Grand Island restaurant top vote-getter in NFP's second annual competition
by Joshua Maloni
The Beach House has won Niagara Frontier Publications' second annual Best Fish Fry contest. Following a record number of entries, the Grand Island restaurant netted 13.1 percent of the 268 votes - more than double the tally of the second-place winners.
In reading the comments submitted in print and on www.wnypapers.com, it's easy to see why The Beach House is so popular. In fact, patrons didn't just nominate the restaurant, they outright sang its praises.
"The fish is moist inside and crisp outside. The salads are delicious. Serving is large," read one entry form.
"Fresh haddock," another voter wrote. "Been going there for 26 years. Never overcooked and the owner is in (the) kitchen cooking excellent fish."
A third balloter wrote, "Breading is perfect. ... Fish is delicious. Just a great meal. When our family comes in from Chicago, a fish dinner at The Beach House is a prerequisite for our grandson. Never have to decide where we'll eat when they arrive!"
Owner Mike Mongan said The Beach House takes great pride in providing excellent fish fry dinners.
"Two things I'll say: No. 1, I don't know that you can find anyone or any place that has more experience in fish frys than right here," he said, noting several staff members have been with him for more than a decade. "We just have a world of experience. I think that that's a big reason why we're good at what we do. And then, besides that, obviously we go to great lengths to make sure that the product that we have here is the best available product all the time for customers."
Several voters cited The Beach House's attention to detail.
"Always crispy and perfectly seasoned," one wrote.
Sam and Nina Tortorice, 40-year residents of Grand Island, included a full, handwritten note with their vote. Of the fish fry, they wrote, "It is always consistent quality and the service is so courteous and very friendly. Batter fish is so light, fresh and delicious. There is never a bone either."
"Our suppliers, sometimes they get upset with us because we're so fussy," Mongan said. "We just have a high standard for the quality of the product that we want our customers to get."
"Haddock is, without a doubt, the No. 1 item that we sell," he added. "We just buy the best haddock that we can week after week. And we're a 52-week-a-year fish fry establishment. We do it three out of seven days a week - Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - and my No. 1 supplier is Schneider Seafood. ... They work with us real close to make sure that we do get very, very good product. They know that we're going to be there for them 52 weeks a year. We're not just going to be there during Lent."
Mongan thanked his customers and all those that voted in the Best Fish Fry contest.
"I am flattered," he said. "It's a lot of hard work. I, personally, have been here a very long time. I've been here since 1984. It's just work hard at what we do; everybody here works hard. And I really appreciate the support and the recognition."
Almost 60 restaurants received at least one vote in the Best Fish Fry contest. The Beach House had 35 votes, and 14 eateries garnered five or more votes.
The Beach House is located at 5584 East River Road. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 716-773-7119.
Best Fish Fry Contest Voting Results
Winner: The Beach House, Grand Island (13.1 percent)
Second place (tie): Water Street Landing, Lewiston (6 percent)
Second place (tie): Leon's, Town of Niagara (6 percent)
Third place: The Village Inn, Grand Island (5 percent)
Fourth place (tie): Syros, Lewiston (4 percent)
Fourth place (tie): Town Café, Grand Island (4 percent)
Fifth place: Justin Tyme on the River, Niagara Falls (3 percent)