The Gourmet Grocery Store Where You Can Find The Freshest Fish In NYC

Citarella storefront
Citarella storefront - Anne Czichos/Getty Images

A trip to any one of Citarella's seven New York locations (plus one in Connecticut) fills any discerning foodie with an unshakeable sense of "I can't wait to go home and cook something awesome." Wild-caught flounder, fluke, shad, whole arctic char, grouper, eel, and striped bass glisten on ice. Regional fare from Nova Scotia lobsters to PEI oysters, wild swordfish steaks, Florida stone crab claws, Tasmanian trout, New Zealand Ora King salmon, and more are all laid out, representing the best of the best from pole to pole. Need grated bottarga? How about sea urchins, cuttlefish ink, and lobster stock? Citarella has it -- and also carries Tuscan Branzino, the only purveyor in America to sell it. It's out on display less than 24 hours after it's caught in Italy.

Citarella has been serving New York City for over 100 years and its seafood display totes world-class fare that can only be acquired through a lifetime of building friendships. Some things money alone cannot buy, let alone perpetuate into a one-of-a-kind gourmet business. Indeed, founder Joe Gurrera knows this and has spent his over-40-year career focusing on people and relationships at the heart of his craft (even, perhaps, over the fish).

New York City's original Fulton Fish Market pre-dates the Brooklyn Bridge. As the Market's website puts it, "For nearly 200 years, this bounty was only available to the world's best restaurants and the brave few willing to shop the market at 3 a.m." Among those brave few was Gurrera.

Read more: 14 Popular Chain Grocery Stores For Meat, Ranked Worst To Best

Bringing International Seafood To The New York Community

Citarella Tuscan Branzino
Citarella Tuscan Branzino - citarellagourmetmarket / Instagram

Back when 12-hour workdays were common industry practice, Joe would personally be among the first fishmongers to arrive at Fulton when it opened before dawn to get the first pick, then work late into the evening. This passionate dedication is why Guerrera is the heart of Citarella, a now-sprawling gourmet seafood empire that serves the city's top restaurants and roughly five million intrepid home cooks alike every single year. But, when Gurrera bought the first Citarella location in 1983, it was still a neighborhood seafood shop in Manhattan's Upper West Side, where it had been serving the community since 1912. He first cut his teeth working alongside his father at the family fish shop in Greenwich Village as a teenager. In just a few years, he became a supplier for local restaurants, broadening his net (pun intended) and laying the bricks of the Citarella empire.

In the time since, Joe has spent decades forming connections and building bonds with fishermen from the local New England waters to purveyors across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean — many of whom are also multi-generational family businesses. Relationships like these are why all of Citarella's seafood is shipped overnight and never frozen. The fish are hand-cut, hand-shucked, and deboned by in-store expert fishmongers with samurai-esque knife skills. Today, Citarella markets also sell store-made pasta, baked goods, cheeses, breads, deli sandwiches, elaborate cakes and tarts, and more, plus a selection of international produce and wine.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.