Need seven fishes? They’ve got that and much more at Ippolito’s wholesale cousin — Giuseppe’s Market at Samuels and Son
Every Christmas Eve, Lydia Sarson of Warnock Street maintains a family tradition. “I make fish stew from fresh red snapper while my husband makes clams. The stew is good. The clams are the best you’ll ever eat.” She buys locally whenever she can. “Ippolitos,” she says in a word.
Sarson’s story is like that of many families who live in South Philadelphia, but in July Ippolito’s Seafood – the venerable seafood purveyor at 13th and Dickinson – closed for renovations. Owners expected a late-2018 re-opening. When construction continued through the fall, customers and neighbors questioned the fate of the hundred-year-old family-owned business.
Bill Bradford, marketing and communications manager at Ippolito’s, reports the retailer is fine – it will return in 2019. In the meantime, customers who depend on Ippolito’s for their holiday table have an exceptional alternative in Giuseppe’s Market at Samuels and Son Seafood, 3400 S. Lawrence Street.
“Giuseppe’s has all the customer favorites from Ippolito’s, but on a bigger scale,” says Bradford. “And, we have a huge parking lot.”
For those unfamiliar with the Philadelphia store, it began in 1919 when Giuseppe Ippolito started a pushcart seafood sales business with his father-in-law. By 1934, Ippolito was the sole proprietor. He replaced his pushcarts with horse-drawn wagons. In 1945, he opened Ippolito’s – a business that expanded through the ‘50s and ‘60s under the helm of his daughter and her son, Rose and Samuel D’Angelo. In 1989, the family opened Samuels and Son and entered the wholesale and commercial market. They now have 400 employees and handle 400 million pounds of seafood yearly.
“We stock fresh fish from around the world,” continues Bradford, “but during the holidays we sell and take orders for prepared dishes, too. Clams casino, oysters Rockefeller, crab stuffed shrimp, red and white mussels – you name it.”
Traditional customers still buy ingredients for baccala – dried, salted cod popular around Christmas. “That will never change, but we also keep up with current trends. Younger people love sushi, sashimi, and sustainable seafood, and we carry a whole line of those products, too,” says Bradford.
Sarson is exactly the customer Bradford describes. “I always consider sustainability,” she says. “Sustainability is important to yearly traditions. We want to have stew again next year, and for years to come.”
For those looking beyond standard seafood and fish, Giuseppe’s Market also carries international offerings like Parrot Fish, Octopus, and Gordon Ramsay’s standard, John Dory. “It’s the tube squid that will sell out, though,” warns Bradford. “It always does.”
A Catholic Italian-American tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Christmas eve celebration. With origins in southern Italy, it commemorates the Vigilia di Natale – the wait for the midnight birth of Jesus.
The most traditional “seven fishes” dinner comprises whiting with lemon, mussels in spaghetti, baccala, and any combination and number of seafood dishes after that.
This year, Giuseppe’s Market recommends:
- Baccala – the time-honored favorite, sold soaked or unsoaked.
- Wild, natural Texas gold shrimp
- Samuel’s Kings Point Oysters
- Sustainably-raised Verlasso salmon
- Aunt Connie’s prepared seafood salad
- Stuffed tube squid
Giuseppe’s Market, at Samuels and Son Seafood is open daily through Christmas Eve, 8-4 except Sunday when it closes at 3.
Regular business hours then resume Monday through Saturday, 9 AM- 3 PM.
Ippolito’s will return in spring, 2019.