We caught up with Joe Gurrera, the owner of Citarella and the author of “Joe Knows Fish” to learn more about everything from growing his fish business to go-to dishes, and entertaining on the East End.
Tell us a little about your background in the seafood business.
I started out working for my family’s seafood business, visiting the original Fulton Fish Market for 10 years as a buyer and getting acquainted with how business was done there. In 1983, after I had established myself in the industry, I bought Citarella — a small seafood shop on the Upper West Side — with the intention of revitalizing it and growing it. Two years later in 1985, I bought a seafood wholesale company that had originally been formed in 1910, Lockwood & Winant, allowing me to cut out the middleman so to speak and continue building direct relationships with fishermen. Lockwood & Winant now has the largest footprint at the Fulton Fish Market and we supply all of our Citarella stores, top chefs, and consumers nationally with the highest quality seafood.
Talk about the growth of Citarella over the years to where it is today.
I bought the Upper West Side location of Citarella in 1983, and we’ve grown to seven locations across New York City, the Hamptons, and Connecticut. We started with a focus on seafood, and expanded to include prime meats, restaurant-quality prepared foods, pastries, sweets, and pantry items. We now ship our fresh seafood nationally as well, bringing the best of the iconic Fulton Fish Market and Citarella to the entire country.
What are a few of your go-to dishes?
My go-to dishes are heavily dependent on the season and what’s coming in at the market. I love soft shell crabs, delicately sweet Nantucket Bay scallops, and grilling whole porgy.
Tell us about your book “Joe Knows Fish.”
“Joe Knows Fish” was truly a labor of love. I’ve been a fishmonger for decades, and my passion is building relationships with fishing families and bringing their best catches to my customers. It was always frustrating to me that people seemed to be intimidated by cooking seafood, so I set out to create a cookbook that would do just the opposite. I collected my favorite recipes and presented them approachably, focusing on the freshest seafood and quality ingredients. The book includes recipes that I make for myself and my family, and I’m proud to share it with anyone looking to become comfortable with cooking seafood.
When you aren’t working, how do you like to enjoy your time on the East End?
My favorite way to spend my downtime on the East End is by cooking and entertaining family. We have large get-togethers at my home out East for holidays and special occasions, and I’m either manning our oversized grill or working the stove making sure everyone is fed!