‘People are starting to have access to fish in their own backyard’

The Pioneer Seafoods boat docked at its new home in the Redwood City harbor. (Image via Pioneer Seafoods FB page)

“Ahoy mates, land ho.”

Thus began the Facebook post announcing that Pioneer Seafoods, a popular San Francisco-based fishing boat, will now be selling fresh, local seafood out of the Port of Redwood City.

Owner Giuseppe Pennisi made the move to Redwood City after losing his boat’s spot at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, where his fresh fish, sold directly off the boat, drew a loyal following.

Pennisi said he was left scrambling to find a new home for his commercial fishing boat and had been striking out at port after port while not earning any income. He was elated to find the opening at the Redwood City harbor, where he said management was incredibly welcoming and eager to make a partnership work. It’s also the only deep-water port in the South San Francisco Bay, meaning it can accommodate Pennisi’s 76-foot boat.

Angler enterprise, (clockwise from top left): Giuseppe Pennisi with crew member Joeleen Lambert Skinner showing off their latest catch; the Pioneer Seafoods boat docked at its former home on San Francisco Bay; freshly caught fish available for sale on Pennisi’s boat; Pioneer Seafood’s all new “rolling fish market” (a.k.a. food truck). (Images via Pioneer Seafoods FB page)

Pennisi also took out a $200,000 loan to purchase a food truck, which he’s calling a “rolling fish market and restaurant,” to serve fish and chips, clam chowder and other cooked fare to-go at the dock. People can expect to see a variety of fresh, local seafood, from rock fish and black cod to petrale sole, halibut and crabs when they’re in season. He joked the food truck should get a Michelin star distinction for the quality of the seafood, which will go straight from the boat into the truck to be served to customers.

He said he tries to keep prices affordable and family friendly: “I don’t want my fish prices so high that they can’t buy a bag of fish for their whole family.”

Pioneer Seafoods docked this past weekend at 459 Seaport Court in Redwood City and sold fresh halibut and sea bass off the boat. A Facebook post promised over 40 varieties of fish coming soon. Pennisi regularly engages with customers on Facebook, posting lengthy updates and photos from fishing expeditions as well as seafood recipes. Today, he said on Facebook that the food truck will be open from noon to 6 p.m. this week slinging fresh halibut fillets, fish and chips and fish tacos.

Giuseppe Pennisi with his son, Salvatore. Pennisi is a third-generation California fisherman, dating back to when his grandfather came to America from Italy. (Image via Pioneer Seafoods FB page)

Pennisi is a third-generation fisherman. His grandfather moved to California from Italy and started fishing in the Monterey Bay to support his family, according to the Pioneer Seafoods website. Today, Pennisi’s operation is one of the last federal fish trawlers in California, he said.

Pennisi’s ultimate goal is to educate people about the importance of buying local, sustainably caught seafood.

“People are starting to have access to fish in their own backyard,” he said.

Get the most recent updates on Pioneer Seafoods via their FaceBook page.

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Elena Kadvany

A writer with a passion for investigative reporting, telling untold stories and public-service journalism, I have built my career covering education and restaurants in the Bay Area. My blog and biweekly newsletter, Peninsula Foodist, is the go-to source for restaurant news in Silicon Valley. My work has been published in The Guardian, Eater, Bon Appetit’s Healthyish, SF Weekly and The Six Fifty.

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