Tucked behind Dead Eye Dick’s in New Harbor is its companion market Dick’s Fish. It’s the brainchild of partners Jessica Wronowski and Paul Vitu, who conceived of the idea over the winter. It’s the first new fish market on Block Island in modern memory.
The pair ran Finn’s Seafood Restaurant for three years and its companion fish market for the past two. Although they gave up that
venture, Vitu says running the fish market became ingrained in him and in this newly reconfigured space they have made the market to their own dream specifications. It includes a tank for live lobsters, several types of incredibly fresh-looking finfish and shellfish, and all the fixings to make a complete meal at home or on a boat. You can even buy a bouquet of flowers from Mimi
Arnold – The Farmer Florist – with blooms grown right here on Block Island to grace your table.
Except for the salmon, which is farm raised, and the mussels, from the not-all that- far-flung Prince Edward Island, all the fish is from local New England waters. Lobsters come from Point Judith; soft-shell clams, also called steamers, from Maine.
The oysters are uber-local, coming directly from the pristine waters of the Great Salt Pond. Block Island aqua-culturists Catherine Puckett, a.k.a. the “Oyster Wench,” Chris Littlefield, and Sun Farm Oysters, owned by Chris Warfel are all represented.
These farmers utilize the inner ponds of the Great Salt Pond to nurture and raise their oysters, and just before the harvest season for oysters ends in the pond in the spring, they move them out into deeper waters where they can harvest them in the summer to bring them to market.
Need something to shuck them? Dick’s Fish is carrying oyster knives that double as clam knives from Toadfish Outfitters in South Carolina. Vitu says these knives are “the gold standard” of shuckers. They’re ergonomically correct, sturdy, and something no manufacturer of oyster knives has probably attempted before: stylish. So are the foldaway fillet knives and shrimp cleaners.
Toadfish is a company with a mission to help clean up coastal waters. For every product sold, a portion of the proceeds goes toward oyster bed building and rehabilitation.
Adrian Pearce, also a veteran of Finn’s, has joined the staff. A popular local sushi chef, Pearce creates his signature rolls for the store. While we were there, he was proudly showing off the lobster tank to some customers, extolling the quality of water the creatures are kept in. There’s a constant water flow and Vitu explains that the water is kept at 45 degrees, a temperature ideal to maintain health.
To go with your fish there are piles of bright lemons and jars of horse radish and cocktail sauce as well as soy sauce and spices that will let you create almost any taste profile a cook could come up with.
Vitu also tells us he hates for anything to go to waste and they utilize the bits and bones left over from filleting fish to make a fish stock, or fume, that may be purchased frozen for home use.
To go along with your feast, there are fresh vegetables from local growers, prepared salads including cucumber, potato, and coleslaw, smoked fish dip, and, either to be deviled as an hors d’oeuvres, or kept for a morning-after breakfast, fresh eggs from Sprague Farm.
The Block Island Times visited on just the second day the market was open, and as Vitu and Wronowski are just getting started, they will be tweaking things and adding to their offerings as they go.
Stop by this fresh, bright market and you will very likely be unable to resist taking something home for dinner. Dick’s Fish is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.