Residents of Marblehead know they have the good fortune of living in one of the most remarkable towns in the country. The North Shore is dotted with such spots, all filled with exciting and innovative restaurant concepts. And then there are the local food and beverage institutions that don’t change much from year to year and decade to decade, like The Landing in Old Town Marblehead.
The Landing, long loved by the town as a gathering place for waterfront dining where guests could expect the chowder to be down-right perfect, where they knew the menu by heart, and where they would be sure to bump into friends and neighbors, has been the predictable dinner with a view in Marblehead. That is, until now. The Landing is still sure to be a culinary home away from home for residents and visitors alike, but the almost 50-year-old beloved restaurant is now under a new culinary leader making some serious impact on the North Shore dining scene. The predictable is transitioning to the fresh.
Alex Pineda, son to Uriel Pineda and Lydia Shire (the dynamic culinary and romantic duo behind the celebrated Biba, Locke-Ober, Blue Sky, and Scampo), has taken the helm at The Landing with the help of Noe Ortega as co-executive chef and Robert Simonelli, who remains the dedicated and charismatic general manager.
Upon first meeting Pineda, it’s easy to be struck by his charm and enthusiasm for the restaurant’s location, and his passion for the community. But if you were inclined to dig a bit more, you’d learn that the energy and family inside of the kitchen is where Pineda is most at home. That sense of family is evident in his respect for and admiration of his co-chef, Ortega, who has been a culinary partner to Pineda for nearly a decade.
Pineda grew up standing on a milk crate, making lobster pizzas and mahogany chicken wings at Biba and then finding his own footing in kitchens in Boston, London, Spain and LA. Ortega’s passion for food began in Obregon, Sonora, Mexico. There he learned the balance of sensory moments and family celebration of food. He first worked alongside Pineda at Scampo. The two have developed a working partnership where they find joy in designing creative ways to marry their respective appreciation of taste and experience.
The Landing and its new identity are still in their early days, with menu and interior tweaks in the cards. The team hopes to continue evolving throughout the summer, with even more focus on local catch and seasonal farming changes. When guests enter, they’ll still be greeted by the smiling face of Simonelli and he just may remember favorite tables and food preferences. But all will be struck by the dynamic present menu and feel the electricity of a new kitchen.
Some favorite items so far include the yucca fritters and the extraordinary cheese ice cream placed upon a dust of graham cracker crumbs and accented with a pinch of fresh mint on top. The skirt-steak, cooked to perfection with a pistachio and tomato pesto and accompanied by chickpea fries, is a solid middle note to the yucca starter and ice cream dessert.
Head to The Landing this season to learn more of the sensory story Pineda and Ortega are telling at this version of a location that can’t be beat. For innovative and comforting food with a view, there’s hardly a better place in Marblehead to watch the boats on the harbor and the changing skies above.
For more information, visit thelandingrestaurant.com.