lose. There’s no Italian restaurants on the island, so we revamped our menu to fill that niche. Then, to make things interesting, we used alternative ingredients to make sure everything tastes completely different from what it looks like.
“We rebranded as ‘Orzo It Seems,’ and so far, it’s been a rousing success,” Fisch said. “The aim’s to attract diners by making food an adventure again. Order the linguine, you get noodle-looking squid strips. That yummy-looking gelato? It’s really frozen oxtail puree. Folks love it! And it’s fun watching their reactions.”
Diners praised the concept.
“The menu’s like a box of those fancy chocolates—there’s no telling what you’ll end up with,” Peachy Bottoms said. “I ordered the mushroom risotto, and got riced conch topped with sea grapes. Everything they serve is actual food—it’s not like they’re serving dirt or bugs or palm fronds. Oh, and you want to think twice before you order the ‘chocolate surprise.’”
Other customers weren’t so complimentary.
“My veal piccata was vegan cheese, coated with crunched-up Fruit Loops,” George Graysby said. “And the ‘capers’ were really green peppercorns. I spit that crap right out. Then, when I tried to wash the taste away with my Chianti, I got a mouthful of sour beet juice. That and the plate of food went back to the kitchen. Through the pass. As hard as I could throw ‘em. Last time I’ll go to that damn place.”
Island business leaders are cautiously optimistic.
“We’re getting all sorts of calls about Orzo It Seems, so it’s getting tons of off-island buzz,” Blacktip Island Chamber of Commerce president Led Waite said. “If it gets people to visit Blacktip, that means more business for resorts and dive ops and gift shops, and that benefits everybody. Personally, I wouldn’t put anything they serve in my mouth, not for money or on a dare, but if it boosts the island economy, I’m behind it 100 percent.”
Fisch admits Orzo It Seems is not for everyone.
“We cater to a certain customer, one who likes to play with their food,” he said. “It’s something different. Lord knows this little rock needs that. And bottom line, we’re not forcing anyone to eat here. You don’t like our peaches, don’t shake our tree.”