It all began on a whim. Arthur and Melanie Rivaldo were in no financial position to buy, let alone build, a restaurant back in 2008. But that’s exactly what the chef and then-bartender did. “We’re very impulsive people,” Melanie says with a warm smile. Yes, the owners of Hog Snappers Shack and Sushi were impetuous back then, but they were also determined, hardworking visionaries. They each worked two jobs, borrowed money and sold possessions to open an island-inspired restaurant in Tequesta in August 2009. And although they did not have a restaurant sign for nearly eight months after they opened, they had customers in the parking lot waiting in their beach chairs and pick-up trucks just to get a seat inside. Since then, they have opened two more locations: North Palm Beach in June and Stuart in December.
Before opening Hog Snappers, Arthur spent the better part of his culinary career immersed in the fine dining world. After more than 10 years, the French Institute of New York graduate was ready for a change. “I wanted to open something basic, something shacky,” Arthur Rivaldo says. With reggae music playing throughout the restaurants, tiki-hut interiors and casually dressed employees, it seems as though he has succeeded. But don’t let the easygoing vibe fool you, the menu is exceptional. Arthur Rivaldo infuses his culinary background in French and Italian cuisine with that of his hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia. Appetizers include jumbo-lump crab cakes stuffed with bacon, the mouthwatering Shack Ceviche, and the Shack-Shack 100% – a fried seafood feast. The restaurant also offers hearty salads, sandwiches and burgers like The Spike Burger – a 2-pound burger topped with applewood bacon, jalapeños, Portobello mushrooms and coleslaw.
The selection of sushi rolls, which are named after people, is constantly growing. There’s the Anaconda Roll, which has four rolls in one; and a slew of inventive rolls like the Mia Lobster Roll that has shrimp tempura, masago, avocado and is topped with lobster meat, wasabi cream and kimchee sauce.
THE DRINKS AND DESSERTS
Although only serving beer and wine, Hog Snappers features seasonal bottled brews like Shipyard’s summer and winter ales, and the local Monk in the Trunk Jupiter brew. It has a unique selection of blends such as the Marietta Cabernet blend, the Porque No Zinfandel blend and the Ramsay Petite Sirah. And for those with a sweet tooth, be sure to order one of the homemade pies such as pumpkin cinnamon or pecan toasted coconut.
WHAT TO TRY:
The aptly named appetizer, U Gotta Try This!!!, is a crispy plantain tostone, rubbed with garlic, topped with shredded beef, avocado, jalapeños, tomato, onions and garlic-avocado aioli. Also try the Crab Crusted Snapper, which is served with lobster-krab mashed potatoes and asparagus.