That one, a long red brick edifice, featured “ghost” signage for Citarella’s Meats and Deli and Wrigley’s spearmint gum. But it was not, as several readers assumed, on the side of the Citarella’s as we know it, on Prospect Avenue in Red Bank.
By JIM WILLIS
PieHole recently picked up a sweet soppressata (approx $15 per pound) from the Prospect Avenue shop. At home, we put together a quick lunch with some pickled hot cherry peppers from this summer’s garden and a piece of cheddar leftover from a recent party.
The sign outside Citarella’s Market in Red Bank says it all. If you want a fresh turkey, the clock is ticking. Below, Kristian Bauman, meat manager at Sickles Market in Little Silver. (Photos by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)
By JIM WILLIS
If possible, you’re going to want to go with a fresh bird, not one that’s been doing hard, cold time frozen away in some industrial freezer.
“Sometimes those turkeys have been in the supermarket’s freezer for a year or so,” says Stew Goldstein, of Monmouth Meats in Red Bank. “The stores buy when the price is low, and then keep the birds in their freezers ’til it’s time to sell them. Who knows really how long it’s been in there?”
One thing dinner tables around the Red Bank Green can be thankful for is the number of options we have for getting fresh turkeys. Piehole checked in with three shops to talk fresh turkey.
By JIM WILLIS
Just as in the Middle Ages, when last names like Baker, Taylor and Miller connoted the trade or profession of the family breadwinner, if “Citarella” were an occupation, it would now mean dude who knows meat.
In the late 1800s, Andrew Ralph Citarella left Naples, Italy, to settle in Red Bank, and soon began selling meat off of his front porch.
He learned to cut meat by just doing it, says Ralph Citarella, fourth-generation butcher and current owner of Citarella’s Market, on Prospect Avenue. Then he sent my great-grandmother [Carmela] to the meat houses [in Long Branch]. She learned the proper way, and then she taught him.
“So she taught my great-grandfather, and he taught my grandfather, and my grandfather taught my father, who taught me. Its like an apprenticeship. Its just years of a cutting apprenticeship.
From the front porch, the first Citarellas moved to a store on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank. Sometime later, the shop relocated to Sea Bright, where Ralphs grandfather and father, Andy, ran the business. The 1962 flood brought another relocation, to the Little Silver Shopping Center, where Andy ran the store. But in 1979, he had to get out of there, because at that time it was really run-down, and the rent was going up, so he moved the store” to its current location, said Ralph. “He moved a mile north, as he used to put it.
redbankgreen sat down with Ralph at a picnic table beside the store recently to talk about meat, sauce and what makes a 100- plus-year-old family business tick.