Amy Eddings' Food for Thought: A Visit With Fishmonger Louis Rozzo

It was a very busy news day on the afternoon that Louis Rozzo came in to talk about mackerel and sardines for Last Chance Foods. The feds had unsealed indictments against 127 alleged mobsters and arrested 110 of them in early-morning raids.

What had struck me about the indictments is that many of the top suspects were elderly.

Luigi Manocchio, the accused former boss of New England's crime family, is 83. Andrew Russo, believed to be the street boss of New York City's Colombo crime family, is 76, and the family's alleged acting underboss, Benjamin Castellazzo, is 73. They're believed to be getting their legal advice from 74-year-old consigliere Richard Fusco.

I mentioned all this to Rozzo, as he was settling into a chair for our interview.

Maybe their kids aren't interested in taking over, he mused.

Why would they? A life of crime isn't easy. 

A life in the wholesale fish business isn't, either. And yet Rozzo said he couldn't wait to continue in his father's and grandfather's and great-grandfather's footsteps.

"My father retired about 20 years ago, and it means the world to me to continue [as] the fourth generation" of F. Rozzo and Sons. "I was filleting fish when I was 8 years old."

The hours are brutal. He's at the store around 2:30 a.m. He finishes up around 10 a.m.

As for the fifth generation of Rozzos running the store? 

Rozzo's torn. He makes a face, not unlike the one some people make at the thought of canned sardines. 

"You hate to see your kids get out of bed at midnight to go to work. Especially when you're trying to raise a family. It makes it hard on your family, it makes it hard on your wife. It's a hard business to be in, but it's in my blood," he said.

As for that other hard business the newsroom was dealing with that day—the one still run by the elderly Luigi and "Mush," Richie and "Benji the Claw"—let's consider it a good thing that their descendents don't appear to be interested in it.