Alex Villani of Blue Moon Fish is retiring

Alex Villani, who has been selling his catch at the Washington Market Park Greenmarket for 32 years, has decided to hang up his hooks. His last day on Greenwich Street will be Saturday, Oct. 31.

The reason? Age, he said simply, with a chuckle. He’s 68. “I’m tired. I just want to be able to walk out of here and not have to leave in a wheelchair.”

Villani grew up in Chelsea and went to La Salle Academy, but by 1970, right after high school, he was clamming for a living out east. “Back then you could do anything you wanted.” His 35-foot drag boat, The Blue Moon, was built in Maine in 1986.

He started selling at our Greenmarket in 1988, and at Grand Army Plaza in 1990. And over the years he became a favorite not just of locals but also of chefs and foodies who know fresh fish when they taste it. He made it into Marc Forgione’s book “Recipes and Stories;” was a favorite of the folks at Chambers Street Wines; is featured in The New Greenmarket Cookbook, with a forward by James Oseland; and has been featured in The Journal, The Times and just about everything else from here to Montauk. That’s what happens when you do something, and do it well, for three decades.

His wife, Stephanie, wrote a book about cooking and preparing fish, The Fisherman’s Wife, that has received acclaim from fish lovers everywhere. (His staff are NYC locals: Aaron Quinn, Douglas Bradford and Boaz Steed.)

Retirement for Villani means he will still fish, but when he wants and not every day as he does now. He’s keeping the boat. But the decision is bittersweet, he said. He loves his lifestyle now, where he is by himself all week on the water (usually miles out from his home in Mattituck) and then chatting all day Saturdays with his staff and customers — some he’s known for decades.

“It’s a great combination,” he said, smiling to greet a customer who warned him that there may be a riot when people learn he is leaving. “I love it. I consider myself lucky.”

 

3 Comments

  1. All my best Alex and Stephanie. So sad that you never got to join me for a meal or three. Cheers.

    Eddie Sun

  2. Alex, thank you and happy retirement! You are responsible for our daughter’s great fondness for fresh fish. From her earliest days she couldn’t get enough of your fish, especially squid! She knows what to choose and how to prepare it herself now. You have been a slice of happiness in TriBeCa and we are all better for having Blue Moon in our lives. Be well.

  3. It’s hard to find many (good) things that have been a constant in our neighborhood since 1988. Alex and Blue Moon Fish have been one of them. Your retirement will be a loss for those of us in Tribeca, but hopefully it bring great joy to you and your circle of loved ones. (However, we still have four more Saturday markets to enjoy with you.)

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