Last year at the beginning of Lent, we did a roundup of our local fishmarkets. As the season (and its first Friday) approaches, I thought it’d be nice to put it out there again. And watch me on RNN tonight…. I’ll be talking about these local shops.
Here’s the story:
37 Tarrytown Road, White Plains. 914-288-9521.
At Apple Farm, shoppers walk through the bustle, around the piles of fruit and vegetables, past the Italian deli case and on to the rows of whole fish on ice. Just take a plastic pan and help yourself; the multilingual fishmongers will weigh the fish for you. Fish is about 20 percent of Apple’s business all year. “We bring in fresh fish everyday,” says manager Jay Suh. The blue crabs, mullet, eels and whiting are labeled in English, but they’ll go into Korean dishes, Latino dinners and Italian specialties for all kinds of holidays. Judith Hausman
C & M Seafood
366 Route 202, Pomona. 845-354-1161.
A ton – literally -of fresh fish and seafood moves in and out of C&M Seafood every week, an impressive figure for a 400-square-foot retail space. To be fair, though, not all that finned food is sold directly through the fish market.
Not long after the fishmonger’s shop opened in 1978, customers started asking for prepared meals, with as many as 250 orders coming in every Friday during Lent. Eventually the owners opened Gilligan’s, which has grown into a full-service, 150-seat seafood restaurant that shares the same piece of Pomona real estate.
The two establishments are so intertwined – you can get anything from Gilligan’s menu as takeout from the fish market -that C&M manager Vito Russo can’t say how much fish the store sells because they don’t separate retail from restaurant sales.
The most popular item, on either the raw or the cooked side of the business, is flounder fillet. Deven and Jill Black
448 Main St., Mount Kisco. 914-666-6929.
Conte’s Fishmarket is hard to miss with its brightly painted exterior on corner on Route 117. The fish case is in the back of a 36-seat, cash-only, BYOB restaurant, which is decked out with nautical dÃƒÂ©cor: nets, cork floaters, carved fish and other paraphernalia.
Owner Rob Conte can tell you what you need to know about the skate, tuna and monkfish waiting there on ice.
He sells more cod, sole and shrimp during Lent, and his oven-ready dinners are even more popular. “I ask them if they’re adventuresome and then recommend fish they may not have tried,” Conte says. Judith Hausman
Eastchester Fish Gourmet
837 White Plains Road, Eastchester. 914-725-3450, www.eastchesterfish.com
Rick Ross has been bringing fresh fish to lower Westchester for more than 25 years. He started out as a buyer for Windows on the World and was a director of purchasing for the Hyatt Corporation before opening his shop in 1981.
Between the retail shop and the restaurant two doors down, he’s built a business that moves 5,000 pounds of fish a week. During Lent, he notices people scooping up a lot of scrod and flounder fillets – “because that’s what they grew up with” – but he offers between 25 and 30 other varieties.
People buy a lot more prepared foods these days; at least half his sales are such daily-prepared dishes as Chilean Sea Bass with fresh tomatoes and herbs or parmesan-crusted cod. Elizabeth Johnson
Ebb Tide Seafood
1 Willett Ave., Port Chester. 914-939-4810.
Owner Tav Passarelli has a small fish case in a big, blue bait-and-tackle shop decked with nautical items. He doesn’t have a large variety of fish, but he has a following for the fish he does carry. He gets wild salmon in season (right now it’s farmed and organic), fresh cod, monkfish and tilefish.
During the season, he gets tuna from Montauk, and he always has wild sole. But what he might be best known for is his shellfish – shrimp, clams, oyster and lobster, especially lobster rolls. His lobster is so popular, people were buying it and sitting outside in the parking lot to eat it. He preferred they sit comfortably, so he added a deck looking out over the Byram River and set up a few picnic tables. On a nice day in summer, it’s packed.
Passarelli is looking to cover the deck with an awning this summer so the seating will be available even in the rain, and he’s hoping to eventually move the bait-and-tackle part of the operation to make room for a raw bar. He’s already practicing: This winter he catered several parties with raw bars. Elizabeth Johnson
407 Main St., Armonk. 914-273-1766.
Owner Ed Wechsler says Lent is probably the only time of year he highlights traditional fried fish: fried calamari, shrimp and the like.
