Selecting Seafood: Joe Patti’s Seafood Essential Guide
Nothing says “Gulf Coast” more than fresh seafood caught directly from our sparkling waters. Joe Patti’s Seafood Company in Pensacola, Fl. has, for generations, been the premier location for coastal seafood and delicacies. Many customers, though, have questions about selecting fresh seafood, recipes, and safety. I recently sat down with Alice Guy, owner of Alice’s Restaurant, manager of Anna’s Fine Wines and A’mangiari, and significant other of Frank Patti, to discuss some questions many of you may have. We at Coastal Palate (CP) hope that this guide will make your next visit to Joe Patti’s Seafood an even better experience.
CP: What are some of the bestselling selections of fish at Joe Patti’s?
Alice Guy: By the numbers, heart-healthy Salmon. Otherwise, closely behind are mullet, grouper, flounder, and pompano, which are all local. Some other good options on our cutting board are tuna, swordfish, and Chilean Sea Bass. A more experienced cook will venture to fish like monkfish, wahoo, or whole red snapper.
CP: Share with us some of the most popular types of shrimp at Joe Patti’s.
Alice Guy: Hands down, the most popular shrimp variety is Royal Reds. Frank began marketing the sweet, delicate deep-water shrimp in the mid-’90s. Joe Patti’s offers Royal Reds in many different sizes, as well as peeled and deveined or head-on or headless. A close second is the seasonal Pensacola Bay Shrimp. Personally, my favorite is White Shrimp. Those are harvested on the East Coast and even in Mobile Bay.
CP: What are other types of shellfish at Joe Patti’s that customers really love?
Alice Guy: Joe Patti’s Seafood receives lobster deliveries from Maine three times a week. Our most popular is Chick Lobster, weighing between 1.25 and 1.75 pounds. Oysters (in shell or shucked) are also very popular, especially around the holidays. Clams and mussels are for the more experienced cook.
CP: Are there any selections of local seafood that you recommend customers try?
Alice Guy: Selecting seafood depends on the customer’s palate. Mullet is such a delicious local fish. Mullet is best caught, prepared, and eaten locally, and they are normally in season during October. Options for a more sophisticated palate are Grouper, Trigger, and Scamp. If you’re in the mood for grilled fish, Pompano, Cobia, and Amberjack are excellent choices.
CP: Are there any preparation suggestions you could give for a perfect seafood dinner?
Alice Guy: Joe Patti’s offers some cookbooks and a rack card selection. Most importantly, though, is practice. If you are new to cooking or tired of cooking, we steam shrimp, all of our crab varieties, and our deli serves homemade gumbo, West Indies salad, and so many more ready-to-eat seafood dishes.
CP: Thinking of safety now, what are the signs customers need to look for when selecting fresh seafood to know they are past their peak freshness?
Alice Guy: Smell is the most apparent indicator that any food is no longer good. Firmness and color are also indicators that can guide you. In whole fish, gills should be bright red and moist. Shrimp heads and legs should not be black.
CP: What are some precautions that Joe Patti’s is taking to help keep patrons safe during Covid-19?
Alice Guy: Joe Patti’s Seafood Market now has installed sanitizing ultraviolet light in all of our HVAC areas and air handlers in our shop, freezers, and our market workplaces. All of our employees have had reinforced training on updated protocols set by state and health departments that cover food prep, packaging, and distribution procedures. We have also installed hand sanitizing stations throughout the shop.
CP: Finally, for any readers who have not visited Joe Patti’s Seafood Market yet, what should they expect their experience to be?
Alice Guy: All of your senses are enticed when you walk into Joe Patti’s Seafood Company! When you enter Joe Patti’s, you are welcomed by cool air, and next you will hear Captain Joe Patti’s son, Frank, on the microphone. He’s calling numbers and making sure his seafood angels move quickly and efficiently, by calling out commands like “more tuna on the counter!” Your eyes will be amazed at the 80-foot counter filled with fresh seafood, and your mouth will water with the scent of Old Bay seasoning wafting from our steam room.