Angelenos in search of a high-end seafood market have a new option as of this week, when Michael Cimarusti’s Cape Seafood and Provisions opened on North Fairfax Avenue, inside the former Lindy & Grundy butcher shop space.
Cimarusti, an outspoken proponent of sustainable seafood, has been showcasing wild-caught fish at both Connie & Ted’s and Providence for years. Last week he received a Best Chef in the West James Beard Award nomination for his work. Now, the same seafood Cimarusti sources for his restaurants will be available for retail purchase.
Along with his wife, Cristina Echiverri; business partner, Donato Poto; and Connie & Ted's partners Craig and Amy Nickeloff, Cimarusti has brought over staff from his other restaurants — including expert fishmongers and oyster shuckers — to run the show. In addition to a variety of wild-caught fin fish, shell fish and steaks from West Coast Prime Meats, the small storefront is lined with shelves filled with the chef's favorite pantry items. There are French canned sardines, jarred anchovies, Island Trollers albacore tuna and a variety of vinegars, pastas and heirloom beans.
Behind the counter, a large tank gurgles with live Santa Barbara spot prawns. Plump Gulf shrimp, geoduck clams, mussels, lobster, crab and scallops from Maine are among the other live options. For the less ambitious home cook, a variety of prepared items is available: Salmon and bass cheeks have been house-smoked and are laid out like fine jewelry next to jars of caviar, gravlax and smoked fish dip inside a glass display case. Donato Poto points to the bass cheeks, proudly noting the exceptional richness in this part of the fish. Lobster bisque, clam chowder, crabcakes and occasionally lobster rolls will be available as ready-to-eat items.
When asked about the price point for the luxury fish market, culinary director Brandon Gray repeats Cimarusti's adage: “Great seafood is never cheap, and cheap seafood is never great.”
That said, the price tags on the dozens or so containers of house-made lobster bisque and fish stock on display read $3.99 and $2.99 — which, considering their pedigree, seems reasonable. Unlike most retail fish in the city, Cape Seafood sells only wild-caught fin fish, something Cimarusti believes in ethically, environmentally and flavorwise.
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Cape Seafood's inventory will vary seasonally in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide to sustainable seafood.
Cape Seafood and Provisions, 801 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; (323) 556-2525, cape-seafood.com.