“People are eating fish because it’s healthy, interesting and tasty,” he says. “If they have questions I guide them to meet their needs.” His prepared seafood dishes, such as lobster cakes, shrimp over angel hair pasta and chowders, sell well too. They are all made from scratch, with attention to salt, fat, and calories. Judith Hausman
Mount Kisco Seafood
477 Lexington Ave., Mount Kisco. 914-241-3113.
Mount Kisco Seafood gets busier on Fridays during Lent. When it moved into much larger new digs in 2005, the store became a full-service market, selling artisan bread, local produce, beef, cheeses and sweets. You can also eat its seafood at The Fish Cellar restaurant on the other side of town – both are owned by Joe DeMauro.
For Lent, you can take home more than a dozen soups or their tuna, cod or lobster cakes for a quick sautÃƒÂ©. “We carry at least 40 varieties of fish at any time so you can vary what you eat,” says head chef Jon Everin. “Everything in moderation is my answer.” Judith Hausman
545 Route 6, Mahopac. 845-621-2489. www.rickseafood.com
Rick’s Seafood has 13 tables alongside its fish case. Rick Megna has expanded into beef as well (he also owns Briccetti’s Market in Bedford Hills, a full-service gourmet market). Megna advises that “fish is a healthy source of protein and omega-3s; health benefits outweigh health risks.” In the restaurant, chef James Atkinson prepares the popular Asian-style fried calamari and horseradish-crusted Chilean sea bass; in their soup case the lobster-butternut squash bisque is a winter favorite. Judith Hausman
110 Route 304, Bardonia. 845-624-3660.
You can judge a fish market without stepping all the way inside. Just poke your nose in the door. If you get a whiff of fish, turn and flee. The first thing you’ll notice about Rockland Seafood is how clean it smells. Even on a frigid winter night just before closing, the aroma is as sweet and fresh as sheets dried in spring sunshine, a sure sign that fish is top-of-the-line fresh.
Rockland Seafood boasts of supplying some of Rockland and Westchester’s top restaurants and most demanding chefs.
Owners Tom Celestino and Brian Smith sell the same fish and seafood for home cooks, and they also offer cooked-to-order entrees, soups, sandwiches, wraps and fried dinners or microwave-ready meals. Most popular item: fillet of sole; they sell some 400 pounds a week. Deven and Jill Black
1 Stew Leonard Dr., Yonkers. 914-375-4700, www.stewleonards.com.
During Lent, sales of sole fillets, which arrive daily from New Bedford, Mass., increase 30 to 45 percent at Stew’s. And when tilapia – which is mild-flavored and liked by children – goes on sale for $5 a pound, the store will sell up to 2,000 pounds of it. Cod also sells well, but there are 25 to 30 other types of fish to choose among at the 60-foot counter.
Stew’s spokesperson Meghan Flynn says customers are starting to ask for all-natural and wild fish, and so Stew’s has begun to stock several varieties of wild salmon. But, as everywhere, prepared items are popular, especially stuffed sole, stuffed shrimp and lobster rolls. Elizabeth Johnson
380 Downing Dr., Yorktown Heights. 914-243-9100, www.turcos.com
Let’s talk numbers: 40 different types of fish, 45 feet of display case (plus another 12 feet behind for shellfish), a 12-foot freezer and 1,000 pounds of water for the fresh lobsters. And that’s not counting the 50 to 60 prepared items (stuffed shrimp, linguine with clam sauce, clam chowder), which are made from scratch down to the sauce: dill sauce, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce. The list goes on.
“Whatever you think of, we cook,” says Preston Turco, who opened the grocery store seven years ago. (He recently sold his Hartsdale store.) He says the white fish are popular these days: tilapia, snapper, bass, flounder and lemon sole. As far as concern for sustainable seafood, he says he’s customer-oriented. “If people don’t want to buy a certain item for a certain reason, we’ll let the people tell us what they would like.” Elizabeth Johnson