Citarella’s wide-ranging selection of seafood is highlighted by some of the most sought-after delicacies that would make any holiday meal feel decadent. Owner Joe Gurrera shares his thoughts on the popular items you’ll want to indulge in this year.
“The colder the water, the better the oyster,” according to Joe, who believes the same concept applies to fish. “I’m not a marine biologist, but I do know, if you get the same exact species in cold water, it tastes better.”
The New England coast, from the Long Island Sound all the way up to Nova Scotia, provides some of the most pristine seafood around. Whether they’re from the Peconic Bay or the west coast, Joe is looking for oysters with the perfect taste and texture. Oftentimes he will go for oysters that showcase some salinity and have a plump feel.
Joe also notes that how someone opens an oyster matters, too. Whomever shucks the oyster should preserve the texture of the oyster, which also makes the presentation more palatable.
Inside the spiny exterior of the sea urchin (also called uni) you will find a prized delicacy that’s served everywhere from high-end Japanese sushi bars to Italian restaurants.
“It’s caviar-ish,” says Joe, who eats uni every other week. “But it has that texture and flavor that I like. It’s got that sea flavor that’s not overpowering.”
Joe sources harvested uni year-round, usually varieties from Santa Barbara and Maine. The west coast ones tend to be larger and more expensive, Joe notes, but uni itself is delicious served raw or as part of a dish.
The Caspian Sea was once considered the best source for caviar, but these days the American production is first-rate, says Joe.
At Citarella, you’ll find two types of caviar: American and farmed ostera. And while serving caviar is an elegant touch at any gathering, Joe also has tips on how to eat it. He recommends putting the eggs on your tongue, bringing them to the roof of your mouth, and letting them burst. Some people serve caviar with chopped onion or eggs, but Joe prefers fewer accouterments so he can taste the purity of the caviar. He never uses crackers, but serving caviar on soft French blinis is suggested.
Exclusive offer: Readers will receive $25 off their order ($75 minimum) through January 15, 2016, using code NM25. Head to citarella.com to redeem.