Contemporary cuisine served up at new downtown eatery PinPoint

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Chef Dean Neff, left, and Jeff Duckworthy are the co-owners of PinPoint, which opened this week in the old Deluxe and Perkeo location on Market Street downtown. Neff's fiance, Lydia Copton, is the in-house pastry chef. Photo courtesy Jeff Duckworth.
Chef Dean Neff, left, and Jeff Duckworth are the co-owners of PinPoint, which opened this week in the old Deluxe and Perkeo location on Market Street downtown. Neff’s fiance, Lydia Copton, is the in-house pastry chef. Photo courtesy Jeff Duckworth.

A new restaurant hearkening back to Southern roots but edging forward with modern flare is now open in downtown Wilmington.

PinPoint–which takes its name from the coastal Gullah area near chef Dean Neff’s hometown of Savannah, Georgia–gave its first dinner service Thursday at its 114 Market St. location, the former home of Deluxe and Perkeo.

Neff and business partner Jeff Duckworth, who manages the dining room, began renovating the space in January. But opening up a restaurant together, Duckworth said, was something the pair had oft discussed over the years.

Duckworth and Neff met in Athens, Georgia, where Neff made his name in the kitchen of the sought-after eatery, 5&10. Duckworth is a former Bojangles franchisee who has also worked in the concert business.

“Dean and I have been talking about opening up a restaurant together for a long time,” Duckworth noted.

Last year, Neff and fiance Lydia Copton–who is now PinPoint’s in-house pastry chef–made the move from Asheville to Wilmington to turn the idea into a brick-and-mortar business.

While PinPoint is named for a community rich in creole and Low Country cuisine, Duckworth said don’t let the name fool you.

“The name just had significance with Dean being from Savannah,” he said. “It’s definitely part of what we’re doing but it’s not all that we’re about.”

Instead, Duckworth describes the offerings as “contemporary American,” with a focus on local sourcing to the fullest extent possible.

“We obviously can’t be 100 percent locally sourced…but we are as far as cheeses and produce and [some] seafood go. And we make sure everything is at least properly sourced and sustainable.”

With an ever-rotating menu that features fresh, seasonal vegetable sides, like garlic leeks and fava beans, Pinpoint serves up some inspired southern seafood–a shrimp and octopus lettuce wrap and smoked catfish with artisan grits.

“The vegetables are always the prettiest thing on the table,” Duckworth said.

Neff has also created creative non-seafood entrees, such as chicken liver mousse and porcini crusted flat iron steak.

PinPoint currently seats 66, but Duckworth is hoping to grow the dining area as the restaurant establishes itself downtown. He and Neff also hope to expand beyond dinner service to brunch and eventually lunch.

PinPoint is currently open for dinner nightly (closed on Tuesdays) at 5 p.m.

Hilary Snow is a reporter for Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.