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.
By MOLLY MULSHINE
Red Bank’s biggest bodega yet is on its way to Shrewsbury Avenue.
The borough’s zoning board approved Juan Torres’ application to bring a 5,310-square-foot grocery store to the area after a hearing on Thursday night.
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
It had been nearly a year since Bill Alcaro stepped foot inside Rumson Market Place, the East River Road business he owned for 22 years until back surgery forced him to sell it.
When he left, it still had old refrigerators and creaky wood floors. It was, as borough resident Terry Schaefer Severance put it, “a classic old Rumson neighborhood market.”
On Thursday, when Alcaro walked in for a cup of coffee, he saw the old neighborhood market revitalized new refrigerators, new floors and all.
“Place looks great,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
Questions loomed what would happen to the market after Alcaro sold it, but they’re answered now: the Rumson Market is back in business, with an updated look but the same small-town feel.
Ralph Gatta, a butcher and grocer known as ‘Johnny Jazz’ to generations of Red Bank’s West Siders, has hung up his cleaver after 47 years of enveloping his customers in a cocoon of jazz sounds, imagery and anecdotes.
The owner of Johnny’s Jazz Market posted a handwritten notice closing the Shrewsbury Avenue store on its front door nine days ago, one day before he was hospitalized with complications of throat cancer. Because of his illness, he won’t be back, he tells redbankgreen.
The closing marks the end of one of the oldest mom-and-pop groceries operating in Red Bank. Even more, though, it is the fade-out for a grubby museum of sorts curated by a jazz lover whose brother says is “from Mars” with his fanaticism.
“I can’t bend, won’t bend, don’t know how to bend,” Gatta told redbankgreen on a visit to his room at Riverview Medical Center yesterday, explaining why jazz played non-stop on his store’s stereo and jazz memorabilia hung from every available surface.