Murray's Sturgeon Shop on the Upper West Side is the kind of city treasure that just bides its time quietly year after year, not garnering excess publicity, just standing firm, doing what it does. Murray Bernstein, the owner of the shop, and a man renowned for his standards and skill with a knife, sold the store in 1974 to restaurateur Artie Culter, who sold it to Ira Goller in 1990. Murray retired to Florida and died in 2000. Cutler, the guy who would go on to create the dining monsters Carmine's and Ollie's, died in 1997.
Craig Claiborne called the shop the City's best. The store retains its days-of-old feel (see the below photos). The neon sign can't be beat. And I can vouch for the quality of the whitefish in wine sauce that I bought. Morever, my wife, who has had much more whitefish in her time than I, praised it.
A recent report in Crain's noted that owner Ira Goller has a "nice landlord" and is in the middle of a "long-term lease." May it stay that way. The chain-ridden Upper West Side's soul currently hangs on the continued existence of a few shops, among them Zabar's, Fairway, Citarella, H&H Bagels, Barney Greengrass, Gryphon Book Store and Murray's. It can't afford to lose one more landmark.