The roots of the D’Amato Family seafood business go back to the early 1900’s when Pasquale D’Amato started a business with a pushcart and a self-employment dream. Pasquale pushed his way to success from Wooster Street to Fair Haven, selling only the freshest seafood to his many loyal customers. He worked hard at this business for a number of years until an opportunity arose for him to purchase a warehouse on Wooster Street in New Haven where he started a wholesale seafood business. He purchased all the fresh fish for his store at the Fulton Fish Market in New York.
During this time, Pasquale’s son, Andrew D’Amato opened his own fresh seafood market on Grand Avenue. Andrew worked hard with his wife Victoria establishing a thriving business.
As far as Pasquale goes, after years of success in the wholesale market, he sold his business to give the restaurant business a try. He opened a fried seafood stand at Savin Rock in West Haven in 1933 at 393 Beach Street.
This is where the Fish Sandwich as we know it today, was born!
When the D’Amatos opened at Savin rock, it was so busy that it was hard to find time to take a lunch break. One day, Pasquale was so hungry that he grabbed a piece of fillet to eat quickly. It was so hot that he couldn’t hold it, so he grabbed two pieces of toast to put it between. At that point he proceeded to eat it while he was still working and a customer saw him and said, “Hey, what’s that you’re eating?” and thus…the Fish Sandwich was born. Pasquale sold one to that customer that day and then put it on the menu. Since then, it has been one of our top selling items for nearly 100 years!
Interestingly, one day Anthony D’Amato (Pasquale’s grandson) was watching Jeopardy with his wife and happened to see a question about the creation and/or invention of the Fish Sandwich. The answer was that McDonald’s had been the first come out with a Fish Sandwich in 1962. When Anthony saw that he thought, “Well that can’t be right because my family was selling them in the 1930s”. He wanted his grandfather to have the recognition that he deserved so Anthony did an interview on WPLR 99.1 in Connecticut as well as a beachside interview near where the original stand stood that can be seen here.
This interview was hosted by the fantastically talented Mike Anthony whom you can see more about here.
Back to the evolution of the business. Pasquale had a thriving business for many years working with his family including his son Andrew who worked for him whenever he could get away from his store at Grand Avenue. The family took great pride in working together until Savin Rock’s Amusements were closed down in the 1960’s due to redevelopment. At this time Pasquale decided to retire.
Andrew D’Amato then continued the family tradition of working together and started to teach his son, Anthony the business. Anthony resisted at first, deciding to attend school to become a barber. After a decade of cutting hair, Anthony gave the family business a try and opened D’Amatos Seafood at 271 Grand Avenue with his sister Dolores, father Andrew, and wife Donna. This was Anthony’s first taste of the cooked seafood business. Through his hard work, the business grew to be a great success and as the years went by, Anthony became a friend to all his loyal customers.
In the 1980’s, Anthony continued the tradition of working with family by hiring his son, Toma D’Amato followed by his son, Reco and Toma’s wife, Jen in the 90’s. With everyone’s hard work, the business was a success.
In 2005, the family started a new venture when Anthony, Donna, Toma and Jen opened D’Amatos Seafood II at 423 Whalley Avenue in New Haven. Working tirelessly and with tons of love, this location is a success and will continue to serve only the freshest cooked seafood for many years to come.
Stop in and see us sometime!