Business going swimmingly for new Citarella


Citarella, the famous fish and gourmet store, quietly opened its newest location on April 1 at the former Balducci’s storefront on Sixth Ave. and Ninth St. in the Village.

Joe Gurrera, Citarella’s owner, said business at the new location is going “very well.”

“The neighborhood has received us very nice,” he said. “I’m very glad to be in another neighborhood in Manhattan, a neighborhood that I like a lot. I’m very happy to have the former Balducci’s site.”

The original Citarella’s, founded in the 1920s, is on the Upper West Side. Since buying the store in the 1980s, Gurrera has opened stores on the Upper East Side, in Southampton and East Hampton, as well as a restaurant at Rockefeller Center.

The new Sixth Ave. store’s interior is open and airy, a distinct change from Balducci’s, which some found dark and cramped.

“I utilized the space a little bit better. I reconfigured things,” Gurrera said.

Citarella offers seafood, meats, prepared food, homemade pastas, caviar, smoked fish, produce, cheese, coffee beans and gourmet groceries.

Gurrera said he didn’t announce the opening because he didn’t want to get “slammed” by a rush of customers, preferring to ease the new store into business gradually and get into a good “flow.”

“It’s like learning to drive a car,” he said.

Although the prices are gourmet, Gurrera said it’s worth it.

“We give very good value,” he said.

A mix of jazz was playing softly over the store’s sound system last Wednesday as shoppers perused the goods. There were wedges of cheese stocked on top of cheese wheels; prepared soups, like Moroccan chic pea soup, 15 oz. for $3.99; whole fish, like arctic chad and pompon, filets and tuna burgers and salmon/swordfish burgers, the latter for $9.99 per lb.; and fresh buffalo hot dogs, $6.99 per lb. There were plenty of employees about wearing black Citarella baseball hats, including one man standing at the ready by the barrels of coffee bins and another misting the produce.

Gurrera said he doesn’t anticipate too much competition with Jefferson Market up the street, a local favorite that gained even more customers after Balducci’s was sold to Sutton Place Gourmet a few years ago.

“We have our own niche,” Gurrera said. “We do what we do very well.”