By Tanner Czipri
While driving down the Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs, people can view the history of many Greek restaurants, fishing charters, and sponge boats. It’s here that you’ll find Rusty Bellies Dockside Grill. Rusty Bellies is a family owned and operated restaurant specializing in serving fresh-caught seafood off the shores of Florida and is located at 937 Dodecanese Blvd. Tarpon Springs, FL.
When looking around the restaurant, people will see photos of family, friends, and local fishermen that bring the freshest seafood to Pelican Point’s dock. Joe and Sue, AKA “Mam-ma” to regulars, opened the restaurant in June of 2005. Since then, the family has dedicated three generations and numerous fishing boats to their restaurant. The restaurant’s first boat, the Julie Ann, is a shrimp boat that’s brought in the freshest possible appetizers and entrée combos since 1970! Their second boat, the Redman, is for grouper and has been sailing since 1985.
A friendly hostess greets customers at the door and offers a couple of different seating areas. One option is to sit on the front deck overlooking the Sponge Docks. A seating alternative is to sit at a waterfront Tiki bar. It’s a great place to bring family and friends to dine in or to enjoy some music on the weekend.
Rusty Bellies has happy hour from 4pm-7pm daily. The Tiki bar is a perfect spot to come grab a cold one and enjoy the atmosphere. The outside dining area includes a large, full liquor Tiki bar and 20 tables overlooking the Anclote River. The Tiki bar is equipped with televisions for people to watch their favorite games.
The food here is simply amazing! Start with an appetizer like the “Hook Line and Sinker.” It includes a combo of fried shrimp, crab fritters, and calamari on a bed of onion straws. For an entrée a must-try is the “E. Sea Rider,” which includes a skewer of shrimp, sea scallops, and a grilled fish fillet of your choice served over rice with warm lemon dill for dipping. After that, are you prepared for dessert? “Mam-ma” makes every dessert dish home-made from scratch.
Rusty Bellies thirty years of family service is constantly growing. Friends are always welcome, and an original Tarpon Springs style fish-house is guaranteed. The restaurant has a comfortable, “homey-feeling” that puts customers at ease, so it becomes quite talkative. The staff will work hard to accommodate each of the customer’s needs and promise to be informative about the entrees (For those that aren’t so familiar with the Brandon Travis).