Chef Frank & Sous Chef Nicole

Beaufort has its fair share of delicious casual dining spots—everything from pizza joints to Mexican cantinas, fried seafood to Southern specialties and creative gastropub grub to continental cuisine. But what Beaufort doesn’t have much of is that ‘special’ place. The place to celebrate an occasion like a birthday, anniversary or new job—or just another day in our Lowcountry paradise. A cozy place where you can impress your date. Or simply a place to gather with friends and enjoy a sumptuous meal with personalized attentive service. But that’s all changed with Chef Frank’s Bistro in Port Royal.

Owned and operated by Chef Frank Chiasera, Chef Frank’s Bistro opened in the old Black Dog Grill space in April 2023 to rave reviews, and Chef Frank hasn’t looked back since opening night. “I was a little anxious about opening the restaurant at first,” he recalls. “It’s been so much better than I thought it would be.”

First, a bit more about Chef Frank. Raised in Niagara Falls, New York, Frank found his way into

Caprese Chicken

the kitchen of a small Italian restaurant when he was 16. He thought he wanted to be a draftsman after high school, but always seemed to find himself in the comfort zone of a kitchen. From dishwasher to cook and then a culinary program at a community college, Frank knew he had found his calling, graduating from the iconic Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in the early 1990s.

After a few stints in restaurants in New York where Frank learned how to cook quickly, often preparing 20 things at a time, a friend reached out about an opportunity at a private member club. He then spent the next 20 years working in some of the top private golf and country clubs in the nation, including several in the Lowcountry between Charleston and Richmond Hill, Georgia.

However, as the club environment—with typically three meals a day 364 days a year, plus special events, private parties, large staffs, corporate politics and more—started to eventually wear thin, Frank decided that the time was right to try something new.

He had always had a desire to open his own restaurant. He knew he wanted to bring the club

Grilled watermelon feta salad

experience to a restaurant, complete with white tablecloths, delicious food that was a culmination of his 25 years of cooking, dedicated service by servers who knew how to read the room (and their customers) and his own personalized interaction with the guests.

An acquaintance who also knew the owner of Black Dog Grill, informed Frank that they were looking to get out of their Port Royal location. “The minute I saw the quaint cozy dining room with the white tablecloths and art on the walls, I knew this was the space,” he says. The restaurant has 37 seats, as well as 12 seats outside overlooking Paris Avenue and the Cypress Wetlands, when the weather allows.

Mushroom Egg Roll

When asked about his food philosophy, Chef Frank replied, “If we have it in-house, we’ll make it.” With all their dishes being made fresh daily and having a goal of offering personalized service, when a guest asks for gluten-free, vegetarian, no garlic or whatever, Frank and his staff will bend over backwards to make it happen.

His small staff is part of the key. With just Chef Frank and sous chef Nicole Harrell in the kitchen, they are a well-oiled machine and work extraordinarily well with one another. Having hired the Burton native while he was the executive chef at The Ford Field & River Club in Richmond Hill, Chef Frank insisted that Nicole come with him to Port Royal. Nicole jumped at the opportunity, in that it would give her more control on menu planning and execution of every dish on the menu.

Another key is the service. Ashley and Sandy stayed on from Black Dog Grill and Rosie and

Seared scallops

Rachel joined the team shortly after they opened. Whether knowing a repeat guest’s wine preference, being able to describe the menu in detail or intuitively understanding whether guests prefer to power through their meals efficiently or linger over coffee and dessert, these powerhouse servers help to elevate the experience.

The menu is an accumulation of everything Chef Frank has learned along the way. From local specialties like oysters Rockefeller and seared shrimp cakes to Asian nods like steak and mushroom eggroll and crab Rangoon, the palate-opening starters are hard to resist.

Salads are creative, generous and often celebrate the season, with options like golden beet and goat cheese, caprese or grilled watermelon and feta.

Caprese Salad

Entrées are typically Mediterranean leaning with an appropriate selection of fish, beef, chicken and pasta. Crowd favorites include: the caprese chicken with fresh pillowy buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomato and basil, caramelized pearl onions and local wild mushroom gnocchi (OMG—we’re salivating just typing this); classic pan seared wild caught salmon with roasted garlic and vegetable risotto and white butter sauce; and marinated rack of lamb with local chestnut mushroom polenta (yum!) and a cherry demi-glacé. Additionally, there are two of Chef Frank’s favorites that are emblematic of his cooking style: grilled pesto-crusted swordfish with roasted garlic and vegetable risotto, asparagus and lemon butter and Sugo de Salsiccia, a luscious Italian sausage marinara enveloping pappardelle pasta, finished with shaved parmesan and garlic bread.

Everything is made in-house by either the chef or Nicole, including all the dressings (the lemon thyme vinaigrette is to die for) and desserts like chocolate crème brûlée and budino (an Italian butterscotch custard with salted caramel topping), all of which Frank has created over the years. Chef Frank’s offers a nice wine selection of wines from around the world and a variety of beers, including some local options.

Although much of Chef Frank’s menu features local ingredients—including mushrooms from Lowcountry Mushrooms, shrimp and other seafood from Sea Eagle and microgreens from Hardee Greens, he is expanding regional sourcing now that the restaurant is up and running.

With approximately 95% of his customers being locals who found the restaurant by word of

Seared halibut

mouth, Chef Frank has been overwhelmed by the support of the community. This has made his goal of personalized service even easier to accomplish. He loves getting to know his customers—from answering the phone and taking reservations to coming out to greet the guests each. He also plans to give back to the community with special dinners benefitting Second Helping, wine dinners, themed dinners like New Years Eve and Valentine’s Day and participation in area activities like Tides to Table Restaurant Week and Off the Eaten Path.

Initially not wanting to be known solely as a white tablecloth restaurant, Chef Frank is warming up to the concept—and so are his already loyal patrons. “I’m embracing the idea that we are a special occasion restaurant.” In our opinion, we’re happy to have such a great go-to place for special occasions. Sure, we have our favorites for a quick weekday dinner. But it’s exciting to have that one spot that feels elevated. Where you feel a bit more special, get a taste of the red-carpet (and white tablecloth) treatment, and, well, feel like a member of a special club.


Chef Frank’s Bistro

1635 Paris Ave.

Port Royal, SC 29935


Open Tuesday-Saturday 5:00pm-9:00pm