To the regular Jersey native, seafood is a trade not thought of until Memorial Day weekend; but there is a select group of seafood enthusiasts and business owners who are passionate all year round. The owners of Fratelli Freschi Seafood Company, located at 3 Midland Avenue in Montclair have been working in the seafood business nonstop for a decade but opened its first storefront location in December. From carefully selecting each piece in the store to being passionate about the ethics behind the food labor industry, this family-owned business is sure to instill seafood as a go-to dish any day of the week. Discover what kinds of produce Fratelli Freschi Seafood Company carries and the plans the storefront has below.
About Fratelli Freschi Seafood Company
Brothers Lucas, Marco, and Nicolas Freschi were born in Lodi and raised in Verona, and naturally spent their summers on the Jersey shore. This fueled their love for the ocean and New Jersey’s coastline — in particular, Marco, who became a seafood connoisseur since his days working at the fish counter at Kings Food Market. He went to college in Washington State where he spent two seasons net fishing, learned how to commercially fish in Alaska, and then moved to Louisiana where he worked in a fish market.
Left to right: Lucas, Marco, + Nicolas Freschi. Photo Credit: Fratelli Freschi Seafood Company
As Marco learned that seafood was significantly dependent on geography, he wanted to try and start a business of his own while also supporting good fishermen’s practices. When he returned home to New Jersey during the pandemic, he teamed up with his brothers and longtime best friend, Ryan Longton, to open their first business in the neighboring town where they grew up.
After two years of learning about the business and one year of finding the perfect spot to sell seafood, the Freschi family banked on a location right off Montclair’s iconic Bloomfield Avenue. “Montclair people support their own. We found that this location in particular has the best foot traffic, so new customers can find us, too,” Ryan said. The warmest blue-colored walls and comically illustrated front windows automatically bring a welcoming feel as customers enter. The family’s sense of humor is highlighted in a display of family photos that features a photoshopped picture of the late James Gandolfini kissing Ryan on the cheek which sits right next to an issue of The Italian Tribune with the headline, “The Sea Monster That Terrorized Rome.”
Marco and Ryan have plans to expand the counter and bring in a walk-in refrigerator, so customers can browse through selections up close. When MG visited the storefront, there was no doubt that the store was in its early stages of renovations and decorating; the surprising factor, however, was the reputation the store quickly built in its five weeks of existence. A returning customer raved about the trout she cooked the previous night and how she was impressed that she didn’t have to dress it up much. As her New Year’s resolution was to learn how to cook more, she attributed her new skill to Marco and Ryan’s thoughtfulness.
This is a testament to its passion for supporting local and domestic fishermen, otherwise known as traceability — a seafood business sector that this writer was barely aware of. Fratelli Freschi Seafood Company has made it clear that it’s passionate about where its produce comes from and how it’s made. As Marco explained to MG, shrimp, for example, is usually imported from countries like Vietnam and India that house bad labor practices — therefore, the business gets its shrimp domestically despite it being more expensive than the latter. Marco and Ryan head to the Bronx (an industry hub) three times a week in the middle of the night to network and do business with over 2,000 vendors. Most of its imported fish comes from this market, which includes salmon from the Faroe Islands and cod from Iceland; the business always tries to support New Jersey fishermen as its squid, for example, is caught and processed within state lines.
As for future plans, the family wants to expand to be a “one-stop-shop” for customers and other families looking for good-quality seafood for their dinner tables. Although it only serves raw fish currently, it wants to start providing catering and an in-store raw bar, as well as produce and groceries to accessorize any dish. The business also has a dream of eventually doing weekly collaborations with Sussex County farmers. Fratelli Freschi Seafood Company is open 10AM-7PM Tuesday through Saturday and is closed Sunday and Monday.