There Are No Fish Tales at Dilly’s Seafood

Michael Caronchi photography

While a lot of seafood is billed as “fresh,” only a small subset literally comes directly from the boat to consumers. Dilly’s Seafood is passionately dedicated to providing the second category.

Tim Dillingham (aka Dilly), a full-time commercial fisherman, founded Dilly’s Seafood in 2018 alongside his lifelong friend Gary Rudd. He navigated the seemingly endless stream of licenses, permits, and restrictions to work as both a wholesale and retail dealer, thus eliminating the steps between water and plate. To ensure that his fish is as fresh as possible, he goes out for 14 to 30 hours at a time, in contrast to the five-to-six-day runs of most commercial fleets.

“I’m committed to a true, authentic, locally caught product,” he says. “I want people to see the fish before they eat it. Don’t take my word for it—come down to the dock and watch me filet an 85-pound grouper that ends up as your dinner tonight.”

Currently, his fish is available at two local venues: The Dilly’s Seafood food truck at Celebration Park, where Jamaican chef Oran Townsend transforms fresh catches into an array of savory chalkboard specials, and Three60 Market, where patrons can order from a full menu based on what the boat brings in that day. While his goal is to have his own restaurant eventually, Dillingham has no plans to expand in the near future.

“I want to stay true to being local and go further with what we’ve already done,” he says. “I was in finance for many years and used to work the entire week to indulge my fishing addiction on the weekends. I finally decided to do something I really enjoy.”

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