At its very core Montauk is a fishing town whose salty sailors and commercial docks define the menus of restaurants touting local, fresh seafood. Focusing on the simplicity of this centuries-long practice, Brian and Gillian Mooney opened their restaurant, Hooked, on May 1. The casual seafood eatery in Montauk, with a mantra of “pure and simple,” aims to highlight the local saltwater bounty in an approachable, affordable setting all year long. Community-driven and founded on decades of experience, the pair are eager to add to the local flavor of their home.
Both restaurant industry veterans, Hooked is the couple’s first business together. “Besides our children, this is our second venture together,” Gillian laughs. Her husband adds, “We both have a lot of experience. I worked at the Clam Bar on the Napeague stretch for 24 years and Gillian was part owner of Herb’s Market for more than 10 years. We both decided to go out on our own.”
Brian Mooney prides himself on having developed close knit relationships with local baymen and fishermen over the years, often getting fresh fish right off the boat. Mike Martinsen of Montauk Pearl Oysters is not only a vendor for Hooked, but someone the family has known professionally and personally for years — Brian Mooney and Martinsen are volunteers with the fire department and have children at the Montauk School. Martisen’s oysters and clams will star on the raw bar menu. Lobster on the Hooked menu will come from the popular lobster boat, The Misty Rose, with the goal of all seafood being purchased locally if possible. “Montauk is a fishing town but doesn’t have any place to go in a casual setting for local seafood,” BrianMooney says. “We wanted locals and summer visitors to be able to get fresh local seafood at a reasonable cost.”
Because of his experience working at one of Montauk’s most iconic seafood spots, the Clam Bar, people may recognize Mooney’s style of cooking at Hooked. Under the “baits and lures” side of the menu, diners can enjoy an assortment of homemade chowders, steamed mussels, and fried calamari. Various lobster dishes like a lobster salad roll, lobster stuffed tomato, mac and cheese, and whole steamed lobster are on the menu. Mooney notes that not all of the food will be fried. Grilled fish like tuna, swordfish, and Mahi Mahi will be available, along with raw and steamed shellfish, tuna poke bowls, salads, and more. For land lubbers, burgers, barbecue ribs, and a grilled chicken sandwich are other options. For dessert, try house-made tiramisu.
The space, formerly occupied by Red Hook Lobster Pound, is abound with laidback vibes. Gillian Mooney says there is no table service, rather orders are placed at the counter for takeout to be enjoyed onsite at one of many picnic tables on the patio, at the beach, or to take home. The open kitchen is accented by a beachy interior with warm reclaimed wood and nautical décor throughout.
Though the Mooney family are from Ireland originally, they have been full-time residents in Montauk for the last 25 years. “We are happy to be open as local, year-round people,” says Brian Mooney. “We are also happy to provide restaurant quality seafood at a reasonable cost. This year in Montauk alone two other places owned by local people have opened; M&R Deli and Montauk General Store. It’s nice that there’s this community and we support each other.”
Diners can also call ahead for their orders, and place larger orders for private parties of up to 20 people to be picked up. Prices range from $6 to $19 for starters and $10 to $25 for main dishes. Hooked will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and after Memorial Day until 8 p.m. The restaurant is located at 34 South Etna Avenue. Visit hookedmtk.com for more information.