Coast Cuisine - April 2022
- by Lisa Monti
There’s a lot more to Beachside at Buoys’ chalkboard menu than its namesake hamburger, but even among such over-the-top offerings as Sicilian stuffed artichokes – a special order item – and the Muffuletta King Cake, a Carnival mashup of two NOLA classics, the burger is a standout.
In just the short time that Beachside has been open, the burger has won Coast and state competitions for best in its category. One enthusiastic fan on social media called them the best burgers on the Coast, “worth the drive, worth the price, just plain worth it!”
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The burgers Chef Joe Castoro served at his family’s Bay Marina had quite a following before he and Michelle Beauregard opened Beachside at Buoys last Labor Day. Now, new fans are discovering the Beachside Burger at the top of the menu and five other variations, all made with a third- pound of fresh, never frozen, Angus beef. There’s the J-Mac, featuring bacon and cheese; the chili burger; the Double Down with two patties; and the Triple Threat with three. The “Hangover Cure” burger is dressed with a fried egg, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo.
All the burgers come with a generous portion of hand-cut fries that are the perfect crisp and salty side.
The rest of Beachside’s menu is tiki fare, tasty and casual, including their popular wings in several flavors; wraps filled with pork carnitas or veggies; a mixed green salad that can be punched up with carnitas or chicken; a flavorful Chicken Caprese sandwich; and a shrimp burger.
Regular fries come dressed with salt and pepper. You can opt for “Gawlic” or cheese fries, “Dirty” fries with cheddar, chili, pico and sour cream, or “Chey Fries” with chunks of pork carnitas and garlic.
The Jersey Shore cheese balls are a popular side unique in these parts. They’re served with ranch or marinara – both homemade – or hot sauce.
All the items are prepared by Chef Joe, who graduated from the Florida Culinary Institute and worked in fine dining restaurants in south Florida before taking over the kitchen at Bay Marina’s grill and tiki bar.
Having a venue with a vibe like Beachside’s was something the chef always wanted, and when it became available, he and Michelle set up shop in the tiny building on the edge of Buoy’s popular deck.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Michelle said. “It’s nice to be able to enjoy the best view of the Gulf Coast.” Customers enjoy the Gulf breezes, the spectacular views and the live music which draws people to the location. There’s also seating available indoors if the weather isn’t great.
March was a good month for Beachside, bustling with orders. “Summer came faster than we anticipated, but it gave us an idea of what to expect. It’s been really great. A lot of interesting people have come up to that window.”
Their customers come from all over the country. “One family this past week came in a motorhome from Chicago with their kids and a dog. They said, ‘This is a little slice of heaven.’ It’s great to be able to see people enjoying it.”
Weekends bring the crowds to the deck area to enjoy live entertainment, the views, the food and fare.
“The daytime atmosphere on the deck is different from nighttime,” Michelle said. “We’re seeing more of a family environment with kids and dogs, strollers and bicycles, and everybody’s having a nice time. Folks love sitting there tapping their toes.”
Since opening last year “on a wing and a prayer,” Michelle said they have been tweaking the menu, trying new items and figuring out how to get through the long winter months by creating holiday dishes and special items. One winner was the savory Muffuletta King Cake. It was a huge hit with customers and even won praise from the owners of Central Grocery, where the Muffuletta was created. The sweet King Cakes, including a cannoli version and the Berry Chantilly Cream King Cake made with Chef Joe’s made-from-scratch creams, won top honors in a local newspaper contest.
Recently, Michelle has been preparing stuffed artichokes, a dish that goes back to her great-great-grandparents from Sicily. The show-stopping artichokes are stuffed Sicilian-style with Italian bread crumbs, Italian cheese, and spices. The dish is available only on weekends.
“The recipe has been passed down through my mom to me,” said Michelle, whose grandparents had a seafood restaurant in Algiers Point. Preparing the artichokes, making the stuffing and then stuffing the leaves is time-consuming, but Michelle calls it “a labor of love.”
“It’s nice to be able to do something different and watch people enjoy it,” she said. This summer she plans to make individual muffalettas with Leidenheimer French bread, both iconic foods from her native New Orleans.
After her family moved to the Bay, Michelle attended Our Lady Academy, and Beachside recently started donating ten percent of food sales on Wednesdays to her alma mater. Michelle calls it “a cool opportunity to give back.” She expects to continue the OLA donations through the summer.
But back to those hamburgers: What makes them so good? Michelle gives all the credit to Chef Joe’s culinary training and experience.
“After 20 years in fine dining restaurants, you know what tastes good and mixes well,” she said. “He never ceases to amaze me. Everything he does, he does with heart. It’s his passion, and it comes out in what goes out on the plate.”
Beachside at Buoys
115 South Beach Blvd., Bay St Louis
Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday 11 am to 10 pm
Friday & Saturday 11 am to 2 am
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