Sure, Jiro may dream of sushi, but in South Philly, Anthony D’Angelo, owner of Ippolito’s Seafood is turning his raw fish musings into reality. Today, the 83-year-old fish market at 13th and Dickinson, which D’Angelo affirms is thoroughly Italian at heart, debuts a newly minted sashimi bar, where customers can sample all manner of raw and cured seafood from sushi to crudo to ceviche and beyond. D’Angelo told Grub that the new feature is a response to the growing number of folks who in recent years stop in the shop, and want to taste fish, as is, as if they’re shopping for cheese at DiBruno Brothers. “They’re either trying to make sushi themselves at home, or buying the fish and just kind of eating it as is in the store,” he told us. “I think it’s the next natural step for a fish market.”
He added that as the number of customers interested in raw seafood grows, so does their interest in more different species of fish. For the sashimi bar he expects to tempt customers with a daily selection of fresh cut aji, hamachi, madai, baccala carpaccio, Spanish mackerel, and salmon. “Of course we’re going to have a nice, fatty big eye tuna, too,” D’Angelo added.
At the four-seated counter at the front of the shop, customers will have the opportunity to sample various crudo and hand rolls, as well as ceviche. He and his crew are working on perfecting maki rolls too, but he worries that they’re still a little too rough around the edges to ask people to pay for them. “They’re just not pretty enough yet,” D’Angelo said. But with enough practice, he believes they can get up to speed in a matter of weeks.
But seriously, sushi? From an Italian fish market in South Philly? How will its offerigs stack up against, say, the skills of Zama’s Hiroyuki Tanaka?
“We’re all fish lovers here,” D’angelo said, adding that he’s been a pescatarian for years. “My cutter who’s been with me for six or seven years, I would put him up against any sushi chef in the city. He’s a phenomenal cutter. He produces most of the boneless shad you see in Philly during shad season. For him, this isn’t that big of a deal.”