Local Hamptonite, fishmonger and owner of Citarella Joe Gurrera spotlights his supporting local purveyors, who play a major behind-the-scenes role in all of the dishes we love most.
Build Your Own Lobster Roll Kit fit for six
“I’ve been passionate about the East End of Long Island since I can remember,” says Citarella owner and fishmonger Joe Gurrera. “I’ve built close relationships with fishermen and farmers operating there over a period of more than 30 years. ‘Locally sourced’ is a buzzword these days, but to me it’s everything; I consider myself incredibly lucky to have access to the region’s unparalleled bounty through legacy practitioners whose families have been working the water and land for generations.” With locations in New York City, Connecticut and the Hamptons, Citarella has morphed into an epicurean market staple spotlighting restaurant-quality prepared foods, prime meats and the freshest seafood. Gurrera adds, “It’s really a gift to have all of this natural wealth and beauty here, and though many people don’t realize it, the East End is akin to the Riviera of America.” Of course, at the center of these delicious delicacies are the prime purveyors who always know where to find the catch of the day.
Corn and tomato salad
“Daniel Farnham is a good friend who I’ve worked with for many years. His boat, the Megan Marie, catches squid, whiting and porgy, and I know that when I buy from him, I’m getting the best. If you’re purchasing those items at Citarella, there’s a good chance his crew caught them. Porgy is actually one of my all-time favorite fish to eat, and it only gets a bad rap because it’s bony and requires know-how to prep properly. I grill them whole, and there’s nothing better.”
Joe Guerrera with the Nolan family
THE NOLAN FAMILY
“I’ve been sourcing tilefish from the Nolan family for almost 30 years. A salesperson at my seafood wholesale company, Lockwood & Winant, made the connection with them originally, and I’m so grateful he did. Owners John and Laurie have been building their family business for decades. They both come from fishing backgrounds and have continued the tradition of catching tilefish off the coast of Montauk for generations. This family is close-knit, and their son, Young John, captains their 82-foot boat, Sea Capture. Standing on the dock in Montauk, watching them unload their golden spotted catch is an impressive sight.”
Fried oysters and clams
“Howard Pickerell, owner of Peconic Pride, grows oysters in the pristine waters of Long Island’s Peconic Bay. Howard and I have both been in business a long time—I’m always on the lookout for new suppliers of quality seafood and was happy to find out about his operation when I did. Going out on Howard’s boat, I saw the process of how he farms oysters year-round with great dedication and commitment. The healthy ecosystem of the bay creates beautiful oysters.”
Guerrera with Howard Pickerell
“There are many wonderful farms out East, and when I’m sourcing produce, just as when I’m looking for fishermen, I choose the ones that do what they do best. Betty and Peter Dankowski of Dankowski Farms in Wainscott grow the most delicious late-summer corn and tomatoes you’ll ever taste, and for organic watermelon, I deal with Ernest and Daphne Scalamandre of Indian Neck Farm in the North Fork. Red, orange and yellow are some of the hues that their watermelons display; they are true East End treasures.”
Oven-roasted Montauk tilefish
OVEN-ROASTED MONTAUK TILEFISH
2 (6- to 8-oz.) skin-on Montauk tilefish fillets
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Put the tilefish in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Using your hands, gently rub the oil over the fillets until fully coated. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the tilefish skin-side up on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Serve immediately.
“We get tilefish locally here in New York off the coast of Montauk, of which a good portion is caught year-round. These beauties, with their distinctive golden spots, are as delicious as they are gorgeous. You rarely see it on menus, though, because it’s just not as well-known as other big game fish.”
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF CITARELLA