Not far away, Peter Panteleakis, who owns two Greek restaurants in Fair Lawn, N.J., is on a hunt of his own for the freshest seafood he can find, such as the sea scallops that still move when poked and a 21-pound piece of local halibut that a vendor slices open to reveal clean, rosy flesh.
The 66-year-old immigrant from a village near Sparta, Greece, who comes by four nights a week with his son, first set foot in the old open-air Fulton fish market in lower Manhattan more than 30 years ago. It was replaced in 2005 by the state-of-the-art South Bronx facility that's open six nights a week.
Learning from his father, Nick Panteleakis quotes a sign on the market wall: "Good fish ain't cheap, and cheap fish ain't good."
When huge pieces of tuna or swordfish worth thousands of dollars come in, men carrying metal hooks and razor-sharp knives leap into action, splitting them into smaller chunks, sweating even in the regulated temperature of about 39 degrees.At about 5 a.m., bartering slows as the sun peeks over the East River. Blood-stained gloves rest atop the counters. The forklifts are buzzing around, loading 18-wheelers outside with goods that will be trucked all over the Northeast. What litters the floor â¿¿ heads, guts and other parts â¿¿ is scooped up and sold off as well, to make fertilizer, pet food, glue. As the city awakens and New Yorkers prepare for work, the exhausted fishmongers trickle out of the South Bronx facility to the surrounding Hunt's Point neighborhood of warehouses, truck depots, all-night bars and strip clubs. They will be back at night to do it all over again. ___ Online: New Fulton Fish Market: http://www.newfultonfishmarket.com