Former local purveyor opens new clam bar
A former Hammonton seafood supplier has re-opened, now as a clam bar in the Berlin Farmers Market.
For 28 years, Tony Vitale provided fresh seafood to Hammonton from Vitale’s Village Fish Market. Now, after a two-year stint with Rastelli Seafood, a wholesale company in Egg Harbor City, he’s back to serving South Jersey seafood fans, this time at Vitale’s Clam Bar in the Berlin Farmers Market.
“The opportunity came along to buy Charlie’s Clam Bar, which was owned for 70 years by the Capelli family of Vineland,” Vitale said.
Along with the new name came new equipment, an expanded menu and a renewed focus on the fresh seafood that made Vitale’s Village Fish Market a Hammonton staple for almost three decades.
“We’re adding more and more each week,” Vitale said as he opened the door of a new walk-in refrigerator filled with the day’s delivery of clams. “A lot of people are starting to find us who didn’t even know we were back in business.”
Vitale works the clam bar with his wife Debbie and son Anthony Jr. on Thursdays and Fridays, and has eight employees for the busy weekends.
“On Saturdays, from 10 a.m. when we open the doors until 6 or 7, it doesn’t stop,” Vitale said.
“We can’t even do prep work on Saturdays,” said Vitale’s wife, Debbie, who also handles the front of house. “In the summertime, even if we were on roller skates it wouldn’t have been fast enough. I love it, love it, love it. I love the action and I love the people.”
“On Saturdays, if you leave your spot at the bar someone will take it right away,” Anthony Jr. said as he battered and coated whiting to be fried.
As Anthony Jr. brought in another bag of freshly-harvested clams, a two-stroke engine roared to life.
“We powerwash all our clams so there’s no grit,” Vitale Sr. said. “We go through a power washer about every two months but it’s worth it.”
Jordan Donovan came from Sewell for clams at Vitale’s.
“I had clams on a half shell,” Donovan said. “And they were delicious.”
Customers can still place orders for fresh fish with two days’ notice, and Vitale said they’ll still be doing holiday platters, including seven-fish dinners.
IF YOU GO
Vitale’s Clam Bar is open Thursday through Sunday during the Berlin Farmers Market’s regular hours. For more information or to place an order, call (856) 767-0401.