Rocca's Market hits seafood jackpot - Morgan Hill Times: Community

Ahoy! Poppy has permission to come aboard Rocca's Market hits seafood jackpot

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 9:27 am

Rocca's Market is adding a little surf to its turf.

The 1920s grocery mainstay at 13335 Monterey Hwy. in San Martin is bringing Michael "Poppy" Castelan - a third generation fisherman and former owner of Poppy's Fish, Poultry & More in Morgan Hill - aboard Rocca's popular delicatessen meat counter.

"Rocca's wanted to move into seafood, so we thought we'd start at the top - which is Poppy," said market co-owner Tom Rocca, who has been running the store alongside his brother, Dan Rocca, since 1994. "We're both good at what we do, and we're going to do it together now."

After operating Poppy's for six years, Castelan closed his fish market/restaurant more than a year ago after getting burned out, he said. The space at 30 East Third St. is now occupied by Huntington Station Sports Pub.

"I told Dan and Tom if they ever needed anything, give me a holler," recalled Castelan, who will soon serve as Rocca's in-house meat cutter.

Castelan's cemented reputation as South County's seasoned source for organic, wild and natural seafood is rooted in a family tree of salty sea dogs tracing back to 1895. His grandfather belonged to the founding community that helped establish the city of Gig Harbor on Washington's Puget Sound.

Castelan's family even rubbed elbows with late Captain Phil Harris of the Discovery Channel's popular reality show "Deadliest Catch." Harris made one stop in Northern California at Poppy's while promoting Alaskan Amber beer as a spokesman in 2008; an occasion that drew more than 500 Morgan Hill residents and local fans.

When his new residency at Rocca's commences March 1, Castelan plans on making regular treks to the docks in San Francisco three to four times a week. He'll return packing ocean's of bounty such as Ahi tuna, Chilean sea bass, wild salmon, halibut and oysters – all sourced  undisclosed sources consisting of close family ties, friendships and longstanding connections.

Buzz is already generating on Poppy's Fish & Bistro" target="_blank">Facebook page, where loyal patrons are posting requests for a live lobster tank (there will be one), sole, scallops and tilapia.

"We're not changing Rocca's at all," reminded Castelan, who will also bring a line of all-natural, grass-fed beef to Rocca's. "We're adding to it."

Upping their deli's repertoire is consistent with the weathered market's stronghold, Tom said, which is centered on being the go-to destination for superb meats and competitively priced wines. Rocca's is especially known for touting a healthy spread of local reds and whites from a number of boutique wineries scattered between Gilroy and Morgan Hill, in addition to an eclectic parade of other varietals from Paso Robles to Napa, Chile to Australia.

The store's cornucopia of top-notch meats from an old-fashioned, cut-and- wrap meat counter is also a longstanding community attraction, drawing area shoppers with flavored Italian sausage, stuffed pork chops, chicken cordon bleu, prime rib roast, four types of marinated tri-tip steak and in-house ground burger for the better part of a century.

"We want to expand our offerings. [Mike] will be working for us and with us and bringing his personality, special touch, seafood knowledge, connections and expertise on cooking and preparation in the seafood area," said Tom over the phone Tuesday. "Both Mike and I are excited about this. It's a really neat blend of our establishment and Mike's clientele and expertise."

To read a past story featuring Rocca's Market, click" target="_blank">here. 

  • Discuss

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • WhigParty posted at 1:27 pm on Mon, Jan 30, 2012.

    WhigParty Posts: 20

    Mr. Yancey,
    Why don't you dump your used oil in their parking lot and teach them a thing or two about good service?

  • WilliamYancey posted at 2:18 am on Mon, Jan 30, 2012.

    WilliamYancey Posts: 390

    Rocca's Market could be something amazing. Instead the brothers insist on keeping it a dump and providing awful service. Too bad.

  • Frank Manocchio posted at 11:16 pm on Wed, Jan 25, 2012.

    Frank Manocchio Posts: 46

    Looking forward to to the availibity of superb, fresh fish in South County again. These gentleman do it right. Real butchers, fish mongers, quality products, old school service and arguably the best complete source of local wines.
    Hopefully, the community will realize what an amazing resource they all are and support them.