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Paul's House of Fish (Photo by Anne-Marie Caruso)
Posted: Saturday November 10, 2012, 10:10 AM
By Grace Berry

Jean Venturini Amonica spent her childhood alongside her father, Paul, helping run their family-owned seafood market, Paul's House of Fish, in Cresskill. She recalls riding her bike every day after school to visit him, keeping him company throughout the long work days. After his passing, Jean and her mother, MaryJane, took over and ran the store, with gracious help from other family members.

"My father always had a love for seafood," Jean says. "He was an amazing man, and I want to honor him by continuing his work."

The old-fashioned mom-and-pop shop first opened in Closter in 1975. Two years later, a second location was welcomed in Cresskill, where the Venturinis continued to serve their customers with the freshest seafood.

With family in mind, Paul decided to close the Closter store and run business solely out of the current Cresskill location so that his family could work together under one roof.

The constantly bustling store offers a fresh and colorful array of saltwater species. The shrimp is a year-round customer favorite, and the delicious salmon flies off the shelves during the holiday season.

Jean and MaryJane purchase hundreds of pounds of inventory each week to meet the needs of the large customer base. Someone from Paul's House of Fish visits The Fulton Wholesale Fish Market in the Bronx on a daily basis, hand selecting the seafood to sell in the store.

Once the fish is back in Cresskill, the work day is in full swing.

"I personally hand fillet every piece of fish that comes through this door," Jean says.

Besides offering top-quality seafood, the welcoming atmosphere is different from that of many big-name grocery stores.

From the childhood memories, to watching her own children play behind the counter, the store's strong family ties are also linked to the community. Jean knows nearly every customer who walks through the door, taking time to chat and catch up with everyone.

Paul's House of Fish certainly has a bright future. Thirty-seven years later, Jean, with the help of her mother, works to keep her dad's presence alive while serving great food.

Submit your ideas for "Neighbors" to 201editor@bergen.com.

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