featured business

Featured Business: Fishtown Seafood Company

If you love fish stories, wait till you hear Bryan Szeliga’s! Before opening Fishtown Seafood Company at 339 Belgrade St. in 2022, this guy paid his dues. “I grew up fly-fishing, then I worked in the kitchens of James Beard Award-winning chefs in Portland, before working in seafood importing,” Szeliga said. Committed to sustainability and supporting local, women-owned businesses, he doesn’t just want to sell fish. Szeliga wants to “reinvent the customer experience” by educating them on the complex world of aquaculture, starting with where the fish you are eating really comes from.

“What chefs think they know about seafood is generally not correct,” he said.  The same goes for the guy behind the seafood counter at Whole Foods or Giant. According to Szeliga, there’s really not a major difference between wild salmon and farmed.

“Nobody’s talking about the fact that hatcheries release five billion so-called ‘wild’ fish into the rivers,” he said. Another myth buster? ”Sourcing local seafood isn’t practical in Philadelphia. Alaska produces far more seafood than that state can consume,” he said. “I buy domestic Cod, not something imported from Iceland.”

One more fish fact?  Szelig points out that fresh seafood is not necessarily better than frozen, especially if it has spent time being transported in a refrigerated truck or plane. “Compared to regular frozen fish, Super Freezing (-60% C) directly after being caught is much fresher,” he said. 

“Our scallops come from Maine. They are true dayboat scallops by law and they have no added moisture. Once landed, they are Super Frozen to -76 degrees. Our mussels are from the pristine waters of Mount Desert Island. The sustainable Dutch style farming that is used is an environmentally friendly process that yields plump and flavorful mussels,” said Szeliga. “Our littleneck clams are from Reval Island Virginia. Stop in to see if we are currently carrying middle neck or cherrystones.”

“Our shop is cutting edge and forward-thinking on sustainability. Most of our products, I buy direct. We don’t carry Atlantic Salmon. For wild salmon, we have two sources, sockeye from Bristol Bay Salmon and coho salmon from southeast Alaska. Our King Salmon is farm raised in freshwater canals from glacial runoff in New Zealand. This fattier cut is rich and delicious.” 

Szeliga also imports fish from Ecuador and Peru. His Dungeness and Johna crabs are from Kent Island, VA and his lobster is from Canada. “We have the best oyster selection in Philadelphia,” said Szeliga. “We offer top quality East Coast Oysters from Atlantic Canada through New England, New Jersey, and all the way down to Chesapeake Bay,  Our rotating selection allows you to try something different each time you come in.”  If your oyster shucking skills need an upgrade, sign up for a class at Fishtown Seafood.

Not your usual fish store, Fishtown Seafood stocks other products for one-stop dinner shopping. “We are thrilled to partner with Midnight Pasta Company for our house-made selection of pasta and Metropolitan for our baguettes,” said Szeliga. “We also have other grocery staples like eggs, rice, sauces, and drinks. We support as many local businesses as we can. We carry spice and oyster plates made by local women.”

Fishtown Seafood offers specials such as buy one 12 oz bag of shrimp and get one free every Wednesday.  Stop by for Friday Happy Hour, 1-6 pm, when oysters are just a dollar each as long as you purchase a minimum of six per variety selected. From Friday to Sunday, get 18 oysters and caviar for $50 while the supply lasts. Note: Their caviar comes from the roe of sturgeon and trout harvested by sport fishermen.

Want to eat seafood at home but are unsure how to prepare it? Have concerns about sustainability and human rights associated with seafood? No problem, stop in and ask.  “We care about sustainability and human rights and are happy to share industry and culinary knowledge about the products we sell,” said Szeliga.

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