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FRESH fish market in Philly?

Greetings Chowhound Pennsylvania. I recently moved from DC to Philadelphia. I love to cook fish and other seafood reguarly. I am willing to pay top dollar but am specifically looking for higher end fresh fish markets. I have been to Whole Foods, Reading Terminal and the fishmongers around Italian Market and have left disappointed. I want fish that is firm, that doesn't smell fishy that is shiny and fresh. If its helpful my two favorite places to buy fish in DC were River Falls Seafood in Potomac, MD and Blacksalt in the Georgetown area of DC.

Trust that I have searched through the various other strings on this site and am only now posting my question.

Thanks very much for any suggestions or tips.

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  1. You may want to try Ippolito's, on Dickinson between 13th and Broad. They are the retail arm of Samuels and Son, who sell to most of the city's restaurants. From what I understand, the restaurants get first pick of the Samuels and Son inventory, the leftovers go to Ippolito's. I'm not a huge seafood fan, so my standards may not be as high as yours, but I've always been pleased with the fish I've gotten there.

    1. Absolutely go to Ippolito's. 13th and Dickinson. Yes, it is the retail arm of Samuals and son which supplies all the major restaurants. No, I don't think you are getting seconds, or yesterday's unsold wholesale. They have a great selection, it is wonderfully fresh and they will get you absolutely anything you want in any quantity (even just a pound) with a day or two notice. I had them take an order, call me back, discuss what I wanted, call me back again - for a $15 order. They will also cook anything in the store for you (basic bake, broil, fry)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9

        FYI - Ippolito's is now labeling all of its seafood with where it was caught. wild or farmed, and the quality of the fishing or harvesting practice (sustainable, Best practice, good practice and poor practice - and yes I have seen poor practice noted). Nice to have the information.

        1. re: Bigley9

          That is kind of awesome - thanks for the info.

      2. Ippolito's is the best in the city. I hope it meets your standards.

        1. I regularly buy fish and seafood from Chinatown. Because the Chinese eat so much fish, it is very fresh and inexpensive. There is one market, Asia Supermarket, where I like to go. The fish are so fresh that they are swimming and they will fillet them or leave them whole for you (sometimes nice for presentation). I love their shrimp ($4 per pound!) and Tilapia.

          The Chinatown markets are definitely not upscale or high end, but if you want incredibly fresh, great tasting and bargain priced seafood, I would highly recommend them. If you are of the mindset that food is better just because you paid more, then Chinatown is not for you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Main Line Tracey

            I agree. Go to Chinatown or any Asian market where you will see the fish still swimming. They will clean it for you if you don't know how to. It won't be pretty and zen, but the product is fresh. Otherwise, Ippolito's is great. Or, you can go to the Food Depot in South Philly by the Stadium but go early.

          2. If you don't mind the travel, Philadelphia Lobster and Fish in Wynnewood is the best fish market I have been in anywhere. It's in a small strip center just west of the Wynnewood road/Lancaster pike intersection on the right side. If you get to the car dealerships you have gone too far.

            2 Replies
            1. re: racefab1

              I get great sushi-grade tuna from them, and had a wonderful fresh swordfish steak as well. Typically, I do shop the Washington Ave Asian markets in the summer, and 9th street other seasons. As long as I'm allowed to smell the fish, and inspect the gills and eyes, I'm happy.

              1. re: racefab1

                I hate to bust everyones bubble but Pilly Lobster is by far the best in and around the city. It's pricey but it's quality and the fish cutting skills are the best.

              2. yep, Ippolitos is the best -- I have it on a good source that they will be opening a store/stand in Reading Terminal Mkt. by the summer....they are working on it now.

                4 Replies
                1. re: elmom

                  Wow. This clearly was either a bad rumor to begin with or simply didn't come to pass.

                  1. re: rlibkind

                    It didn't come to pass. They were talking about it in the store in 2007 but my understanding was the merchants association shot it down

                    1. re: Bigley9

                      Merchants Assn. has no vote on who management brings in . That said, manager wouldn't bring in new vendor that would cause significant harm to existing vendors. Since there are already 3 fishmongers I don't think the market would even consider a fourth. My guess us that Ippilito's may have wanted to get in but was quickly rebuffed. Had there been serious consideration on the market's side, I probably would have heard about that. And keep in mind that the existing fishmongers are good wholesale customers of S&S, plus one of the existing fish mongrers operates two other retail stores (Ardmore Farmers Market, Comcast building).

                      1. re: rlibkind

                        Before I heard it from Ippy's I heard it from a merchant in the market.

                2. the stalls on 9th street are not so bad in the winter, but i do tend to avoid them in the summer (anastasio's isn't so bad, though the whole fish are always far superior to the filets, of course). whole foods is crap, i can't believe that anyone buys seafood there.

                  i have lived in philadelphia my whole life and never even heard of ipolito's, but it sounds like paradise! thank you for asking this question....now i too have a new mission....

                  1. Ippolito's first, then chinatown. mostly Ippo because we've never been disappointed. and definitely never at 9th st. vegetables/fruits/cheeses/oils etc but not seafood.

                    1. I'm a huge fan of Dean Green Choice Meats. I have not found salmon, scallops, shrimp, or cod comparable to his food. It is definitely a diamond in the rough when driving down baltimore pike through Clifton Heights, PA. I go there weekly for fish and chicken. I always ask Dean what the freshest is, and it is hands down better fish than anywhere else I have bought in this area. We've been here for about 7 years. We enjoy his salmon weekly!

