Starting as a live poultry market in 1912, Wholey today carries an inventory of foodstuffs that range from baked ham by the haunch (or sliced super thin, aka chipped, the way Pittsburghers like it) to sides of tuna that are cut into steaks to order. Everywhere you look, there is fresh fish on ice (as well as a first-rate sushi station), and as you explore the vast market, you also find meats, canned and bottled groceries, and produce of the highest quality.
For us, the reason to come to Wholey is a fish sandwich. Virtually anything sold raw is available to be cooked – “You buy, we fry” is the in-house motto; but sandwiches of cod and whiting star. They are fried as you watch in kettles opposite the order area. The cod sandwich is a whopper, but if you are really, really hungry, check out the Whaler. That is one full pound of just-fried (in corn oil) whiting ludicrously piled between two halves of a normal-size roll (preferably from Mancini Bakery). It fails as a sandwich — if being pick-uppable is an essential sandwich quality — but the fish is cream-sweet, utterly fresh, crisp edged, a joy to hoist with fork or fingers.