Near The Delaware, Find Fresh Fish On Your Plate Or Alive In The Tank

Posted: June 12, 1987

Looking for fresh fish? Easy, you say. Just board Capt. Bill's or Bob's 7 a.m. party-boat excursions from the Jersey shore to the Baltimore Canyon.

The drawbacks, of course, are that you have to keep your fingers crossed that you catch something, and that when you eventually get home you won't be too tired to prepare it.

Want the sure and easy way to savor fresh seafood? Make a trip to Darigo's Fish Market, along the city's riverfront in South Philadelphia.

This accessible spot offers one of the finest selections of fish and seafood in the city. It even has a chef who will prepare your meal for you to take out or eat in.

If you take your catch home, Darigo's will give you recipes and cooking tips. But the folks here also do an excellent cooking job right in front of you. Which means you can dine, if you like, right in the fish market, between the fluke and the lobsters.

In fact, if it's not on the menu, Darigo's will broil, steam, poach or grill any fish in the place to order for an additional charge. And to top it all off, the menu prices are very reasonable.

An order of grilled tuna, swordfish or salmon can be had at the market price plus just $1.50 per pound for preparation. Of course this is a fish market, not the Fish Market, but you will be well-rewarded with fresh, well- prepared fish at a cost less than a fishing trip.

Darigo's also is a clean, well-kept shop. It has huge tanks and exotic fish specialties. There are Caribbean delicacies such as jackfish, and fish varieties found from Maine to Hawaii. A stroll through the store is like walking through an aquarium.

When you're through feasting your eyes, try tasting the mussels. They come in either a red or white sauce ($4.95) with garlic bread and are a must for mussels lovers. And if it's early in the day and you aren't in the mood for one of the satisfying platters, there is a nice selection of delicious fish sandwiches, from a juicy and meaty crab cake ($3.95) to plump fried oysters ($3.50) on a bun.

A number of the salads can be made into sandwiches, such as the lobster salad ($5.50) and shrimp salad ($5). Salads are also sold by the pound, and include grilled squid and pasta ($4.50), seafood jambalaya ($6.75), shrimp and pasta salad ($9.95) and a bay scallop seviche ($7.50).

Trout, prepared amandine-style ($7.75), was full-sized and exceptionally well-prepared. A thick and rich-colored entree of poached salmon ($8.75) was moist and lightly touched with a mild cucumber-dill sauce.

Platters come with cole slaw and a choice of french fires or onion rings. Prices for just the fish are roughly about $1.25 less than the platter price.

There are soups, such as clam chowder, creole seafood chowder, swordfish chowder and snapper soup ($1, $2.50 and $5). The snapper was good, but not the Philadelphia traditional, as it tasted creamed and pureed.

When it comes to freshness, the owner, Bob Darigo, has been quoted as saying, "If you want something fresher than what's in our cases, you'll have to catch it yourself."

Which means it makes sense to point your bow to Darigo's, where fresh will set you back a mere fish cake.

New and noteworthy: Elfreth's Cafe, 150 N. Second St., has opened for lunch and plans to begin serving light dinners next week. . . . Niko's Place, 218 S. 16th St., recently opened, and is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday, and until 4 p.m. on Saturday.DARIGO'S

1700 S. Delaware Ave., 467-3474 (-FISH)

Open: Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, to 9 p.m.; Saturday to 8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Price range: Sandwiches, $2.50 to $5.75; Entrees, $1.75 to $13.25

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Diners and Carte Blanche

Atmosphere: Aquatic museum with dining

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