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Best butcher in NYC

  • l
  • LVI Jun 23, 2006 09:30 AM

Looking for what people deem as the best butcher in NYC for overall quality, including price. Is there actually a place in the city that is reasonable?

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  1. Oppenhimer's W 98 st and Bway.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FAL

      ALways loved Oppenheimers when I lived in the city... I have discussed them on recent threads about UWS butchers...

    2. Recent thread from Manhattan board: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      But for price is no object, you gotta hand it to Lobel's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pupster

        Lobel's IS excellent but sometimes almost insultingly expensive. The meat department at Grace's Marketplace is superb (as is Grace's fish/seafood dept...one of the city's best). There is also a butcher on the East Side of Third Avenue @ 78/79th Street which is excellent. I can't recall the name right now but it's absolutely first-class...

      2. I love Ottomanelli's on Bleeker & 7th Ave. Quality is great... ask for Frank, he's awesome. There is another one on York and 82nd but the staff isn't as friendly. I worked on a couple food shows and we purchased all our meat from here. You just have to be explicit about what you want and how you want it. Good luck!

        1. For steaks, I like Citarella (UES) and Ottomanelli's (Bleecker St.) However, for veal, I love Florence Meat Market. They will order organs for me like heart, and whenever I make blanquette de veau from their veal ( I ask for a mixture of shin and breast) it always comes out perfect. When I open a packet of veal from them, I smile because the meat is beautiful and has a pearly sheen. They never second-guess me or question the cuts I want. When I ordered a piece of beef from them for bouef a la mode, they asked me if I wanted it larded. I don't remember the prices, but they're somewhere between Key food and Lobel's. You just need to call and place your order a day or so before you pick it up.

          My favorite chicken is from d'Attolico's game and poultry stand in the Union Square market on Saturdays.

          I would go to Grace's more often, but unfortunately, they're spotty about carrying inexpensive cuts of meat, and there's an unattractive butcher there who makes sausage jokes and keeps inviting himself over for meals.

          1. For price, quality and service you can't do any better than Jeffrey’s in the Essex Street Market. Pork shoulder was 1.29 a pound and made the most delicious French bistro dish... when it was cooler ;-). At the higher-cost end, I've never had a better porterhouse than the on I bought from Jeffrey. They cut everything to order, so you can make whatever your hear desires. The address is 120 Essex Street.

            1. Staubitz Butchers on Court Street in Cobble Hill is excellent; not cheap, but attentive, expert, old-fashioned service. The butchers really go out of their way to trim or prepare anything, even a small order -- -plus, they're full of good cooking tips AND ideas for less expensive substitutions!

              1. I love STAUBITZ on Court Street in Brooklyn. They are much less expensive than LOBEL'S and gets just as high a rating from ZAGAT.

                The selection, variety and quality are tops, and the staff is extremely cordial and helpful.

                1. Three of 'em.

                  The butcher on 5th Avenue by 8th Street in Brooklyn. They're the same people who used to run Berkeley Meat Market on 7th Ave in the Slope.

                  Some "French" butcher on 2nd Ave around the upper E.20's.

                  Then the PS Food Coop. Although not a butcher they do carry some of the best cuts around.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bigmackdaddy

                    The French butcher has closed, hasn't it? It was good but not inexpensive. Lobel's is still the best, of course, but very expensive. Zagat's not a reliable guide to meat quality.

                    1. re: meatme

                      If your are looking for a great butcher in Woodside , Queens . Ottomenlli's. They sell only USDA Prime

                    2. re: bigmackdaddy

                      Any idea of the name of the place on 5th Ave in Brooklyn?

                      1. re: EAP

                        Western Fine Beef or Western Fine Meats.

                    3. For Beef: Prime Black Angus Dry Aged 21 Days, Citarella. They dry age in their own warehouse, and purchase whole sides, no boxed parts.

                      1. Simchick on First Avenue at 52nd St - can get anything, excellent service and attention and will discuss the best way to prepare.

                        1. For steaks or game, Ottomanelli's (Bleeker and 7th) is my hands-down winner. They're great guys, and if you're a regular you'll find them cutting you deals without you even asking. The meat is great, and their homemade venison sausages (when they make them) - ohhhhhhhh maaaaaaaan.....

                          1. The only USDA Prime sold in Park Slope, to my knowledge, is at Union Market (6th and Union). Butcher is a nice guy, and will cut porterhouses, strips, and other cuts to your liking. They age on-site. (I'm pretty sure they dry age.) Make sure they give you the trimmed fat, so you can grease your grill grate as needed.

                            It's quite expensive -- I recently picked up two 2" porterhouses, and it was $70 -- but worth every penny. The butcher told me they're expanding their aging coolers, too.

                            Western at 5th Ave and 8th St. is very good, too, but they don't carry USDA Prime.

                            This is a terrific informational Web site about beef:
                            General:
                            www.askthemeatman.com

                            Great info on aging:
                            www.askthemeatman.com/dry_aged_beef.htm

                            Finally, if you're into bovine myology and muscle profiling, visit this site -- it's amazing. It has 3-D interactive "moo maps," so you can see exactly where each cut comes from. Fascinating stuff:
                            bovine.unl.edu/bovine3D/eng/index.jsp

                            Enjoy!

                            1. Esposito's on 9th Avenue, hands down. Always wonderful meat, good prices and professional service. What a butcher should be.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Manhattan4Life

                                Don't be put off by the sign saying "Esposito's Pork Store." They have excellent pork, but in the context of excellent everything. It's not a place to get a special-occasion prime dry-aged steak, but for everything else, it's one of the best, with personalized service.

                                They usually have a special on a medium size (10 lb.) bag of skirt steaks at a 1950s price. Take the time (and leave a nice tip) for them to trim off the silverskin. It's tough meat, but responds very well to cooking briefly and slicing against the grain. There's no better flavored cut. They freeze well, so have them freezer-wrapped individually.

                              2. Ottomanelli's on Bleeker & 7th Ave. Great people work there. All USDA prime meat. Beef ground to order. Wild game. It is the best.

                                1. In Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill

                                  I personally love Paesano's on Smith. I used to shop at Staubitz because, yes they do have quality but are frankly over priced. John the owner is adorable as are his sons but some of the butchers have an attitude. Paesanos on the other hand has an amazing selection and all the butchers are incredibly helpful. My husband and I actually compared a strip steak bought at Staubitz at $19.00lb and one bought at Paesano's $14.00lb and the Paesano's one won for flavor hands down. Paesano's meat is Prime Angus and you can really taste the difference. I still go into Staubitz once in a while for the experience but I suggest trying Paesanos. They also carry a fantastic selection of sausages, duck sausage, chicken sausage, merguez..But I still think Esposito's (on Court) sausage is the ultimate.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: monicagtz

                                    agree, agree and agree

                                  2. sorry, it is Los Paisanos not Paesanos and they are at 162 Smith st.

                                    1. Gramercy Meat Market on 2nd ave between 22-23.
                                      Almost everything they sell is Organic (not sort of organic, natural, or anit-boitoic free) and the taste is just amazing. I am totally spoiled. (Just put up a brisket in the crockpot for tomorrow's dinner) - YUM. Also it's acustom butcher where everything is cut to order and seems to be amazingly fresh.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: joelm

                                        I was searching for butcher recommendations and came across this thread. I love hanger steak so went out today to compare four marinaded cuts from four places - Fairway (my usual cheap go to place), Ottomanelli's, Lobel's and Simchick. FYI Fairway charges $7.99lb, Ottomanelli's and Simchick were $11.00lb, and holy crap - Lobel's was $30.00lb! I'm going to cook them up and post back. Don't think I'll be going back to Lobel's no matter how good it is. Can't imagine paying 3x the price of Ottomanelli's for hanger steak, when I can buy dry aged NY Strips for the price of Lobel's hanger steak.

                                        1. re: Palladio

                                          You bought them all? Great for us! I'm looking forward to the report.

                                          1. re: serious

                                            Here's my update on the four marinaded hanger steaks I bought last week. I cooked them using my usual method - pan sear over medium high heat with olive oil in an All-clad skillet until browned (usually about 1 min per side), then cook in convection oven at 425 degrees to just past rare (usually 4-6 minutes, depending on thickness). I then let the steaks rest for 10 minutes before serving. These steaks were all pre-marinaded from the butcher, and I used the drippings from the pan to sauce. FYI, I always use All-clad or my cast iron skillet as they are safe in the oven, and do a good job at searing/browning the meat. Maybe it's my lack of skill, but I've never been able to get a proper sear in an aluminum/nonstick pan, no matter how high I turn up the heat. The meat just turns out sort of grey and blah.

                                            So here we go:

                                            Fairway - Great value at $7.99lb. Hangers here vary in quality (I buy them here often) so take a look at what you're getting if you don't want a thin cut. Teriyaki marinade is a bit overpowering to my taste, but many of my guests have liked and even preferred over Ottomanelli's. I have generally gotten better meat at the 76th/Broadway location than the 125th/Riverside store. From the taste , I suspect the meat often sits in the case longer at the Harlem location. These hangers were not as tender as those from the other places. Be careful not to cook them past rare or medium rare at most or they'll be tough.

                                            Simchick's - Better quality than Fairway and more subtle marinade. At $11.00 lb. well worth the extra if you live in the neighborhood. Not sure I'd make a trip for it though. Can't speak to consistency as this my first trip here.

                                            Ottomanelli's - Slightly better quality than Simchick, also better flavor and marinade. I've bought here a number of times and consistency has been excellent as is their service. They are very good at cutting to your specifactions and friendly no matter what you ask for. I'll travel to buy here over Fairway when I have the time.

                                            Lobel's - The best quality of all by a noticeable margin. The hanger was thicker, more uniform, more tender, and the marinade was by far my favorite. Not sure what it was, but it tasted a bit of Worchesteshire. The actual flavor of the meat wasn't necessarily better than Ottomanelli's, but maybe a bit milder. Its tenderness and less gamey flavor almost made it seem like a "filet mignon" of hanger steak if that makes sense. However, it cost 3x more at $30.00lb. Also, I was a bit put out by their service. I walked in and asked for roughly a pound of hanger. Instead of cutting a steak to my specifications as at Ottomanelli's, the guy just walked around the counter to the refrigerated case and handed me a pre-packaged steak. This cost me about $45.00, and I was so shocked I asked him to weigh it. It weighed 1.5lbs, and I noticed on the Lobel's website that this is advertised as "2x 16-18 oz. hangers" for $40.98. I'm not sure if they are fudging on their pre-packaged steaks or if I just got unlucky. It did tick me off that I ended up overpaying on an underweight steak that was already overpriced to begin with!
                                            So the meat was the winner, but I won't be returning to Lobel's any time soon.

                                            Final Verdict - Ottomanelli's wins my vote for quality, consistency, value and friendly service.

                                          2. re: Palladio

                                            Lobel's has been a rip-off, cashing in on their name, for years. Good quality, but you can find the same elsewhere at half (or in this case, 1/3rd) the price. For the price you pay, you could get the same cuts at a top steakhouse, have someone else cook it for you in a professional broiler, and still have enough left for a glass of wine or two.

                                            Literally. I'll use BLT Prime as an example, since they're a somewhat higher-priced place:

                                            A 40 oz USDA Prime Porterhouse at BLT Prime - $84
                                            A 36 oz USDA Prime Porterhouse from Lobel's - $107

                                            16 oz NY Strip @ BLTP: $44
                                            16 oz NY Strip @ Lobel's: $52

                                            Like I said - might as well have someone else cook it for you if you're going to pay that much.

                                            Or, better, just go to Ottomanelli's....

                                            1. re: sgordon

                                              sgordon, you are on the money. I was so astounded by the price of Lobel's hanger steak that I went back to their website and did a similar comparison. Across the board, Lobel's charges more for their dry aged steaks than one would pay to have one served at Spark's, BLT Prime, Smith and Wollensky, or pretty much any other top Steakhouse in NYC that dry ages their own beef. I'm all for quality but that borders on the ridiculous in my opinion..

                                              1. re: Palladio

                                                Respectfully, I have to disagree. I think the quality of the lobel's meat is far superior to what I've gotten at any of the top NYC steakhouses.

                                        2. Marlow and Daughters, right over the Williamsburg Bridge. The butchers are so helpful, and will get you anything you want/need. The last time I was there, they brought out a half pig to carve me out the shoulder. Excellent service, amazing quality and the charcuterie is killer. Rabbit pate anyone?