Head Chef Richard Canestrari and Pastry Chef Ally Rogers serve up friendly smiles and unique specialties.
TWO CHEFS COOK IN TANDEM at Pour Richard’s, performing something like ballet in the kitchen—no words, just perfect choreography. After years of working side by side in narrowly configured kitchens, they have memorized each other’s movements.
“Steve Collier, my longtime chef, and I are like poetry in motion,” says head chef Richard Canestrari, smiling. He credits his culinary team for the restaurant’s blend of entertainment, efficiency and enticing entrees featuring fresh, local ingredients.
Pour Richard’s 4376 Bluffton Parkway Bluffton, SC 29910
Serving dinner Monday through Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations strongly recommended.
Twelve customers take front-row seats at the chef’s counter, and 48 more in the dining room can watch Canestrari and Collier pan sear, saute, braise, fry and plate. Their open kitchen—a show in itself—adds a bonding element to the Pour Richard’s dining experience.
Favored items on the dinner menu are the flounder and quail, but nightly specials with seasonal grouper, triggerfish, soft-shell crabs and local cobia vie for top choices. A prime beef special topped with “natural hollandaise”—a lightly fried egg, the yolk blending with a lemon beurre blanc—helped Canestrari and Collier take second place in the Iron Chef Challenge at the Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival last fall.
Featuring “Lowcountry ingredients with global flavors,” the entrees and small plates offerings change several times a year with the availability of seasonal ingredients.
“We’ll use as much fresh as possible, whatever may be available in a week in Beaufort or Jasper or somewhere else in the area,” Canestrari says. “If you want the best quality, it’s not all going to be in one place.”
Canestrari studied at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island and held diverse jobs—including a stint building submarines in Connecticut for five years—before becoming a full-time chef. But he knew he would open his own restaurant someday. As a child, he watched his parents and grandmother cook; when he was 6, he began making omelets and harvesting from the garden to pickle vegetables and fruits.
Sweet treats at Pour Richard’s are the handiwork of Canestrari’s partner and pastry chef, Ally Rogers. A native of Ridgeland and pastry arts graduate of Johnson and Wales in Charleston, Rogers creates her desserts from scratch. Favorites include her strawberry rhubarb creme brulee, chocolate almond chess pie and cinnamon roll bread.
Canestrari attributes the success of Pour Richard’s to his guiding philosophies of “honesty in menu and truth in menu” and “highest quality, local ingredients.”
“Yes, it costs more, but in the long run, our guests know quality food,” Canestrari says. “I don’t believe we should use imported seafood and other ingredients if we raise them here in South Carolina. I believe in our country.”
3 Idaho potatoes
1 sprig thyme
½ cup heavy cream
2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
3 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Peel and julienne potatoes using a mandolin or a sharp knife; keep potatoes submerged in water. Cut the julienned strands of potato into ¼-inch pieces (should be the size of a grain of rice). Just before cooking, drain the potatoes in a fine-mesh strainer and allow them to sit for five minutes to remove any excess water. In a medium saucepot, cook the potatoes in the cream and thyme over medium heat until al dente (about six to seven minutes), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat, and add cheese and butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste