Citarella is a bustling bounty of fresh produce, ready-made meals, imported cheeses, and some of the finest seafood you will ever taste. The market has been in the Hamptons for this past fifteen years. I had my first visit to the Southampton store a little over a week ago where I was cordially greeted by General Manager, Lau Zarate, who showed me around the entire store and spoke in great depth about the founding of the company and about their specialty house products. What I immediately noticed was that as most customers stepped inside, they did not hesitate as to which section or particularly product they were looking for. Customer favorites such as their olive bar, vast selection of yogurts, meatballs, rotisserie chicken, crab cakes, fried chicken, and custom pizzas. Their new, cold-pressed juices are very popular!
Top name brand products sold include their olive oil, vinegars, as well as a huge selection of different types of grains and beans including couscous, polenta, and organic quinoa. “My favorite is the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena,” says Zarate. “It is so thick and sweet, I dip my strawberries into it.”
Each Citarella sells and offers the same selection of food items, though some stores display their products differently. As I noticed during my tour, there is a strong soup selections, and I learned that make their own fresh pasta! Almost everything at the market is fresh and ready for you. You just unwrap and serve.
Citarella has a very large variety of dips and sauces: cocktail, strawberry and horseradish sauce, cucumber dip, spinach, guacamole salsa, that are all made fresh almost on a daily basis. Classics like quiche, turkey and chicken pot pie. Made fresh every single day. You could even make your own quesadillas. “[What is most] popular is what comes out of the kitchen,” says Zarate. There is a great selection of small desserts to go such as tiramisu, chocolate and rice pudding. Rice pudding is their number one seller. Will find exactly the same quality in every store. Everything you could possibly need is ready to go for you.
During the summer season, there are 65 prepared food dishes. This number is scaled down to 25-30 dishes in the off-season.
The pastry kitchen hand-makes so many delicious choices, it would be impossible to choose a favorite. Though top choices include their Maracaibo, apple strudel, lemon bars, mixed berry tarts, and their cupcakes.
Their cheese selection is the talk of the town. Grab a few wedges of their cheeses for your backyard party this 4th of July! I recommend their truffle white cheese. Their selection of cheeses is enormous. Most cheeses are imported directly from the best places such as France and Holland. Customers will always discover new cheeses or want to taste cheeses they have not tried yet.
Their grocery items cover a wide spectrum. Citarella is a true, professional gourmet place. The seafood selection is presented on ice, and is as fresh as you can get. “Seafood is how we started. We started with six employees as a fish store in the city,” explains Zarate. “Fish is our #1. It is our core and what put us on the map.”
New food brands are introduced every so often, but the store is very selective with introducing new brands. “We listen to our customers. For example, in our new Greenwich location which we opened about three weeks ago, many customers have been requesting organic cheeses during the first few days of the store being open. Those cheeses are now arriving in stores. That is how fast we can react,” says Zarate. It can be as be as quick as two to three weeks for a new product to arrive on the shelves based on customer’s recommendation.
Citarella can cater from a party of four to 500-1,000. They can also offer wait-staffing, and cleanup staff. The market can accommodate up to 100 guests with a mere 48 hours in advance notice. Many staff members have been with Citarella for over a decade, so you know the staff is professional and considerate.
Citarella is very active in the Hamptons community and will be participating in several upcoming events including Dan’s Taste of Two Forks (where they have a huge display), and the Hampton Classic. The company will also provide food for multiple events with Guild Hall. What the store is most excited about is their annual cookie decorating classes that we host at Guild Hall and Hampton Classic. These events are very popular with children and their parents. Another event is Chefs and Champagne held at Wölffer Estate in July, and and donates to local charities and fishing tournaments in Sag Harbor.
Citarella has three stores in the Hamptons: one in Bridgehampton, East Hampton, and Southampton. Southampton is open from 6am-9pm, Bridgehampton from 6am-8pm, and East Hampton’s hours are 9am-7:30pm. Their newest store in located in Greenwich, Connecticut, which opened on June 2nd, and has a very similar design to the Southampton market.