Pier 22, under the direction of Executive Chef Greg Campbell, offers an extensive number of dining options to the community and visitors to our city. With food that’s only rivaled by the beauty of its unique location, Pier 22 is the ideal place to enjoy lunch, dinner, weekend breakfast, brunch, sushi, cocktails, or attend a banquet event. There are also several locations within the property where you can enjoy your meal, including the Waterside Terrace, the Dockside Lounge, the Sunset Room, the Fire Pit, the Aquarium Room, and the Grand Ballroom. Each area offers an individual character.
Let’s run down their menu. If you’re here for lunch, you’ll find a good number of smaller plates and lighter options that can accommodate different tastes. Asian Lettuce Wraps, Crab Cakes, or Braised Ribs can be a nice start to your meal or a meal in itself. The Braised Ribs are a favorite of mine. These tender ribs are served with a molasses-coffee sauce and fresh slaw. The lunch menu also includes flatbreads, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and a few seafood favorites such as a Fresh Catch of the Day and Grouper Piccata.
Happy Hour is probably the best deal you’ll find south of the Manatee River. It runs from 3:00-7:00 pm every day. Many of the appetizers are offered at a discount, sometimes up to ½ off the regular price. That includes the Poutines, their house fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds; Annalida’s Boneless Tenders, tossed in local hot sauce and served with melted Gorgonzola dressing; and Fish Tacos, tempura fried cod with pico de gallo and lemon aioli.
All of these are under $8. But happiness does not stop there. They also have $7 martinis and premium cocktails, $6 house wines, and $5 wells. I always start happy hour with a Snootytini, remember Snooty? The Florida manatee that resided at the Bishop Museum of Science and lived for 69 years. In any case, the martini is named after him, and it’s a tasty martini with refreshing flavors.
Let’s talk about dinner. For dinner, you can have a full 5-course meal or keep it as simple as you’d like. They have appetizers, flatbreads, soups, salads, seafood, fresh fish, poultry, pasta, steaks, sandwiches, sushi, and desserts. I would suggest the Baked Onion Soup with caramelized sweet onions, toasted croutons, and melted provolone; the Stuffed Salmon with spinach, mascarpone cream, crab, and corn risotto; the Chicken Chévre with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, mashed potatoes, and vegetables or the Roasted Duck – a half duck with gravy, mashed potatoes, and vegetables.
That’s about as far as I’ve gotten on their menu, but there are many, many more entrées to choose from. One thing you can’t skip is their incredible Peanut Butter Pie, a shareable slice of creamy peanut butter mousse on an Oreo crust with chocolate ganache. A-Ha!
If you want to start your weekend off right, head over to Pier 22 to enjoy a relaxing breakfast or brunch. Nothing tops a Bloody Mary with Beignets and a made-to-order omelet while enjoying the stunning view of the Manatee River. Other great options include a Breakfast Bowl with fried potatoes, sausage, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, onions & peppers, cheese, scrambled eggs; or a Vegetable Omelet with spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and feta cheese served with home fries. These options won’t break the bank and will make you feel like you’re enjoying the finest resort experience.
Pier 22 is also known for their wine dinners which are advertised on the “Events” tab of their website. These are quite fun and you get to share a wine-paired dinner with soon-to-be new friends while enjoying the views from the second-floor Grand Ballroom.
There’s so much to say about this place, but I suggest you experience it yourself. Don’t be intimidated. I’ve learned that you can spend as little or as much as you choose and still enjoy an unforgettable meal.
I can’t leave you without a short history of the building. The original Municipal Pier was built at this location in 1878. At the time, this city steamboat dock was known as the Corwin Dock. It was named after Samuel C. Corwin, a community dignitary who worked the dock as an operator for three years, before purchasing it and changing the name.
In 1931, it was rebuilt and named the Memorial Pier in honor of 21 young men from Manatee County who gave their life during WWI. The second-floor ballroom was the center of the social scene and featured dances and events.
The ground floor was initially a warehouse for merchants of the steamer boats going in and out of Tampa. It also served as the home of the South Florida Museum, the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, and the county’s first radio station in 1946. We know that today this structure is a testament to the city once known as Bradentown.