Local Flavors: Know the source of your seafood

When you go to farmers markets, you’re often buying food from the person that produced it. What about when you buy fish?

Well, Mark and Bonnie Tognazzini are applying that same concept to their Dockside Too Fish Market, which is also a casual restaurant serving everything from fish and chips to burgers.

When they opened the fish market in May as a companion business to their Dockside Restaurant next door, the Tognazzinis took the unusual step of labeling all the local fish with the name of the person who caught it, and often which boat it came from as well.

"It works out really well here to make that connection," explains Mark. "We source from about 20 to 30 local fishers, and the quality really comes from the guy who caught the fish. We believe in the industry, and we think the fisherman should get a good price for his fish and the consumer should be able to get quality fish for a good price."

Quality is important to the Tognazzinis, both longtime fixtures in the local fishing industry.

They are enthusiastic about educating the public about fish, "and education comes once you can have a dialogue with people," says Mark.

Bonnie agrees: "We make sure the staff here takes time to answer questions and tell the real story." Because fishing is an industry subject to many factors, not the least of which is weather, part of that story may be that there just isn’t a certain fish available on a certain day, and so be it.

"Sometimes we don’t have something," admits Mark, "but I’d rather have the quality there, and when most people come in shopping for dinner, they understand that. If we don’t have one thing, we can usually find them another fish that will work just fine."

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. If you have a favorite "Local Flavor" you’d like to see featured, e-mail your suggestions to