Organic shrimp centerpiece of Citarella's seafood campaign

Published on
August 29, 2019

New York City, New York, U.S.A.-based Citarella Market is differentiating itself by offering a variety of prepared seafood items along with unique species, including organic shrimp from Madagascar.

The chain of eight stores – along with its burgeoning online business – is the only seafood purveyor in the United States to carry the Madagascar Organic Shrimp via Monaco-based OSO, which the company claims are “sustainably farmed.”

OSO cultivates its organic shrimp on a 4,000-hectare farm of ponds filled with filtered sea water that have been built in the heart of the Ankarana Reserve in northeastern Madagascar. 

"It’s an excellent product. They really look good and taste good, and have been pretty well-received,” Joe Gurrera, owner and original fishmonger at Citarella, told SeafoodSource.

The premium shrimp retails for USD 24.99 (EUR 22.55) per pound at Citarella stores and on its website. 

“It is quite expensive with the freight. If I can take a bigger quantity next time, I can probably have savings that I can pass along,” Gurerra said.

The fresh, head-on Madagascar organic shrimp should not be boiled – they taste best grilled or sautéed whole, according to Gurerra. The shrimp have a sweet, slightly nutty flavor, and texture like a langoustine. 

“They’re like a cross between a shrimp and a lobster,” he said.

Citarella is “proud to do business with OSO, an organization that works hard to produce the best possible organic shrimp and to support the economy of the people who give us access to such an incredible product,” Gurerra said.

Citarella, which started business with one store in Manhattan in 1912, has expanded to eight stores in New York City, the Hamptons, and Connecticut, along with two Wine & Spirits stores. The markets specialize in seafood, meat, cheese, chef-prepared dishes, handmade pastry, and produce. 

Gurerra also operates Lockwood & Winant at the Fulton Fish Market, the largest purveyor at the famous New York market, with nearly every species of fresh seafood represented. In addition to importing seafood, Citarella and Lockwood & Winant source directly from fishermen in Montauk, New York; the Carolinas; and elsewhere.

“Seafood sales are going up [in part] because people are starting to realize eating seafood is healthy,” Gurerra said. Citarella carries a wide variety of U.S. and imported seafood. Its fresh salmon offerings, for example, include wild-caught U.S. salmon, organic imported salmon, and New Zealand king salmon.

In addition to unique and upscale seafood species, Citarella is differentiating itself with a growing variety of prepared foods items – and a growing e-commerce business.

At its Hudson Yards store, it recently added a grill, so it can grill whole fish to order for customers. That store also features a raw bar, with around eight different varieties of oysters, along with uni and other items. 

Among Citarella’s other prepared items are Gurerra’s ceviche recipe, adapted from his “Joe Knows Fish” cookbook. 

Citarella ships the OSO shrimp, along with any other fresh seafood item available in its stores, to customers across the U.S. via FedEx overnight. 

“Before the internet, all these land-locked states had no opportunity; it was very difficult for them to buy fresh seafood,” Gurerra said. 

Its e-commerce business to consumers and restaurants is expanding, in part, because it allows consumers to purchase as if they were visiting the fresh seafood counters in its stores.

”You can ask for a whole fish, head-on, head-off, fillets, or however you would like it. And you are receiving everything the day next day – fresh, not frozen,” Gurerra said.

Photo courtesy of Citarella

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