                      Dean Green Choice Meats
                      18 E Baltimore Ave, Clifton Heights, PA 19018

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: therestingcook

                        I buy all of my fish through Otolith and participate in their Community Sponsored Seafood (CSS) program. All of the fish is reasonably priced and sushi grade. I'm never buying fish again at the Terminal Market or Wholefoods after I found this place. They are located in N. Philly and their website is http://www.otolithonline.com/about.html.

                        1. re: phillyjules

                          I second the recommendation of Otolith. Their fish and shellfish are sold frozen, but really, isn't most fish frozen on the boat? The quality is outstanding. Through their CSS program I have gotten halibut, salmon, sablefish, King crab, and prawns. I couldn't be happier and I don't buy seafood anywhere else anymore. Check out their website. You can often catch them (no pun intended) at the Rittenhouse (year-round) Farmer's Market and the Headhouse Market seasonally, where they distribute their CSS shares and also sell their seafood. I think they may also distribute at the Milk and Honey Market in West Philly.

                          1. re: Hansel

                            I've come thisclose to getting the Ortolith CSA 2x times now -- maybe next year will be the year? ***Greatly*** appreciate the recommendations from existing customers.

                      2. I know that a lot of high-end restaurants in the area (Vetri, for instance) source their seafood from Samuels and Sons. It seems like their warehouse in South Philly is open to the public. Has anyone ever been? Is it the fresh fish mecca I imagine it to be?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: nwinkler

                          Samuels and Sons is the wholesale arm of Ippolito's. I was down at the warehouse last summer buying a bushel of crabs (which were cheaper than the retail store), but I really didn't see tons of other things out.

                          1. re: nwinkler

                            S and S has better prices than Ippolito's and sells in wholesale quantities. Go to their website for daily and monthly specials, but realize they have hundreds of other items. Call first and order over the phone, otherwise you may have to wait a long time for them to fill your order while they attend to customers who pre-ordered.

                            What they have out is a tiny percentage of their stock; it's not a retail store. The seafood is the freshest I've ever had, and sometimes I have to split the order with friends or make sure there's room in the freezer. For example, Ippolito's will sell you one oyster; S and S has a minimum of 50, but charges about 15% - 25% less.

                          2. There's a stand at the Saturday Rittenhouse Sq. farmer's market that sells only Jersey day-boat-caught seafood (so nothing frozen at sea or sitting on ice for days). The selection is limited and it's only there Saturdays but it's the freshest seafood I've found in the area. They reliably have squid, clams, scallops, tuna. usually a few white fish filets somtimes monkfish, "steak" fish like shark and sword, bluefish, etc. Ippolitos is great but on Saturday I think this is probably the freshest fish in town.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: caganer

                              S&S has a retail corner at their big wholesale facility at Packer and Lawrence.

                              1. re: rlibkind

                                I just got back from a visit to the S&S "retail corner" - which in reality isn't a separate part of the wholesale operation at all. You place your order with the guy who fills/coordinates restaurant orders.

                                To call it a true retail operation is a stretch, I'd say. You still have to buy in larger than typical retail quantities (sardines: 8.8lb min.) and you're not going to get typical fishmongering services - you're scaling and cleaning whole fish (and then cleaning up the scales), and if you want filets you better be good with a knife.

                                They had some really beautiful fish though. I'd go if I wanted a whole big fish for sure but not for a few smaller fish or smaller quantities of shellfish. For that, It seems most people in most cases would be better off with Ippolito's, even if you have to special order (which, for example, means in all likelihood Ippolito's would take my 3lb sardine order out of the same 8.8lb box S&S requires me to buy in it's entirety.)

                                Or there's the great stuff at the Jersey seafood stand at the Saturday Rittenhouse market (and wholefoods whole fish look pretty good these days too)

                                1. re: caganer

                                  I usually go to The seafood place at The Ardmore Farmer's market. I am interested in other opinions regarding this location for seafood....?

                                  1. re: caganer

                                    My wife recently got 2 lbs of sushi grade tuna from S&S and a red snapper, which they cleaned and scaled. Fish was very fresh and price for sushi was excellent (got a chunk with skin, not the block you would get from typical fish vender) and the snapper was $1/lb less than RTM venders.

                                2. re: caganer

                                  I read thru this posting about fresh/live fishes. I'm used to eating fresh caught live fishes ,reside at DE and crazy about live fresh caught fishes , fresh fishes caught live and cooked has an extrodinary taste no stinging bad smell. All time only place for our was Chinese stores at Chinatown in PA but got bored very much with tilaphia and catfish never want to take that for lifetime after taking that for 10 yrs. I tried with caption catch at DE but it wasn't so great.
                                  I was very happy to see the day boat caught seafood here in your posting. if you can please let me know the exact location we can go around the area and check it out (street and zipcode helps) please ...
                                  Thank you

                                3. If you don't mind the drive, go to ASSI in North Wales. Its worth it. I go there all the time, huge selection, and super fresh. They have live blackfish, and flounder. I got some Chilean Sea bass today and it was awesome ($14/lb). Also there lobster is $6.99/ pound, cant beat that. Also have sushi/sashimi grade tuna, salmon, and fluke. Nothing smells fishy here.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: THEBIRDMAN

                                    Thank you for the reply , I will give a try at this place will definitely try out the live ones. I'm also looking for king fish haven't found anywhere recently.